Scythe By Neal Shusterman

Title: Scythe

Author: Neal Shusterman

Publisher: Walker Books

First Published: 22nd November 2016

Blurb:

A dark, gripping and witty thriller in which the only thing humanity has control over is death.

In a world where disease, war and crime have been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional scythes. Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythes’ apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn the art of killing and understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice and as Citra and Rowan come up against a terrifyingly corrupt Scythedom, it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser. (From Goodreads, 9th April 2019)

Review:

Scythe is a novel that is an uncomfortable look at a possibly utopian future, where life is now infinite and the resolution for stopping overpopulation is Scythes. Scythes are professional killers. More disturbingly Scythes are only ruled by themselves. Years of being ruled by themselves has lead to corruption and a lack of humanity in some Scythes. So in some ways this novel is dystopian.

We follow two teenagers who have been selected as Scythe apprentices. So we follow the the pair as they learn about killing and why it must be done. But soon they learn that only one will be chosen and they are pitted against one another, to the death.

This is a fast paced novel and in some ways time passes too quickly for relationships to feel as fully formed as they could be. This is a thrilling novel with mystery and high stakes. We read from the journals of various Scythes and learn the different schools of thoughts regarding Scythdom. Those that get a thrill from the kill vs those who understand the full gravity of what they are doing.

This is a chilling novel that takes turns that you don’t expect. The themes of corruption, morality and power play throughout this novel.

Scythe is the first in a series and sets the scene for change. Change that could go either way. It makes you question if utopia is ever possible and the importance of mortality.

A thrilling young adult novel with a unique premise and a great start to what I imagine is going to be a very impactful and lasting series. This series will be great for discussing and debating the topics and themes that it tackles. A great book for young adults to enjoy and discuss.

4 out of 5 stars.

My Name is Venus Black By Heather Lloyd

Title: My Name is Venus Black

Author: Heather Lloyd

Publisher: The Dial Press

First Published: 27th February 2018

Blurb:

Venus Black is a straitlaced A student fascinated by the study of astronomy—until the night she commits a shocking crime that tears her family apart and ignites a media firestorm. Venus refuses to talk about what happened or why, except to blame her mother. Adding to the mystery, Venus’s developmentally challenged younger brother, Leo, goes missing.

More than five years later, Venus is released from prison with a suitcase of used clothes, a fake identity, and a determination to escape her painful past. Estranged from her mother, and with her beloved brother still missing, she sets out to make a fresh start in Seattle, skittish and alone. But as new people enter her orbit—including a romantic interest and a young girl who seems like a mirror image of her former lost self—old wounds resurface, and Venus realizes that she can’t find a future while she’s running from her past. (From Goodreads, 9th April 2019).

Review:

“My Name is Venus Black” is a novel of mystery. What happened to to cause Venus to murder? What happened to Venus’s brother? Why is her relationship with her mother so fraught?

It is also a story of readjustment, leaning how to cope in a world that you have been so removed from. Learning to look after yourself and finding a place in a world where everyone knows what you have done. But this is a story of so many different stories. So many different relationships. It tackles so many topics that are important and show the blurry lines of right and wrong.

Structurally we mainly follow Venus, and the second narrative of Venus’s brother Leo’s story. We also see things from Venus’s mothers point of view as well, and the view of the individuals who look after Leo. There is a lot of mystery and I do not want to divulge too much. This is a novel that I went into blind and I think that is possibly the best way to read this book.

“My Name is Venus Black” is fantastically constructed, with multiple stories that keep you wanting to read more. You desperately want everything to work out, but with such a complicated past is that ever possible?

If you are looking for a novel with light mystery, complex relationships, and complex moral conundrums I would recommend “My Name is Venus Black”. Go into it not knowing much and you will be glad that you did.

I really love this novel, it is fantastically constructed and extremely well written.

5 out of 5

On a Scale of One to Ten By Ceylan Scott

Title: On a Scale of One to Ten

Author: Ceylan Scott

Publisher: Chicken House Ltd

First Published: 3rd May 2018

Blurb:

Tamar is admitted to Lime Grove, a psychiatric hospital for teenagers. 

Lime Grove is home to a number of teenagers with a variety of problems: anorexia, bipolar disorder, behaviour issues. Tamar will come to know them all very well. But there’s one question she can’t… won’t answer: What happened to her friend Iris? As Tamar’s emotional angst becomes more and more clear to her, she’ll have to figure out a path to forgiveness. A shocking, moving, and darkly funny depiction of life in a psychiatric world. (From Goodreads, 9th April 2019).

