By Maureen Johnson
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
To Sum It Up: After making a painful and fateful decision, Rory and the team are determined to find their missing friend, but they must also devote precious time to thwarting Rory’s former captor, Jane. Jane’s plans are far more elaborate and nefarious than previously thought and put all of London in danger. It’s up to Rory and friends to stop her, and they’re going to need every resource at their disposal, including ghostly ones, to do so.
Review: For some reason, I thought that The Shadow Cabinet was the conclusion to the Shades of London series, but it’s not. And I’m happy about that, because after reading this, I’m not yet ready to say goodbye. I also feel that I haven’t raved about this series enough; I’ll try to remedy that now.
The previous book, The Madness Underneath, went out on a heartbreaking cliffhanger, and The Shadow Cabinet picks up with the immediate aftermath. The Shades, i.e. London’s ghost police, are without a leader, and their supervisor from MI5, Thorpe, steps in to fill the gap. I like Thorpe. He’s the quintessential intelligence guy—efficient and enigmatic; it’s the enigmatic part that intrigues me, of course. Thorpe has been steadily seeing more page time with each book in the series (he also appears in the prequel novella, The Boy in the Smoke), and I approve. I would also approve of a Thorpe novella.
After everything that Rory has seen and been through, it’s not surprising that she’s grown quite a bit since The Name of the Star. The anecdotal humor that she’s so brilliant at is still present, but I think this book is the most serious in tone yet in the series. It makes sense, though, because Rory and the squad are walking around with very heavy hearts, plus the threat they’re attempting to stop is very, very scary.
Jane, the “therapist” who turned out to be a murderous lunatic in The Madness Underneath, continues to create gigantic problems for Rory and her friends. The Shadow Cabinet further explores Jane’s past and reveals a plot that could wreak havoc all over London. The conviction with which Jane and her associates believe in what they’re doing is frightening, and an overall feeling of dread looms over the novel. It’s the unshakeable sensation that something really, really bad could happen to anyone at any time. Credit Maureen Johnson with pacing this book so perfectly. I felt compelled to turn the pages quickly because I was so engrossed in the story, but at the same time, I was afraid to actually find out what awaited on the next page and even the next sentence.
I have to admit that I’m a wee bit frustrated with how my ship is going, but as the romance in the series has been low-key from the beginning, it didn’t rain on my overall enjoyment of the book. I also found the resolution to the novel’s Big Momentous Moment a little abrupt. It happened at the end of a chapter, and that was that. Again, though, this was not a deal breaker to enjoying the novel, especially considering the complex, thrilling match of wits that ensues between Rory and Team Ghost Squad and Jane and Team Crazy Cult. The Shadow Cabinet really delivers on the suspense and the spooky, and the ending promises much more of both in book four.
All in All: I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and I definitely appreciated the balance between wrapping up a major plotline from the previous book and setting up the next installment.