Cover image for The shadow cabinet
Title:
The shadow cabinet
Author:
Johnson, Maureen, 1973-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 2015.
Physical Description:
376 pages ; 22 cm.
Summary:
"Rory, Callum and Boo are still reeling from a series of tragic events, while new dangers lurk around the city from Jane and her nefarious organization"--
Language:
English
Reading Level:
HL 620 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG+ 4.5 14.0 171608.

Reading Counts RC High School 4.5 21 Quiz: 65455.
ISBN:
9780399256622
Format :
Book

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On Order

Summary

Summary

The thrilling third installment to the Edgar-nominated, bestselling series

Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory's classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte's in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they'll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself--and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.


Author Notes

Maureen Johnson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 16, 1973. She received an undergraduate degree in writing from the University of Delaware and a MFA in writing from Columbia University School of the Arts. After college and before graduate school, she was the literary manager of a Philadelphia theater company. Her first book, The Key to the Golden Firebird, was published in 2004. Her other works include 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Devilish, Suite Scarlett, The Last Little Blue Envelope, and the Shades of London series.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The startling cliff-hanger of The Madness Underneath (2013) receives a worthy response in this third though seemingly not final book in the Shades of London series. An intro set in 1973 introduces the best characters in the series so far: twins Sid and Sadie, Bowie-­esque London scenesters of such bored, aristocratic magnetism that their followers will do anything they say including die. The twins' plan to defeat death by means of a mystical stone is uncovered in the modern day by Rory and her gaggle of ghost busters (including new motor-mouthed inductee Freddie) as they try to locate two of their own: the kidnapped Charlotte and the not-quite-dead Stephen. As before, the squad and its overall organization feels half-sketched, and the romantic pairings are a bit pat. The plot, though, is among Johnson's finest and incorporates creepy bits of backstory, fascinating historical asides, and truly ghoulish side characters take, for example, a lumpen cemetery ghost that is just a glob of people pieces mixed together. Lots of juicy setup here for the next outing. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The best-selling previous volume ought to propel this one onto fans' radar, as will a major prepub buzz campaign.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2014 Booklist


School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-This latest series installment picks up right after the events in The Madness Underneath (Putnam, 2014)-the leader of the ghost police squad, Stephen, has just died. Rory was holding his hand, believing that her touch could keep his ghost nearby, but it's nowhere to be found and she's starting to despair. Then his body disappears. Meanwhile, Rory's classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by their shared therapist, Jane, who turns out to have a colorful past as a member of a cult obsessed with the Eleusinian Mysteries, mystic rites that blur the lines between life and death. Johnson introduces new villains and expands her world's mythology as Rory, Callum, and Boo try to rescue Charlotte, navigate the Stephen situation, and eventually get caught up in saving the world. Enough background is given that the book could work as a stand-alone, but that would mean readers would be denying themselves the pleasure of the first two titles. Heavily laced with humor and genuine creepiness, this well-crafted thriller is a winner.-Stephanie Klose, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

The Name of the Star The Madness Underneath ALSO BY MAUREEN JOHNSON 13 Little Blue Envelopes The Last Little Blue Envelope Suite Scarlett Scarlett Fever Girl at Sea Devilish The Bermudez Triangle The Key to the Golden Firebird Vacations from Hell with Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Claudia Gray and Sarah Mlynowski Let It Snow with John Green and Lauren Myracle THE CURTAINS AT 16 HYSSOP CLOSE HADN'T BEEN OPENED all day. The neighbors all agreed--something wasn't right about the place anymore, not since the Smithfield-Wyatts had died and their twins now ruled the roost. The people that went in and out, for a start. Rock musicians. Actors. Old, bearded men in cloaks who the more suspicious locals thought might be poets. Worst of all were the gaggle of young people--all rough-looking, with long hair and ragged, garish clothing. It was the same group every time, coming in and out at all hours, laughing and chatting and flicking their cigarettes into everyone else's rosebushes. ( Were they cigarettes?) And that girl who lived there--the one with her hair cut short and dyed the color of a London bus, the one who wore men's suits--who was she ? Aside from up to no good. The thing was, the twins were always so polite, and they never made any noise, really, so there was no cause to call the police. It wasn't a crime to have strange-looking characters come in and out all day long or not to open the curtains. But things went wrong on Hyssop Close now. There were power cuts that could never be explained and didn't affect neighboring streets. Windows cracked, and cats ran away. Maybe it was a commune. Maybe it was a meeting place for student revolutionaries--those were springing up all over. Why, in New York, these kinds of student groups were taking up residence in the better neighborhoods and building bombs. One of them managed to blow up a house! It had been in the papers. Maybe number sixteen was full of bomb builders. Whatever the case, something was wrong with that house, and the neighbors watched it closely, waiting for the curtains to move, trying to get a glimpse of what was inside . . . • • • Inside, the girl with the short