Review:

This was a novel that I enjoyed but it was very typical of the many mental health books that I have read in the past. Tamara is admitted to a psychiatric hospital due to a suicide attempt and her self harm. Tamara is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, a very underwritten about disorder, and really the reason I was drawn to this book.

This novel focuses on the relationships Tamara creates whilst at Lime Grove. But the relationships aren’t that well developed. But when you are admitted to a psychiatric ward you are placed with individuals and don’t have long to get used to their company. You are in a world where people’s most personal thoughts are shared, so relationships do become quite deep quite quickly, or what appears to be deep. So the setting itself may be part of the issue with the lack of development of relationships and is actually quite accurate of psychiatric hospital relationships for some.

I would say that some of this novel is very on point, whilst other parts aren’t that believable. There was a lack of focus on treatment and looking at ways to change thinking and working on a better set of coping strategies, which I feel is an important aspect to novels like these. However, it is based in a hospital ward and many people do not realise that the main point of an acute psychiatric ward is to get someone stable enough so they can work on their issues outside of hospital. The hospital is to keep an individual or others safe and reach a stage that they can engage in therapy once discharged. So I feel that this was an accurate description but I feel that recovery work should be looked at in novels like these. The ending felt rushed but did focus on the concept of hope, which is possibly the most valuable part of recovery when it comes to mental health issues.

This is an own-voices novel, and therefore the author has personal experience of mental health issues and this may be accurate to how she herself felt. I felt the thoughts and feelings of Tamara really did show a real insight into the mind of an individual diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) setting was a reliable account, although I feel that some of the staff were not at all realistic, whilst others seemed pretty on point. I understand that you are going to get good and bad members of staff but I feel you are more likely to get good, some bad and some okay, and this balance was not made for me personally. But everyone has a different experience and different hospital experiences depending on the ward that an individual is admitted to so this is likely a really good representation of some wards. I think because it contrasted with my experience a bit that is why I found it difficult to relate to completely. Some parts rung true whilst others didn’t, and my own bias has probably resulted in my opinion on this.

There is also a bit of a mystery going on. What happened to Iris? And this is an intriguing plot point for the novel. And one of the reasons I liked this novel. It provides a story to follow rather than the novel being solely focused on mental health symptoms.

Overall I feel this is a book that was mixed for me, but is an account worth reading, and does depict the mind of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder well. It is in some ways very accurate, but as I have said I feel books about mental health difficulties have a responsibility to address recovery and look at things that can help. But the importance of hope, at least, was focused on.

3.5 out of 5

Sadie By Courtney Summers

Title: Sadie

Author: Courtney Summers

Publisher: Wednesday Books

First Published: 4th September 2018

Audiobook Narrator: Full Cast

Blurb:

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page. (From Goodreads, 11th March 2019)

Review:

First things first – GET the audiobook of this novel! It is fantastic! One of the best audiobooks I have listened to – this is due to the full cast and the novel being told through podcasts, the audiobook just brings this novel to life!

Sadie is a story told in multiple perspectives. We have Sadie herself who has left her home to find the man who killed her sister. We see her work through clues to find the man responsible for her sisters death. In doing so Sadie comes across multiple situations blocking her from achieving her goal.

The next perspective comes from West McCray, who develops a podcast about disappearances and unsolved crimes. West undertakes interviews with MayBeth, Sadie’s for all intents and purposes, foster grandmother. We hear about Sadie as a child and her relationships with her mother and sister. West tried to get clues to where Sadie might have gone, and soon begins to follow the trail Sadie has left behind. It is interesting because we hear the story through interviews and also see what Sadie leaves behind from her encounters.

This is a novel that draws you into the mystery, it is not a complex mystery but it would be a good novel for those wanting to try a young adult crime novel for the first time. It takes a look at human relationships and the need to find justice in the world. This is a novel that deals with some hard topics and therefore I will highlight the triggers of abuse, drug abuse and violence here. It is not graphic but it could be a trigger for some. Sadie also has a stutter, but the author does a fantastic job of making this just one attribute of Sadie and not a focus. Sadie is definitely a multi-dimensional character and has dealt with a lot in her young life. Sadie may not always do the right things but you are rooting for her throughout this novel.

I think what I most enjoyed about this novel is the unique way it was told, and this was, as I have already said, brought to life by the audiobook. Sadie is a flawed character, she does things that are not always right but they are done for the right reasons. Trouble seems to always come her way but she keeps going despite this.

Sadie is a novel that will keep you wanting more and is a fast read, but if you take anything from this review it is that you should give the audiobook a try. It is worth it, I promise.

