Maureen Johnson’s third installment in her bestselling series Shades of London, The Shadow Cabinet is a great addition with more character development, group dynamics, and expansion of the culture within the part of London that holds secrets. This series follows Rory, a Louisiana native, who is living a year abroad with her parents and studying at Wexford in London. This is where Rory has a near death experience and starts to see people that others cannot. She has the ability to see ghosts and meets others like her. Soon Rory becomes part of a group with Stephen, Boo, and Callum, who risk their lives every day finding ghosts and fighting them. In the first novel, Rory’s sight is developed while she tries to solve murders that reenact Jack the Rippers’. This leads to the second and third installments, which focus on an occult that wants to defeat death by reducing the separation between the living and the dead. With dangerous ghosts, secret organizations, the search to find the objects that keep the living and the dead separate and a race to save London from the past, this story is a humorous and suspenseful thriller.
Rory is a strong narrator and protagonist throughout the series, being both a realistic teenager and heroine who matures with more knowledge and control over her abilities. Her quirky behavior stems from her deep family roots and southern upbringing. During important moments in the novel, Rory will reflect upon the situation by telling stories of her family and life in Louisiana, connecting the past to her present while providing great character development with humor and wit. Through this novel she battles with her ability and starts to develop an understanding of the importance in what she does. Her interactions with the group members create a unique dynamic with excellent dialogue and suspense that expands on character development for the whole group. Even when terrible events occur, they always come back to the group to help each other and the world.
The setting of London and its magic roots are further elaborated on through the past and the occult. The culture of the nineteen seventies and the occult are added to ensure the reader understands the difference between the time periods. Rory and her friends discover this past that was forgotten and acquire a new understanding of the parts of London that have been hidden.
History plays an important role in the entire series adding bits of historic events and mythology for a realistic setting and plot. Historic events and landmarks are used to develop London and Rory’s own family history, which is important in driving her actions and the plot. From the history of Jack the Ripper to the occult that used the Greek mysteries, the past cannot be forgotten.
The Shadow Cabinet is highly recommended for those that enjoy mystery, suspense, ghosts, secrets, and great group dynamics with quirky humor. It will leave the reader waiting patiently for the next installment.
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