hair dyed the color of a London bus was lighting candles in the main reception room. Her name was Jane Quaint. The group of kids who made the neighbors so wary were sitting on all the sofas and on the thick shag carpets. Jane made her way around the room with her lighter. Sid and Sadie insisted on candlelight, and lots of it. The candlelight was especially effective in this room because so much of the furniture was mirrored, cutting sharp traces of light through the velvety darkness. Blinding light or deepest shadow--this was a room of extremes in a house of extremes. One popular wag had described it as looking like a Victorian brothel on Mars. As she made her way around, Jane examined the visitors' faces in the various reflections and pools of light: Michael, Domino, Prudence, Dinah, Johnny, Mick, Aileen, Badge, George, and Ruth. Jane knew them all so well. They were good kids, all special. Maybe not the brightest, generally, but she was fond of them. "Where are Sid and Sadie?" Dinah asked. Dinah was the youngest--only fifteen. Unlike Jane's, her red hair was natural, and her face was flecked all over with freckles. "Coming," Jane said. "What's going on tonight?" The person asking was Mick--Mick of the beautiful long black hair and a face to match. Everyone was in love with Mick, and he knew it. This easy and widely available love made him presumptuous. He had the air of someone expecting to be told at any moment that he had royal blood and was in line for some minor crown in a far-off but green land. "When Sid and Sadie are ready, they'll be down. When they want you to know what's going on, they'll tell you. Remember, you're lucky to be here." Mick smiled and dared Jane with a flutter of his long eyelashes. "We've been waiting ages. " "You've been waiting an hour. Be quiet and have a smoke or something." "And what's all this for?" He indicated an arrangement of red glass goblets on the mirrored table. "You know better than to ask," Jane said. "When you need to know, you'll know." "Sod that. Give us a drink." "Did you all do as you were told?" Jane asked, ignoring this. Murmurs of assent from around the room. Jane looked to each person to make sure. "Did it matter how long we went in?" Aileen asked. "Only, the pigs come when you get in the river, even down by the beach. I just got in for a minute, but I washed my face and hands like you said." "That should be fine," Jane said. "We'll probably get dysentery," Mick added, half pushing himself from his spot on the rug. "All the blessed children will have naughty tummies from bathing in the Thames. Give us a drink, Jane." "You'll keep your fast until they come down." "I'm going to go up, see what's keeping them." "You're going to see the back of my hand," Jane said. The others watched this tiny dispute with wide-eyed amusement. These breaches of conduct didn't usually happen. Something about tonight was different, and everyone could feel it. Sid and Sadie had summoned the group, and a summons from them brought excitement. Jane understood this better than anyone. Jane's life had been nothing before Sid and Sadie. She was a nobody, stuck in a northern town, working in a shop. Then one night the local menace had followed her across a moonlit field, attacked her, left her for dead. But Jane did not die. She survived the night and gained the gift. From then on, she could see them--the ones on the other side. Her old life was over. She got on a bus and went to London. That she had no money wasn't important to her. She lived in squats and ate thrown-away food from garbage bins and hung out at occult bookstores and read. Then, one summer's day, they walked into the bookshop Jane was in. Sid wore a silver suit with a red tie and had a hat cocked over his eye. Sadie was like a wood nymph in a flowing green silk dress and soft leather slippers. They looked like creatures from another, more perfect world. They smelled of night jasmine and patchouli and fine cigarettes. They looked at Jane on the floor, dressed in her filthy, stolen dress, reading Aleister Crowley. Sadie walked right up to her, looked down, and said, "Why do I feel like you might be one of us? Sid, you see it, don't you?" Sid tipped back his hat and considered Jane. "I think so, dear sister. I think so. Your eyes are opened, aren't they, love?" How they knew, Jane could never tell. She would soon learn that Sid and Sadie Smithfield-Wyatt were not like anyone else. They knew things other people did not. If you had the gift, Sid and Sadie considered you family and you became one of theirs --one of that group of strange young people that followed them about. But Jane had always been different, right from the start. Her level of ability was exactly the same as the others--what made her stand out was her toughness. The others had come into their sight in a series of minor accidents or illnesses, then fallen into this lifestyle. Jane had fought for her life on that dark moor. It must have been there, in the set of her jaw, in the look in her eyes. The others were lovely moonchildren--Jane had fought against death and won. Sid and Sadie knew it just by looking at her. They saw all. "Oh, yes," Sid had said, reaching down a hand to help Jane off the floor. "She's special." "I like her, Sid. She belongs with us." "I agree completely, dear sister. It's decided, then. You're coming with us. We have far better books." He dismissed the bookstore and everyone in it with a flick of the wrist. Everything about them was right and sure, and so Jane took Sid's hand and went outside with them. She got into their yellow Jaguar, and together they rode off to Chelsea. A week later, she moved into their house with them and became their second in command. That was five years ago. In many ways, everything had been building to this night. Mick was about to start mouthing off again when, as if on cue, the door to the living room opened. Sid and Sadie filled the space. They were twins--not identical, of course, but their resemblance was remarkable. They were both tall, both blond and pale. They wore similar makeup--a silvery dusting on the cheeks and white above the eyes, an effect that seemed to erase their eyebrows and give their blue eyes a spectral appearance. In defiance of the cold and the dark, they were dressed