Seventeen-year-old Rory’s life as she knows it is gone. Heartbroken, shaken and feeling more alone than ever, she can’t see how she can pick herself up and carry on as before. But something horrifying is stirring beneath London, and only Rory can stop it.
By the beginning of The Shadow Cabinet, shit has really hit the fan. Callum is gone, Boo is running around the hospital trying to find the ghost of Stephen, meanwhile Rory stands vigil next to the body of Stephen wondering, among other things, what the hell happened to her life.
Maureen Johnson really knows how to keep a reader on their toes.
So, let’s review: after choking on some stew and getting the power to see ghosts, Rory is stalked and nearly murdered by ghost of Jack the Ripper-alike. Then, after being blown up by a terminus (a ghost gun, of sorts), she becomes one, meaning she can dispatch ghosts with a touch. While in therapy over all this, Rory’s therapist – who, as it turns out is the leader of a supernatural cult – tries to kidnap her to harness the power of the terminus for as yet unknown purposes. Stephen saves her, getting what turns out to be a fatal head wound in the process. And the night before Stephen died, he and Rory totally made out, finally.
If The Madness Underneath was about choices, then The Shadow Cabinet is all about consequences. Rory chose the ghost police over regular life. She got kicked out of Wexford then she ran away. There’s no turning back now. No contact with her parents, a new look to disguise her from the people who are looking from her (she’s a redhead now and I can only assume she looks great) and a new home with Thorpe, the creepy secret agent who turned out to be an okay guy.
The Shadow Cabinet is such an effective read because it’s a complete shake up of the status quo. All of the places and people Rory has spent her time with are gone now, along with any pretence that she’s going to have a normal life. Stephen, who has been the leader throughout is gone (at least for now) and the team have to figure out how to direct themselves without him. The thing simmering between him and Rory that was unspoken for so much of the first two books comes to the forefront. They’re in love, and Stephen being dead is only one of the things that makes their relationship complicated.
The supernatural landscape of London widens massively throughout this book – reality, as Rory has previously known it, is all but abandoned completely. In #3 we leave the muggles behind: ghosts get more complicated, the barriers between life and death get increasingly blurred and it turns out there are more secret ghost jobs than the ghost police.
All of which is to say… hopefully the final book will come out soon. Johnson has the first in a new series, Truly Devious coming out in January. Though I’m sure it’ll be great… I really would have preferred the final Shades book. I am way too invested in Rory and Stephen not to find out how it ends.
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