4 out of 5 stars.

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding By Alexandra Bracken

Title: The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

First Published: 5th September 2017

Blurb:

I would say it’s a pleasure to meet thee, Prosperity Oceanus Redding, but truly, I only anticipate the delights of destroying thy happiness.

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type. 

The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.

Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host. (From Goodreads, 22nd February 2019)

Review:

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding is a middle-grade novel that will capture the interest and imagination of both children and adults alike. Or at least for myself, as an adult, it did!

Prosper Redding is part of a family that has achieved a lot, but he does not seem to be following suit. Prosper falls asleep in class, has unremarkable grades and feels that he does not live up to his family name. The Redding families success is due to a long-ago contract with a fiend, a demon, called Alastor. However, the family is waiting for the fiend to return to destroy it. Prosper becomes the unwilling host to Alastor, putting him at risk from his family.

Prosper escapes from his family and hides with his uncle and cousin who are trying to remove the fiend from his body without harming Prosper. Prosper is constantly fighting to not take out a new contract with Alastor and is also unaware of the control the fiend has of his body. Having a demon take control of your body is not always a good thing it would transpire!

I really enjoyed this book, it was fun but also had a dark side and quite a few storylines going on. Although the characters are young they had a full range of emotions and the book dealt with these in a non-patronising way. Highlighting that children do feel despair and loneliness, but that circumstances can change and things can get better.

The storytelling is fantastic and grips you from the very beginning. This is a fast-paced novel that will have you wanting more. I really want to get the second novel in this duology, The Last Life of Prince Alastor, as I enjoyed The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding so much.

I would say boys and girls would both enjoy this book, but that young adults and adults will enjoy it also. It is an escape into a tale of mystery and magic and just a perfect read whilst it is dull and cold outside.

4 out of 5 stars.

A Danger to Herself and Others By Alyssa B. Sheinmel


Title: A Danger to Herself and Others

Author: Alyssa Sheinmel

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

First Published: February 5th 2019

Audiobook Narrator: Devon Sorvari

Blurb:

Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape… 

Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there’s been a mistake. She didn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn’t a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place. (From Goodreads, 19th February 2019)

Review:

We meet Hannah in a locked room of a psychiatric hospital, but we do not know what has brought her there. We are drawn into her mind, seeing everything from her point of view. To begin with, she only has short interactions with her psychiatrist who she names Lightfoot. Our only knowledge of why she is there is written on her file, Hannah is deemed “a danger to herself and others”. We begin to learn more about Hannah when she gains a roommate, Lucy. When Lucy arrives Hannah begins to reveal her more manipulative side and we start to feel the undertones of why Hannah may be in the hospital.

A Danger to Herself and Others is a difficult book to review as I do not want to give any spoilers. For the first third to half of the book, I was questioning a lot of the reality of the setting and treatment given which gave me an inkling about the progression of the novel. I felt uneasy about the novel but I think this was intentional. Once we learn more about Hannah and what brought her to the hospital things begin to make sense and the book became more comfortable to read.

This novel has a very constrained list of characters and focuses almost solely on Hannah and her view of things and this means we have an unreliable narrator. For some people, this novel may feel quite slow as there isn’t too much action, especially in the beginning, but it is a good insight into someone’s mind. This is what I found interesting, was the slow build-up of character. A Danger to Herself and Others is different from most books set in a psychiatric hospital that I have read as this novel does not focus too heavily on the interactions between patients, other than between Hannah and Lucy. Things begin to progress a bit faster in the second half of the book as we begin to learn more about what transpired leading Hannah to be placed in the hospital. This is when I began to enjoy the book more.

An issue I had, however, was the ending, it was sudden and although realistic it did not really highlight the potential for recovery, it focused mainly on the negatives like recurrent relapses. This I felt was a negative way to end a book, which I feel could have done more to inspire hope towards readers.

My overall opinion of A Danger to Herself and Others was that it tackled mental health problems that are usually not seen in young adult fiction. But it lacked depth into these illnesses and did not inspire hope in the way that it could have. I understand being realistic but I just felt the ending was drab. I felt a lot more could have been done with this novel.

I listened to the audiobook of A Danger to Herself and Others and felt the narrator did a fantastic job of bringing to life Hannah as a character. I would recommend listening to this audiobook for a more immersive experience.

3.5 out of 5

The Bear and the Nightingale By Katherine Arden

Title: The Bear and the Nightingale

Author: Katherine Arden

Publisher: Del Rey Books

First Published: 12th January 2017

Audiobook Narrator: Katherine Arden

Blurb:

“‘Frost-demons have no interest in mortal girls wed to mortal men. In the stories, they only come for the wild maiden.’ 