completely in white--Sid in a light white suit, Sadie in a filmy, almost transparent gown that brushed and clung to the heavy carpet. Around their necks they wore identical silver lockets in the shape of a crescent moon. "Well, well," Sid said. "Who's being impatient?" "The usual suspect," Jane said, pointing at Mick. Mick was still smiling, but he dug his fingertips into the carpet sheepishly. "That will never do," Sid said, leaning down to look at Mick. "It will never do." "Sorry, Sid," Mick mumbled. All of his bravado slipped away. "All is forgiven. You know we can't help but love you." Sid patted Mick's head, and he and his sister continued into the room, the group leaning and moving to clear whatever path they chose to take. "What's happening tonight?" asked Dinah. "You said it was something special." "Oh, it is," Sid said, coming around and taking a seat. "Wonderful things are happening," Sadie added, smiling at Jane across the room. "Tonight, we celebrate the most sacred mystery in our faith. Jane, will do you the honors?" Jane picked up the red crystal decanter from the sideboard and filled the glasses on the table. "The kykeon," Sadie said. "The sacred drink of the mysteries. We have prepared it exactly as it should be prepared. The sacred barley, the mint, the honey." "We're performing the mysteries tonight?" Dinah said. "We are indeed, darling," Sid said, handing her a glass. A wave of excited shock seemed to pass around the room. Jane had been waiting for this. It was no small thing to perform the mysteries. "You didn't tell us," Domino said. "It's best to come to these things with a fresh and open mind," Sadie said. "There is nothing better than a surprise." "Have you all done as instructed?" Sid asked. "Have you washed in the sacred river and kept your fast?" Again, murmurs of assent, but louder this time, and Mick was among them. Sid and Sadie passed out the glasses, touching each person on the head gently, whispering a friendly word to each. Jane poured three last glasses, for herself and Sid and Sadie. Once they had their glasses, Sid and Sadie took their positions at the other end of the room. "Tonight," Sadie said, "as you know, is the solstice. As a family, we dismiss the dark. As a family, we know there is no day, there is no night, there is no life without death and no death without life. We are a circle, without end. And tonight, I ask you to lift your glasses. Tonight, something wonderful will be revealed. Lift, and drink." Thirteen glasses were lifted. Ten drank. "Oh," Dinah said, taking the glass from her lips. "It tastes . . ." She was the first to twitch. She was the smallest, after all. Within moments, the ten on the floor all began to cough and grab at their throats. Jane saw that flicker of confusion--the realization that the drink had more to it than a bitter taste. "It will be quick," Sid said. "Don't fight it, my loves." Jane had expected it to be a little less dramatic--that they would just nod off and sleep. She wasn't expecting them to gag and cry and claw at the air and the carpet. There was a smell of almond mixing with the incense and candle smoke--then a bit of vomit. George started crawling to the door, but Sadie set her foot on his back and he dropped to the floor. The noise was the worst part, so Sid went to the console and put the needle on a record and turned up the volume. Soon, the room was flooded with the sound of David Bowie's latest. It took about five minutes, long enough for a song to play out. Mick was the last to go, and he was the one Jane had to watch. She saw that beautiful face, so cheerfully smug, turn ashen. She saw the panic in his eyes. She saw this proud, lovely creature realize he was about to die--and even though he said he didn't believe in death, his expression told a different story. She wanted to reach out to him, to go to him and cradle him and reassure him. It would be all right. It was worth it. But she found that she couldn't move, except when Mick made one final, brave lunge for where she was standing by the back door. Jane jumped aside in terror. Mick didn't quite make it to the door when he was overcome. He landed by her feet and stopped moving. There was no more music. Sid had chosen a track near the end of the side, so there was the whispery hiss of the record as it played out the silent bit where the grooves stopped. Jane heard the tiny sound of the arm of the record player lifting and going back to its resting position. There was no more movement from the people scattered around the room. "Well, that's a relief," Sid said. "It went on a bit longer than expected, but the best things often do. We should press on." Sadie went to the table and opened the large box, revealing three knives with curved blades. "I have taken from the kiste," she said, removing two and passing one to her brother. She held out the third for Jane. Jane found herself unable to leave her spot by the wall. She had known there would be ten bodies, but she had never envisioned them like this, contorted, twisted in pain. Some had grabbed hold of others, forming a horrid knot. She hadn't imagined having to step over and around them--these things that had been people seconds before. "Jane . . ." Sadie prompted. "Sorry," Jane said. "Yes. Of course." Jane shook her head, took a deep breath, and stepped over Mick. His lovely black hair covered most of his face, but not all of it. His eyes were bloodshot and wide, his mouth open, gasping, the lips blue. She took the third knife. It was short work to make a small cut in each body. As the blood drained out, a bit from each person was put into a clean wineglass that the three of them passed around, until all ten bodies had been sampled. "This carpet will have to go," Sid said sadly, looking at his feet. "But come, now. No time to waste." The three ascended the darkened stairs together, to the room at the top of the house. This room faced the street. This was the library--quiet and padded with overlapping Persian carpets and tapestries. The incense and smoke had woven into every fiber and every page. Every surface aside from the shelves had a patina of candle wax and ash. And the books--the precious books that Sid and Sadie had so carefully gathered from every corner of the earth, these were stored lovingly. They