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Shades of London Series by Maureen Johnson #BriFri #BookReview

By Joyweesemoll @joyweesemoll

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post.

Did you lift a pint and join last week’s link party? I learned the most from the book review of Blossom by Lesley Riddoch at FictionFan’s Book Reviews — all about the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence. The election will happen during the time we’ll be traveling in the UK, so I’m going to take more of an interest!

For my post this week, I have a review of a fun series about an American student going to school in London.

Book: The Name of the Star and The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
Genre: YA novels
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 2013
Pages: 290

Source: Won for the Bloggiesta mini-challenge on organization and productivity at Read Sleep Repeat. Thanks, Shelly!

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

I can’t summarize this, at all, without a spoiler to the first book in the series — so go read The Name of the Star!

Summary: I’m finding it utterly impossible to summarize The Madness Underneath without a spoiler for the earlier book, The Name of the Star. Fortunately, I never fully reviewed The Name of the Star, so I’ll lump these two books together and not spoil either one.

In The Name of the Star, we meet 17-year-old Rory Deveaux as she makes a transition from a small-town public school in Louisiana to a London boarding school. The novel is set in modern times, but someone is re-creating the grisly Jack the Ripper murders on their anniversary dates. Even with all those modern CCTV cameras, no one can catch the killer. Rory, with a newly-acquired skill and some odd British friends, ends up joining in the hunt.

Thoughts: The Name of the Star proved to be a great way to review the Jack the Ripper story. The Madness Underneath covers less history, but I learned a little about Bedlam. For the purpose of British Isles Friday, the most fun moments are the ones where we get to see the London landmarks, like this late-night drive:

West was the way to central London. The black cabs got more numerous, the path along the Thames thicker with trees and impressive buildings, the lights on the opposite bank shinier. I caught sight of the London Eye, glowing brightly in the dark, then we were going right, into the very heart of London.

We pulled up into the circular drive of what I first thought was a hotel. It was a moment before I noticed the sign for the Tube, the distinctive red circle with the blue bar across it. We were at Charing Cross station.

Charing Cross Station

Thanks to R/DV/RS on Flickr for making this photo available under a Creative Commons license. See more great travel and event photos by this photographer here:

You can see why Rory thought she was at a hotel. In fact, that part above the doors is a hotel — Charing Cross Hotel, a recently renovated Victorian railway hotel.

Appeal: The Shades of London series is YA that will appeal to adults, as well, with an adventurous plot, a humorous narrative voice, and a spooky yet romantic peek of London.

Reviews: If you have read The Name of the Star, then check out these reviews of The Madness Underneath that let more of the cat creep out of the bag:

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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