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods…” (From Goodreads, 15th February 2019)

Review:

This is the first novel in the Winternight Trilogy By Katherine Arden. I listened to this novel as an audiobook and enjoyed the narrators take of this book. However, not having read many books set in Russia I struggled with following the characters due to the unfamiliar names. I think that possibly reading this book physically would have made this initial issue less problematic.

The Bear and the Nightingale is an enchanting tale about a strong-willed young girl name Vasilisa who soaks up stories her old nurse-maid tells her and her siblings next to the firelight during the long winter in Russia. These fairytales tell of demons who live in the forest are both enchanting and chilling. However, when Vasilisa’s father brings home a new wife who is a devout follower of the church the talk of demons and house spirits is no longer allowed. This is a bone of contention between Vasilisa and her step-mother. The family are no longer allowed to pay tribute to the house spirits, and this scares Vasilisa as she alone can see the house spirits. Soon crops begin to fail, the fire needs more fuel and, more worryingly, evil in the forest begins to creep towards the house. Soon the stories Vasilisa was once told no longer seem to be stories and she must use her gifts to try and keep her family safe regardless of the consequences.

This is a beautiful story of one girl’s struggle with being different and dealing with forces that others cannot see. This is a novel of folklore and is magical and dark. Books set in Russia are very new to me and so I do not know if the tales in this story are based on Russian folklore, but it feels like it is. I am excited to read the next novel in the trilogy as I feel it will up the ante even more and will bring more magical tales that are deliciously dark and enthralling.

The writing style was beautiful with the right balance of description and action once we got to the main part of the novel. The novel certainly picks up the pace throughout, leading to a dramatic conclusion.

My only drawback is that it took me a while to get into this book, as there were so many characters introduced and I struggled to keep track of their names and character relationships. I felt that maybe there was a bit too much of an information dump at the beginning but this may be important to the following novels, but as it stands after reading the first novel I felt this information was too much too soon.

4 out of 5

Audiobooks

Audiobooks have become a love of mine over the last two years. When I was finding it difficult to read physical books due to lack of attention audiobooks allowed me to keep escaping into the pages of books.

Where do I get audiobooks?I get my audiobooks from two places, firstly the library. Unfortunately, my library has quite a poor selection of audiobooks available digitally, and their physical audiobooks have often skipped and not played properly. This led me to start using audible, an Amazon company. I started off with their free trial, I then went to a monthly subscription, and now I pay a year in full. Audible subscriptions work on a credit system with one credit getting you one audiobook. Another aspect I like about Audible is whispersync for voice feature. This is when you buy a Kindle book you can get the audiobook at a reduced price. When you read your Kindle book, you can then listen to the audiobook and it will have updated to where you have read to, and vice-versa. I like Audible, however, there are other places to go for audiobooks, for example, Scribed, Google Play Books, Kobo, Nook, and iTunes. These are just some examples but I do not know how good these services are or what their value for money is. I would first suggest checking out what your local library has to offer as this is a way to trial audiobooks for yourself without the outlay of money.

What audiobooks do I recommend? I recommend any book narrated by Stephen Fry. Stephen Fry has a wonderfully emotive voice and he immerses you in whatever story he is telling. I would recommend the Harry Potter books narrated by Stephen Fry. I found beginning to listen to audiobooks I could drift a bit from the story, so listening to a book I already had read I would be able to concentrate better and get into the way of audiobooks. Plus Stephen Fry just brings to life the Harry Potter books that take me back to my childhood when I first read these magical stories.

The Diviners series by Libba Bray narrated by January LaVoy are fantastically creepy and beautifully told. This is a perfect series if you are looking for a supernatural mystery with a sinister feel. Set in the 1920’s Evie O’Neil becomes integral in capturing an occult serial killer who is terrifying to read about.

The Strange the Dreamer duology By Lanni Taylor narrated by Steve West is another fantastic audiobook to listen to. This is a beautifully lyrical book that is brought to life in its narration. We follow Lazlo Strange who is obsessed with the city of Weep, a city that has lost its true name. When Lazlo gets the chance to visit Weep he is taken on a thrilling adventure where he discovers more about what happened to Weep and why this city fell. This is a series where it is best to go in without knowing much about the novels and just falling into the story. Definitely one for those who like beautiful writing and light fantasy.