were fragile, many hand-copied, and most had no duplicate anywhere. Sadie went to the window and pulled open the curtains, releasing a visible cloud of dust and filling the room with a delicate moonlit glow. "Must you, darling?" Sid asked. He stood at the round table in the middle of the room that held a bottle and a metal goblet. "We need moonlight," Sadie said. "It's proper, if not strictly necessary." "I suppose, but those nosy old dears from across the way will probably look in. You know what they're like." "Let them." Sid held up the wineglass of blood and examined it in the moonlight. "The blood in the light," he said. Sadie smiled and came over to join him. "Blessed Demeter," she said, picking up the bottle. "Fab, fab, fab Demeter." "Oh, Sid. Show a little respect." "She knows I love her." At the same time, they poured the contents of their respective containers into the goblet--the blood flowing more slowly than the barley liquid. When the cup was full, Sadie picked up a curved blade, similar to the ones from downstairs, and gently stirred the substances together. When this was done, she wiped the blade carefully with a white cloth and set them both down. They had never looked more wonderful to Jane than they did at that moment in the moonlight, over that cup. They were like an image off a tarot card. "Well?" Sadie asked. "Well indeed, dear sister." "Do you feel ready?" she asked. "I always feel ready. The worst we can be is wrong." "We're not wrong," Sadie said. But there was a touch of a question in her voice. Sadie was wavering. Jane was transfixed. She'd never seen either of them hesitate before. "It hardly matters at this point," Sid replied calmly. "There's no going back now, is there?" "I suppose not." "And if we're right, which we are, it's worth the risk. You don't get everything without risking something. We're not meant to grow old, dear sister. We're not meant to die." He ran his finger along the side of his sister's face, tipping up her chin. She broke into a smile. "You're right," she said. "Of course." The touch of nerves passed away, as quick as that. They turned to Jane. "Thank you, Jane," Sadie said. "We will see you soon." "Very soon," Sid said. "I know," said Jane. Sid and Sadie faced each other again. They were alone, lost in their own company, smiling. They reached for their necklaces and opened the lockets. Each contained a small, dirty bit of diamond. "We have performed the work," Sadie said. "And we have, in our own inimitable fashion, replaced the kalathos," Sid replied. They both put a hand on the goblet. "Do I look good?" Sid asked. "I want to look good." "You look wonderful," Sadie replied. "Well," Sid said, "as Oscar Wilde said, 'Either the wallpaper goes, or I do.'" "Oh, Sid. Really. " "Those are fine last words. Can you improve upon them?" "I can," Sadie said. "Here are mine: surprise me. " Sadie drank first, with Sid supporting the goblet when she spasmed and fell back. He put it to his own lips. A few seconds later, the cup fell free and struck the table, spilling the dark red liquid before bouncing to the floor. The dose of poison they had taken was much more concentrated than the one from downstairs. It would go faster. It wasn't fast enough for Jane's liking. She had to watch. It was her duty. She would keep watching for as long as it took to work. The night is darkening round me The wild winds coldly blow But a tyrant spell has bound me And I cannot, cannot go --Emily Brontë, "Spellbound" 1 THE ROOM WAS FULL OF A SOFT DECEMBER-MORNING LIGHT, a kind of gentle dove-gray color. Stephen was on the bed. Glasses off. Peaceful. Outside, London rumbled by as it always did and presumably always would. "Rory, are you sure?" Thorpe said. "Are you sure it worked?" It was just me, Boo, and Thorpe now. Thorpe was our overseer from MI5, someone I knew very little about except that he was young with white hair. Stephen had always been the one to deal with Thorpe, and Thorpe would make things happen. Security systems would be shut down, records altered, CCTV footage obtained, door opened. But Thorpe did not have our ability, our sight, and there was nothing he could do about what was happening now, in this hospital room. Callum was gone--he had stormed out when he realized what I had done. Or, what I thought I'd done. It wasn't like I'd made a choice. There had simply been no time to think of what it all meant. Stephen had been dead for four minutes. "I know he's here," Boo was saying. "We need to start looking. We do the hospital. We do the flat, both the old one and the new one. And if that fails, we come back here and we do it again. Yeah?" I'd grabbed Stephen's hand and hadn't let go. I was a terminus, and if my theory was right, I had the power to pull him back--not to stop him from dying, but to make him a ghost. "I mean . . ." Boo paced the side of the bed by the door, unable to remain still. "When Jo woke up, she woke up where she died. Most of them, we find them where they died. Not all of them, but most of them. A lot of them, anyway. Maybe we need to stay here. Or at least look around the hospital. But here? He'd probably come here? I mean, I think it can take a while sometimes?" No one was listening to Boo. "Do you know anything?" she asked me, her voice pitching high. "Did you feel something, or . . ." It took me a moment to shake myself out of my haze and realize I was supposed to answer. "I don't know," I said. "Rory, try. Try. " "Is that a thing?" Thorpe asked. "Can you . . . feel them?" " Rory, " Boo said. She had broken the seal on my calm, and I felt a surge run through me. I saw it coming, like a big, flat wave off the shoreline, a wall of water about to crash down and take me away forever. I was not going to let that happen. "Shut up !" I yelled across the bed. "Let me think. " I had no idea what I was doing. I tried to remember what it was like in those last moments, when they'd told me he was dying, when I'd closed my eyes like this and taken his hand. So I did that. I grabbed his hand, which was warm, but not as warm as it should have been. It was Stephen's hand, the one I had felt on my face last night, on the space under my shirt, along my belly where my scar was. When we had kissed. My eyes were closed then too. No muscle movement. His hand was