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Thursday, May 07, 2015

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Ohmygoodness how much did I LOVE this book?!  <--See?  I can't even write coherently or maturely about it.  Too excited.  I've been waiting nearly a year since the last book in the series!  That was entirely too long.  And now I'll probably have to wait another year for the next book....  If you haven't yet started this series, I do recommend that you start with the first book, The Name of the Star, followed by The Madness Underneath before reading this review.

This YA series is just jam packed with all the things I love:  it's set in modern-day London, most of the characters attend a boarding school, the main character is from small-town Louisiana, there are ghosts, and one of them is Jack the Ripper.  In The Shadow Cabinet, there even two "bonus" elements:  interdimensional (I think I just made that word up) travel and a cult!

I know that's quite a list of plot elements, but never you fear:  Maureen Johnson weaves it all together so very skillfully, and manages to include a lot of character development and interaction in between all the action.  During the previous book, Rory met the Shades, a kind of ghostbustin' group that are responsible for her still being alive.  In this book, the reader really gets to know the Shades a lot better as she works with them to find Stephen's spirit and bring him back, out of his coma.  One of Rory's tasks is to go through a ton of notes and books from Stephen's apartment to try to determine where his spirit may have settled, and as she goes through the personal items and journals, we learn a lot about him and his interest in the Shadow Cabinet.  This is also where we get a little romantic development in the book:  Rory isn't blind, and knows that Jerome is awesomely sweet and really cute, but he doesn't know about ghosts.  Stephen is also really cute, and Rory can talk to him about ghosts.  You'll just have to read the book to find out how all that goes!

For a medium-length YA book, Maureen Johnson sneaks in plenty of atmosphere.  I so loved reading about Rory's travels around London in pursuit of Stephen!  London is definitely on my travel wish-list, but reading books set there is as close as I can get right now.  There's a fantastic scene in the book in a cemetery.  I won't give away any spoilers, but there is foggy mist.  That feels very "London" to me.

I can't talk about the Shadow Cabinet too much without spoilers, but it turns out that it's something like the Illuminati theories here in America.  Or the Knights Templar.  And Stephen was looking into it, so the rest of the Shades end up looking into it too.  Very realistically, many of the characters are non-believers, but a few are skeptical believers.  I can talk a little more about the cult.  The book opens with a flashback scene to the 1970s, where two young people have recruited ten other young people into their worship of ancient Greek gods.  During a ceremony, they kill all the kids.  Fast forward 40 years, and now the Shades discover a tenuous link between Rory's psychologist, her classmate Charlotte's disappearance, and this cult from way back when.

I read physical copies of the first two books, and branched out into audio for this third book.  WOW!  I may need to go back and listen to the first two also.  Nicola Barber is one of my new all-time favorite narrators after this.  She does nonregional dictation for most of the book, and a realistic Louisiana accent for Rory, and a clear & fantastic British accent for all the other characters!  And she switches smoothly and effortlessly through all three accents!  I was so impressed with the conversations between Rory and any other character, when Nicola had to switch back and forth multiple times between southern & British accents.

Two super enthusiastic thumbs up!


Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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