Norse Mythology By Neil Gaiman narrated by Neil Gaiman is also a good audiobook to listen to. His take on Norse mythology is entertaining and easy to access. It is an audiobook you can nip in and out of as each chapter is a separate story. I listened to this book in one day, but will definitely listen to again. This again is a good starting place for audiobooks as it is lots of little stories that you can listen to without having to concentrate for long periods of time, and will allow you to get into the way of listening to books.

An audiobook I really enjoyed but is a little harder to follow was Challenger Deep By Neal Schusterman narrated by Michael Curran-Dorsano. This is a novel about a young boy in a psychiatric hospital, whilst experiencing psychotic symptoms. This is a beautiful portrayal of mental illness. This is an entertaining listen with an important look at mental health. Flitting between Caden when he is present in the hospital and when he is consumed by his hallucinations we experience a story of creativity and poignancy. An important read for anyone interested in mental health.

There are a lot of audiobooks out there with fantastic narrators that bring the character to life. It is one of the most immersive forms of ready I have experienced and is delightful. I am hoping that I have convinced at least one person to try out audiobooks with this post.

Audiobooks I am looking forward to reading. I have a few audiobooks in my library that I am excited to listen to. Firstly, there is Sadie By Courtney Summers which is narrated by a full cast. I have heard fantastic things about Sadie and am interested in listening to a full cast narration of the book. Sadie’s sister has been murdered but the police investigation was botched, so Sadie is going to try and find the killer herself. West Macray is a crime podcaster and starts to publish content about Sadie’s sisters murder, we therefore listen to Sadie’s story both from her own point of view and via West’s podcasts. I think this inclusion of podcasts will make the story more immersive and interesting to listen to and I look forward to getting to this book.

Mythos by Stephen Fry narrated by himself is another audiobook I am looking forward to listening to…basically I love Stephen Fry and having a book written by him which he narrates is all I need to know!

Before the Devil Breaks You By Libba Bray is the third book in the Diviners series and having enjoyed the first two instalments I can’t wait to find out what happens to the characters next and what evil will show up in this novel.

I hope this introduction to audiobooks was interesting and helpful.

The Archived By Victoria Schwab

Title: The Archived

Author: Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Hyperion

First Published: January 22nd 2013

Blurb:

“The dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead, called ‘Histories’, rest in the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper is dangerous and a constant reminder of those she lost, Da and her little brother. Mac wonders about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. Yet someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.” (From Goodreads, 20th January 2015)

Review:

One of the things any book lover enjoys is a book about books, libraries, and drama. The archive however, is a different type of library, the books contain the histories of the dead individuals. However, violent histories break free and Mackenzie must stop them. Moving house, she has found her new home has many more histories waking up, needing to be returned to the Archive. Soon she is pulled in to a deeper mystery within the Archive as not all is as it seems.

This novel is fast paced and a very quick read. It is a book to grab the attention of reluctant readers, young adults, teens and adults alike will enjoy this novel. This book is the first in a series and I am yet to read any further, however, I definitely will be.

5 out of 5

The Madness Underneath By Maureen Johnson

Title: The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2)

Author: Maureen Johnson

First Published: 26th February 2013

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books

Blurb:

When madness stalks the streets of London, no one is safe…

There’s a creepy new terror haunting modern-day London.
Fresh from defeating a Jack the Ripper killer, Rory must put her new-found hunting skills to the test before all hell breaks loose…

But enemies are not always who you expect them to be and crazy times call for crazy solutions. (From Goodreads, 25th May 2014)

Review:

After enjoying ‘The Name of the Star’ as much as I did I was excited to jump into ‘The Madness Underneath’. I was excited as I thought this second novel was going to be even more enjoyable because it concerned mental health patients…unfortunately such characters did not appear often or really play any central role. The excitement of the chase that was so strong in ‘The Name of the Star’ was lost and we are left reading a teen romance. I was disappointed. I was expecting ‘The Madness Underneath’ to be even more action packed than ‘The Name of the Star’ since it was the second in the series and we know the characters, their gifts, and I expected a fast paced sequel.

However, once I neared the end of the novel we returned to the gripping, thrilling writing by Maureen Johnson that we see in ‘The Name of the Star’. Soon I was at the end, mouth wide, eyes wide and breathless. Frantically I put my computer on and searched for the release date of the third novel in this series…then comes tears. So long to wait. Another book whose release date keeps getting pushed back. My advice – wait until the third book is released and marathon all three novels.

Okay, so by itself ‘The Madness Underneath’ gets 2 out of 5. However, as a series I place this as a 4 out of 5…but that may change once ‘The Shadow Cabinet’ is released and I can see if it rectifies the failings in this second Shades of London book.