an inanimate object. I squeezed harder. I tightened my eyes until starbursts appeared behind them. Stephen. Where are you? Where are you? Where are you? He had sighed into my mouth when we kissed. Where are you where are you where are you . . . There was no answer, no clear echo in my head, no hand gripping mine. I went harder, pushing into my own mind, recalling the very moments before, when it had all happened and his life support had been turned off. There was the whiteness, the rushing feeling, a pushing and a pulling, and a feeling of falling-- Suddenly, in my mind, I was back in Louisiana, standing in my uncle Bick's bird shop, A Bird in Hand. I was imagining this, of course, but my mind had landed there quite naturally. Uncle Bick was behind the counter in his Tulane baseball cap, sorting a bunch of bird toys. I could smell birdseed. The birds were allowed to fly free in the shop (he had a series of three doors you came through to make sure they were safe), so there was always a chance that a bird would land on your head. Or, more likely, bird poop would land on your head. I was always a little nervous in there. It never fazed Uncle Bick. Birds almost never pooped on him. "Here's the thing," said the Uncle Bick in my head, "they actually want to be found. They're not designed for the wild." He was talking about parakeets. Uncle Bick had a passion for finding the ones that were lost or released by callous college students, who regarded them as a school-year pet. They sat in the local trees, deeply confused by their situation. My uncle Bick drove around in his truck and rescued them (and got labeled a possible predator by the university security department for lingering by dorm room windows). Except of course this wasn't about parakeets. My brain was filtering information, and this was the format it had chosen. "So how do I find him?" I asked Imaginary Uncle Bick. He pushed the box aside and adjusted his baseball cap. "Parakeets never go far," he said. "They're not used to long flights or heights. They stick close to home. They never meant to leave." "I'm honestly not sure if I should be talking to you," I said to my imaginary uncle. "I'm trying to find Stephen." "And I'm not your uncle," said my imaginary uncle. "I'm your own head, telling you what you already know." "What does that mean? I don't know anything. " "Oh," said my own brain, "you do." Someone was shaking me. I opened my eyes to find Boo next to me, pointing wildly. The lights on Stephen's machine all came on at once. The pulse monitor flashed to triple zeros and then started flicking through random digits, going up and down wildly before becoming a blur. The line that had flattened when Stephen had--well, that line was now a frantic mountain range, jagging and peaking and speeding itself into nonsense. The machine was alive. Thorpe seemed to fly across the room. He grabbed Stephen's other hand and put his fingers on the pulse point in the wrist. "I don't feel . . ." The machine began to emit a loud hum, then the lights in the ceiling dimmed to a brownish glow, then to a high, uncomfortable brightness. Then the bulb shorted out and the room went dark, including the machine. There was a yell from out in the hall. Then another. Then a chorus of panicked calls. Thorpe opened the door to reveal that the entire hall had gone dark. Things were being knocked over; nurses and doctors ran past with bags and tubes. "Rory . . ." Thorpe looked past me. I heard a tinkling sound and turned to watch the window of the room frost over--at least, it looked like frost creeping up from the bottom of the pane. What it was actually, we realized a moment later, was a spidery, spreading fracture. It climbed and climbed, and when it hit the top of the frame, the window whited out and burst in a cloud of glass dust, some of it blowing back in on the cold December wind. The power flooded back on. The machine flashed and went quiet. The yelling continued in the hall. "I don't know if that is the backup generator," Thorpe said. "I don't know anything at this point except that you are leaving this building. Now." He didn't grab me, exactly, but he approached me with intent. He would move me if he had to. "I'll look for Stephen," Boo said. "I'll meet you. Go." I gave Stephen one final look before leaving the room with Thorpe. His dark hair stood out against the pale blue hospital pillow and the white and blue gown they'd dressed him in. His mouth had eased into a soft smile, and his face lost some of its angular sharpness. I reminded myself that this look wouldn't be my last. This was a temporary good-bye, that was all. In the hall, there was a residual air of alarm, even though the power in general seemed to be back on. People were saying they'd lost coverage on their cell phones. Security waved us away from the elevators. Thorpe smoothly ushered me down the hall. None of this was real. Stephen would appear at any time. He would be there, in his uniform and looking mildly perturbed by the turn of events. I glanced into the open rooms we passed, expecting to see his tall figure in every doorway. I almost walked into the nurse. She was standing directly in the middle of the hallway, unmoved by the quickly flowing foot traffic around her. She wasn't wearing scrubs--instead, she had on a long blue dress and a white apron with a large red cross over the chest. On her head was something that looked like a nun's veil, white, spreading to either side of her head like wings. She was older; her hair was gray, what I could see of it. Some ghosts were like an image being poorly projected at a wall. Not the nurse. She seemed to be made of light and color, the blue of her dress bleeding into the air of the hallway, the white like a halo around her head, the cross throbbing on her chest. I skidded to a halt, making Thorpe stumble a bit. He tried to move me on, but when I froze, he followed my lead. It must have been very confusing to him. He couldn't see what I did. "You look lost," the nurse said. "The stairs are that way." She pointed in the direction we had been moving. "My friend," I said. "He . . . he was down the hall. He"--I was not ready to say the word, but this was no time to look for another way to phrase it--"died. Just a few minutes ago. But I think he's