This novel is the second book in Johnson’s Shades of London series. The first book, The Name of the Star, was an Edgar Award nominee.
After her near-fatal face-off with the Jack the Ripper copycat Alexander Newman, Rory Devereaux has left school to live in Bristol with her parents. She can’t tell anyone what actually happened; there is too great a chance that she will find herself in a mental health institution. The stress and anxiety are seriously affecting Rory’s mind and body. The therapist she is seeing is useless since Rory can’t tell her the truth. The prospect of never being able to tell people the truth about being able to see ghosts or her involvement in the Jack-the-Ripper criminal investigation is frightening and overwhelming for Rory.
So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory is eager to get back to school and normal life. One downside: she discovers that she has acquired another talent. She’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city’s secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. They need her because Newman had destroyed their mechanical termini; now they have a human one. There is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory discovers that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.
In addition to her other problems, she is failing her classes, and she becomes involved in a cult of people who share her talent for seeing ghosts. They want to use her abilities for their own agenda.
This book ends with another cliffhanger that makes the reader want the third book immediately. It is much more tightly written than the first book, without the day-to-day teenage detritus that tended to clutter The Name of the Star.