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Book Review: The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Look, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Maureen Johnson. You didn’t know? Do you live under a rock? I follow her everywhere – Tumblr, Twitter, etc. She has a fantastically skewed sense of humor that I find appealing, and I love how much she cares about the young people for whom she writes and the issues that affect their daily lives. But more than her online persona, I love her novels. And her Shades of London series is well written, inventive, tightly paced, and gripping.  The most recent installment, book three of four in the series, more than lives up to expectations set in the first two.

Closely following the events of Madness Underneath, book three, The Shadow Cabinet, details the events of the days following Stephen’s untimely accident. Also BE DO BE DO BE DO! *spoiler alert* if you haven’t read books one and two, please stop here. You should scroll down to the bottom of this post, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for The Shadow Cabinet, then proceed directly to your local bookseller, library, or best friend with discriminating taste in YA literature to obtain copies of the first two books in the series.


Okay, so if you’ve read the first two books, you know that book three starts with Rory, Callum, and Boo searching for Stephen’s ghost. Unfortunately, he is nowhere to be found. They are also working closely with Thorpe, their government agent/supervisor/babysitter to locate Rory’s classmate, Charlotte, who has been abducted by the same cult that attempted to abduct Rory. Thorpe is doing his best to keep Rory safe from the cult – and she is doing her best to put herself in harm’s way. And, in the midst of all of this, Stephen’s body is taken by an unknown agency.

There are so many twists and turns in this novel, I’m reluctant to get into too much detail for fear of spoiling the book for those who haven’t read it. I do want to say, though, that those of you who missed Rory’s friends from school will be pleased to find that Jerome plays a much larger role in book three than he did in book two. Also, if you were worried about how the series would proceed without Stephen…um…never fear? I suppose that’s all I can say?

Finally, there is an entirely new character, named Freddie, who plays a large part in the book. Often introducing a new character at this juncture might be seen in a ‘cousin Oliver’ light. This one, however, is my favorite insertion of a new character since Dawn. And, for those of you who understand both of those references, *fistbump* you are my people.

This series hits so many interest points for my students that I have a difficult time keeping copies in stock in the library. I think it’s the mix of the ghosts, cults, and mythology of the series and the quirky characters and sense of humor that combine to make it so appealing. I also enjoy giving my book talk for it that includes detailing the near-death experience Rory has that causes her ability to see ghosts. What can I say, middle schoolers love gross stuff.

Want a chance to win your very own copy of The Shadow Cabinet? Enter our Rafflecopter giveaway! Giveaway is open to residents of the United States.

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  1. Such a good series. It’s so hard waiting for the next one!!!

  2. Robin, in addition to your great love for this book, a Goodreads friend recommended this book to me. I guess I better head on out to the bookstore for books 1 & 2.

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