here." She folded her hands by her waist and said nothing. "Did you hear me?" I said. "My friend. His name is Stephen. He's tall, he's got dark brown hair, he's . . ." Someone stopped for a second to watch me talk to an empty space in the middle of the hall. Thorpe wheeled around a bit and ended up standing next to the nurse. Someone else bumped us and told us to move to the side. "My friend," I said again. "Did you see him?" "The stairs are this way." She indicated the direction once again. I was in no mood to deal with this ghost. Not now. I put my hand in front of her face. "Listen to me. This . . ." I pointed to the ceiling to indicate the general chaos. "I did this. If I touch you, you go away. Now, tell me if you saw my friend. " Thorpe's brow wrinkled, but the nurse didn't change expression. She didn't so much as glance at my hand. "I am here for the dying," she said. "You don't belong here. You will go." "I'll leave when you tell me . . ." "You'll leave now," she said. " You do not belong here. " Everything about her went kind of blurry--like I was seeing her through a fuzzy lens. She was color and an expanding area of light, something terrible and strong. I backed up quickly, and Thorpe took a few steps toward me to try to follow this strange dance. I didn't know if I had anything to fear from her. I didn't know if I could destroy her, but I had no intention of doing that. This was her hospital, and she seemed to understand something about me that I didn't know. I dropped my hand and felt all will ebbing away from me. I was scared. I wanted to go home. I wanted Stephen back. It was too much to cry about, so I didn't. Thorpe, sensing the encounter had to end, scooped me under the armpits and started moving down the hall again. "I wouldn't have hurt her," I said, partially to Thorpe, maybe to her, maybe to myself. "Stop talking," he said. We walked out of the hospital, which faced Paddington station. There was a post-rush-hour crush of people still pouring out onto the streets. I got a heavy lungful of London air, which was flecked with damp crystals that felt like glass when you breathed them in. The streetlamps were on, even though it was day. We waited at the crowded intersection for the traffic light to change. "Where are we going?" I asked Thorpe. "My car is in the car park across the road." "But . . ." "Just walk," Thorpe said. There was anger in his voice. Maybe he thought this was my fault. Maybe he was right. Somehow, this madness, the crash, and the events of this morning had all started with me getting expelled. Somehow, this had happened because I couldn't manage all of this bullshit and "further maths." I'd been chased by the Ripper ghost and stabbed and turned into a terminus, but oh, no. In the end, math. Math s. That was the butterfly that caused the earthquake on the other side of the world. Thorpe's car was a sedate black Mercedes. He unlocked it and told me to get in. As I did, he got behind the wheel. He didn't put the key into the ignition. We sat there in silence and shivered in our respective seats for a few moments. I looked over at him once or twice, at his youngish face and unexpectedly pure-white hair. Thorpe had that kind of greyhound profile of someone who did marathons and actually cared about soluble fiber and stuff like that. Not in a vain way--more in the way of someone who had to be professionally fit and functional. There was something in his expression and posture that suggested huge calculations were going on inside his mind. "I need to understand what is happening," he finally said. "No details left out. You'll tell me everything. The basics, as I understand them, are as follows. About thirty-six hours ago, you left Wexford after being told you were expelled." I was pretty sure my heartbeat was audible. I considered fainting. That would at least make everything go away. "Yes," I said. "And you then proceeded to Jane Quaint's house? Your therapist? And you spent the night there." "Yes." "The next morning, there was a death near Wexford. A woman named Dawn Somner who worked as a psychic fell out of a window. The squad reported because of the proximity and because of the nature of her job. You attended this scene as well, which is when Stephen discovered you had run off. Stephen instructed you to return to Wexford, but you didn't do so." It was like something squeezed my heart. If I'd gone back like he asked . . . "Rory, answer." Thorpe had no patience for my silences. "Where did you go then?" "Back to Jane's." "For what purpose?" "She told me she could help me," I said. "She's one of us. She has the sight." "Help you how?" "She's in some kind of cult or something. A whole bunch of kids with the sight live with her, and they said they could help me. It seemed good when she first explained it. She said they were the only people who really understood and that I needed to be around people who were like me. I didn't know what else to do, so . . . I was going to go with them." "Go where?" "All they said was that it was a house in the country." It sounded ridiculous now. At the time, Jane had been so amazing. I'd been able to talk to her, to really explain everything. I couldn't tell my other therapist that I'd been stabbed by a ghost. Jane, though. She understood. She helped. She was so nice. She fed me and let me stay. And then-- "Charlotte," he said. "At some point that same morning, your classmate Charlotte was seen leaving Wexford before her scheduled Latin exam. We know she went to Jane's house on her own. How were Charlotte and Jane connected?" "Jane was Charlotte's therapist too. That's how I met Jane. Charlotte kept telling me I had to go and see her, how amazing she was. But on that last day I realized Jane was just getting us stoned." "How?" "She put something in the food. She'd always make us eat something--brownies, cookies, things like that. Then I'd get really relaxed and talk a lot." "So she was drugging you." "I'm pretty sure," I said. "I put it all together too late." "Did you see Charlotte at Jane's that day?" "No," I said. "Just her blazer. I was in the kitchen with Jane and these people Devina and Jack." "Devina and Jack?" "Devina lived there. I don't know about Jack. He showed up that morning, and he was kind of freaky. I got up to go to the