Tuesday 24 March 2015


Book review: The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London #3) by Maureen Johnson

My edition: Paperback, published on 5 February 2015 by Hot Key Books, 374 pages.

Description: Grieving, shaken, and feeling very much alone, Rory's life as a member of the Shades of London has changed irrevocably. It's only been a matter of hours since Stephen was taken from her, possibly for ever. Her classmate Charlotte is still missing, kidnapped by the same people who tried to take Rory. Rory is no longer a schoolgirl haplessly involved in the dealings of a secret government unit. She is their weapon in a matter of life and death.

With hardly a moment to think for herself, Rory is back to work. Charlotte must be found -- as must Stephen, if he is even out there. Lines must be drawn and forces rallied. Something is brewing under London, something bigger and much more dangerous than what has come before. The Shadow Cabinet holds the key to everything, and it is up to Rory to unravel its mysteries before time runs out...


After raving about Hot Key Book's amazing releases in my recent review of James Dawson's Under My Skin, I had the pleasure to read another one of their new titles: the third instalment in Maureen Johnson's Shades of London series, The Shadow Cabinet. I've been a fan of this excellent young adult author ever since I randomly discovered 13 Little Blue Envelopes in Waterstones when I had just moved to London and while the Shades of London books are a completely different genre and style, they still hold the same compelling way of storytelling and excellently developed characters, which will appeal to teens and adults alike.

The book starts with a sinister prologue set in the 1970s, which sets the dark tone for the rest of the story, followed by the immediate aftermath of the devastating events that happened at the end of the second novel, The Madness Underneath; Rory has run away from school, Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane, and Stephen... well, he may be gone forever.

It's a chaotic starting point for a book but it does ensure that there is no lack of action or excitement within those first few chapters. And in truth, it never really dies down for the duration of the novel; it's a roller-coaster ride that will toy with the reader's emotions while at rapid speed unveiling an entirely new dimension to the world so cleverly crafted by Maureen Johnson.

Because I read the first book in the series, The Name of the Star, over three years ago and the second one nearly two years ago it took me a little while to get back into the story and the ghost-infused world it is set in. I didn't clearly remember what had happened previously, or even who all the characters were, which made for a confusing beginning to my reading journey. I could have done with a quick catch-up at the start, but that may just be because I'm getting forgetful in my old age!

Once the previous events came back to me though I was quickly absorbed into this hugely exciting tale, which moved the story of Rory and the Shades to an entirely new and much more epic level than ever before. There were particularly intriguing developments with Thorpe and a link to the sinister prologue, which brought the entire series to date full-circle. I loved the idea behind The Shadow Cabinet (not to be confused with the real life government institution), which was super fascinating in a conspiracy-theory kind of way and opened up the world of the Shades to many more exciting developments down the line.

While The Shadow Cabinet is very much a 'middle' book in a series – it'd be difficult for those who haven't read the previous novels to pick this one up and understand what's going on – for fans of Shades of London the third instalment is a real treat. With great character and story development it opens up Maureen Johnson's already epic world to a whole slew of new possibilities. I for one cannot wait to see where she's taking the Shades next!

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.

Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:

Website: www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com

Twitter: @maureenjohnson

Twitter: www.facebook.com/maureenjohnsonbooks

Many thanks to the publisher for copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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