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The Shades of London series, 1-3 by Maureen Johnson

09 Jun

13595639  The Name of the Star

Rory Deveraux is beginning boarding school in London, far away from her tiny hometown in Louisiana since her parents decided to move to England during her senior year. It’s no surprise that she’s having a bit of trouble adjusting to life at Wexford, but she’s really enjoying most of the experience, though she hates field hockey and almost choked to death at dinner.  Her roommate Jazza is likeable too, but the worst thing is when a murder occurs nearby the school. It isn’t just a random murder, however. It seems to be a recreation of a famous Jack the Ripper killing, one where the security cameras didn’t catch a thing. As the city dissolves into the mayhem and drama of a copycat serial killer, Rory doesn’t realize she’s somewhat involved until she witnesses something funny and is questioned by police. Now, she’s gotten a police detail and another roommate, but also starts a relationship with the cute boy who is sort of a history nerd on Jack-the-Ripper. As Rory delves further into the murders and begins helping with the investigation, this comes with a consequence and it could be. . .deadly.

15721638 The Madness Underneath

After her near death experience and trauma from the Jack-the-Ripper copycat murders, Rory has been taken out of school to recover and analyze her experiences with her new therapist. Only, she can’t tell her therapist the truth–1) that she can see ghosts, 2) that’s what tried to kill her, and, 3) oh yeah, that she can also zap them away now too (special terminus powers). But when Julia suggests Rory go back to Wexford, Rory is taken by complete surprise as she thought that’s the last thing they would let her do. Still, she is happy to be reunited with her friends, both the ones at school and the ones in the secret branch of the London police that deal with ghosts–namely Stephen, Callum, and Boo. Soon after she returns, Charlotte, a girl Rory rather didn’t like, convinces her to try her new therapist since she’s done wonders with Charlotte herself. Rory meets Jane Quaint, and strange things happen to her, even stranger than usual. Which is sad, because now usual means there’s an odd murder, which there is, and Rory is investigating it. But when it seems that Rory is about to get kicked out of school, she breaks down and gets herself kidnapped. Feeling like her world is falling about her ears, Rory discovers just how strong she is and how her real friends will try to save her, no matter what.

819NVqmkNDL The Shadow Cabinet

After having just become romantically involved with Stephen before he was killed and forcing some supernatural occurrence at his death bed, Rory is determined to find his ghost. After no luck, she and her friends are left in a great muddle of depressed grief and lost among secrets. Rory herself is in a lot of danger as 1) she is still reported missing, 2) Jane and her minions are after her, and 3) they have Charlotte, Rory’s former schoolmate. Struggling to see the connections without Stephen’s ingenuity and still stubborn as ever to make her own choices, Rory mucks about with Stephen’s ghost contacts, landing herself trapped and at the mercy of former boyfriend Jeremy and new friend Freddie. The team and Rory’s new handler, Mr. Thorpe is none too pleased about her disobedience and rescue. Still, he vets Freddie to join them, and she proves to be a wealth of knowledge, helping them discover Jane’s real mission — to wake her sleeping (creepy, magical, murdering) friends from their almost death. To do so, Jane needs Rory herself and a special stone, one that is key to protecting all of London from the realm of the dead. The most surprising find is that Stephen’s fate is similar to Jane’s sleeping friends, and Rory must choose whether to save him and thereby fulfill Jane’s wishes or lose him forever. . .

After Stephen’s death I was teetering on the edge of “no way, if he’s gone, I’m not reading this” and “might as well see if she spirals into depression,” and I was completely unprepared for the twists this last book had in store! Thank goodness I kept reading! From the first novel, the Ripper mystery and fear for Rory really caught you up, and in the second, Rory’s identity crisis and breakdowns keep you reading, but by the third, I was driven on by a pure need to know if my favorite character was truly dead and whether Rory would get any sort of happy romantic relationship. Murders and ghosts and kidnappings and. . . I get tied up by the romance and a need to save the hero (or heroine). *sigh* It figures.

Note: violence and sexual circumstances

This book is perfect for middle grades on up through high school. I really enjoyed the historical references and the book itself, even if it just doesn’t quite make it to rock-your-socks-off awesome. It certainly is a new twist on ghostly paranormal YA, and I can’t wait to read book 4!

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