bathroom and went through the front hall. I saw Charlotte's blazer on a hook. It was damp. I asked them about her, and they said she was gone. I knew . . . like, that second, that something was wrong. I ran, but Jack jumped on me in the hall. They said they had her and that I had to come with them. If I didn't do what they wanted, Charlotte would get hurt, and they'd get my parents too. They said they'd hurt people. They were threatening everyone. So I got in the car with them." Thorpe eased his expression a bit. "They coerced you into the car," he said. "Did they give any indication where they were taking you?" "All they would say was the country. They were talking about Greek myths and how they were going to defeat death, and I was going to help. Something about mysteries--Greek mysteries. Rituals. These people--they're nuts. And they have Charlotte." "How did the accident happen?" "It just did," I said. In my mind, this event was all in gray scale. "We were driving and a car pulled in front of us and we hit it. It wasn't that big of a crash. And then Stephen got out of the car with Boo and Callum behind him. Stephen threatened them and told them to let me out. Boo and Callum--one of them--smashed the window with a tire iron or something. I got out, and we left the three of them there. I think someone took their keys. Stephen had a cut on his head," I said. I pointed to the spot on the temple where I'd seen blood. "How did Stephen find you?" "He put his phone in my pocket that morning," I said. "He guessed I wouldn't go back to Wexford, so he used it to track me. And I guess he thought the only way to stop them was to crash? Why didn't he--" "He was trying to get you out of there as quickly as possible," Thorpe said. "And I assume he was trying to prevent a full police response. It was, for the most part, a controlled crash. We recovered the cars." "A controlled crash?" I asked. I think he realized how this sounded. "You went to his parents' flat in Maida Vale," he went on. "He was fine last night," I said. Stephen had been fine the night before. More than fine. There was a lot I could have said here, like that he'd been changing his shirt because there was blood on the one he was wearing. He had his shirt off, and then we were sitting next to each other on the edge of the bed, and then we were suddenly very close to each other, and then we were really close to each other. Thorpe didn't need to know about the kissing. He didn't need to know that everything changed last night. Last night, I think I knew what love was--love and a few other things. And this morning, it was all gone. I saw Boo in the side-view mirror, jogging up to us. She got into the backseat, bringing with her a cloud of fresh air and cold. "Nothing," she said. "I looked everywhere I could get into. Obviously not the whole hospital, but the rooms along the corridor. I think the power cut was just the one floor. I think? If he was there? I think he would have . . . yeah, I don't know, I don't think he's there." "Neither do I," I said. "Why not?" Thorpe asked. Because my imaginary uncle told me a story about birds in my head, Thorpe. That's why. "I don't know," I said. I could feel frustration coming off him like a smell, and I saw Boo slump in the back and put her hands over her eyes. "I have to phone Callum," she said. "I'll get him to come back. I can look again." Thorpe turned on the engine. "We're leaving?" she asked. "Rory's been missing for over twenty-four hours," he said, craning his head to back the car up. He did this with surprising speed, hooking the tail of the car around like a whip. "Combined with the fact that Charlotte also went missing, and the fact that you are both known Ripper victims--this is already getting attention." "If you send me to my parents," I said, "we will be on a plane to Louisiana in an hour, and I will never get back here again. Stephen is here now. Charlotte is missing now, and I'm the only person who really knows anything about the people who took her. I need to be here. I'm not just some runaway. " "She's right," Boo said, leaning between the two front seats. "I'm aware of this," he said. "Now, get down in the seat where you can't be seen. We're going to my flat." 2 THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE YOU MEET WHOM YOU CAN'T picture having a normal life. In your mind, they don't have a house or a bed or eat food. They don't watch television or use a pen to get a weird itch in the middle of their back. They seem to exist in some permanent state of other. Thorpe was one of these people. I mean, first of all, he was called Thorpe. That was his last name. I didn't know his first name. He worked for some secret service, probably MI5. He was young but had white hair. If he did shower or sleep, I could only assume he did so in a suit. So the fact that I was going to where Thorpe lived was strange enough. But then I turned to see that his eyes were red. Thorpe had feelings. Feelings about Stephen. I think this alone was enough to keep me in my suspended state of nonreality. Stephen couldn't be dead, because Thorpe didn't cry and he didn't live anywhere. Wrong again. Thorpe lived in some very modern apartment building on the Thames, as it happened, in the City of London area--not all that far from Wexford, and very close to Tower Bridge. The building seemed to be all windows and glass balconies, endless glass through which to see the gray sky and the river. He told me to scootch down in the seat as we pulled into the underground parking lot and to keep my face tipped down as we entered the lobby and rode up on the elevator. I opened my mouth to speak, but Thorpe cut me off. "We talk inside the flat," he said. I watched the red LED lights flick along until they hit twelve and we were ushered out by a creepily smooth automated female voice that said this was the top floor. The halls of this place had a sterile feel and smelled strongly of new carpeting. There was black-and-white framed photography on the walls, and you could tell it was the expensive kind, and not the kind they sold in places like Which Craft? where all of Bénouville bought its scrapbooking supplies and requisite framed pictures of kittens and watermelons and flowers. Thorpe's inner sanctum was chilly and perfectly neat. He was the first person I'd ever met who really seemed to live in one of those rooms you see in fancy furniture catalogs. Everything was leather or stainless steel or emotionless but dignified gray. The living room and kitchen were all one big space, separated by a kitchen bar. He motioned me to sit there, on a high chair. "When was the last time you ate?" he asked. "I don't know . . . yesterday? I'm not hungry." He opened the refrigerator and produced a prepackaged sandwich and a bottle of water, which he set in front of me. "It doesn't matter if you're hungry. You've been in an accident, and you've had a number of shocks. It's a matter of keeping your blood sugar level. Eat this." I dutifully opened the sandwich and put it in my mouth. He made me a cup of very sugary and milky instant coffee. "Now what?" Boo asked. "Triage," he said. "We have three missing people, but not in the traditional sense. Rory is missing, but obviously we know where she is. Stephen is missing, but his case is . . . complicated. Charlotte, however, is missing in the most immediate and obvious sense. Charlotte is actively in danger and needs to be found. The Met is in charge of that, but there are problems. As far as the police know, Charlotte left Wexford of her own accord, which is true. The next piece of evidence is that you, Rory, found her school blazer, damp, in the hall of Jane's house that same morning. And then Jane told you that she had taken Charlotte away to the country. None of your statements can go into the report. Many aspects of this entire affair connect directly to the existence of the squad, which is covered by the Official Secrets Act. So that lead cannot be reported--at least, not as it really happened. I've already put in a call to one of my contacts and had him pose as a witness and say he saw Charlotte going into the house. It's the best I could do, and at least it points the investigation in the right direction. Right now, Rory's disappearance and Charlotte's are being conflated into one event, which will disrupt and confuse the search. So, the first thing we are going to do is remove you from that search." "How?" I asked. "You are going to call your parents. You'll tell them that you are fine, that you left school of your own accord. At the very least, the search will then focus on one missing girl, not two. If they ask about Charlotte, be truthful and say you don't know where she is. The conversation will be short." I wasn't ready for this particular instruction. "I can't." "Then I turn you in, right now. You'll be with your parents within the hour." Thorpe walked around the bar and into the living room space, to a desk by a window. He opened a box on one of the top shelves and produced a cell phone, which he placed in my hand. "This will trace back to a public telephone," he said. "When they ask where you are, and they will, you say you're somewhere safe. Then you tell them you'll be in touch, that they shouldn't worry, whatever you like, and then you hang up. Keep it brief." I turned to Boo, as if she could help me with this, but she looked down and traced one of her long green nails along the granite. "The number . . . I can't remember." "I have the number." He took out his own phone and flicked through a few screens, then dialed the phone for me, handing it back. All I had to do was hit Call. "I realize this has not been a good day," he said. "This isn't easy. You still need to do it if you intend to remain and find Stephen, and if you want to help Charlotte get to safety. This is not about your feelings. This is about what needs to happen." I guess I pressed Call? It was like I twitched and the phone was ringing, and my father answered just as the first ring had gone. So fast. Everything happened so fast. "Hello? Who is this?" His accent, like mine, was thick and warm and Southern. "Hello?" he said again. "It's me, Dad," I said. My voice was nothing--a broken little noise, born of nowhere. A pause. "Rory? Rory ? Is that you? Rory?" I didn't want to hear him say my name so many times. I thought about Stephen on the bed, eyes closed. The lights bursting and windows breaking. "Yes," I said. "Where are you? Are you okay?" I heard his voice wavering and my mom in the background saying, "Is it her? Is it her?" "I'm fine," I said. Now there was some strength in my voice, but I was openly crying and turned to the wall, away from Boo and Thorpe. My dad was crying, and my mom had the phone, and I kept saying I was fine. They asked again where I was, and I said something about being safe. They just wanted to know where--where? Where? They would be wherever it was now. They'd come. Where where where . . . I said I was safe. I said I didn't know where Charlotte was. I said I wasn't with her. I said to tell the police that. I said I needed time. I tried to tell them I loved them, but that was too hard. I hung up in the middle of them saying where, where, where . . . I set the phone back on the granite bar and grabbed a paper towel to dry my face. I took a long sip of the water bottle and crinkled it in my grip. The silence that settled on all of us after that noise was one of the most deeply unsettling that I'd ever felt. "There are some things we need to do," Thorpe said. "An attempt was made to kidnap you, and you generally need to stay under the radar for a bit. Your parents won't immediately stop looking. Basic precautions need to be taken." He went over to his bookcase and pulled down a heavy German-to-English dictionary. Under the cover was a stack of twenty- and fifty-pound notes. He counted off a few of these and handed them to Boo. "There's a Boots two streets north of here. We need hair dye. Not green." Boo always had a different color in her hair. Red or pink streaks, purple edges. At the moment, the bottom third of her bobbed hair was green. "Something more natural," he said. "A contrast. Rory has dark hair. We'll need to change it. There's a Marks and Spencer across the road from the Boots. Get Rory a full set of clothes--trousers, a jumper, some shoes and socks. Don't go for fashionable. As basic as possible. Whatever's in the front window. Make the shoes practical--a pair of trainers is best. She'll need a coat as well, and hat, gloves, and scarf. Black, if possible, or any solid color. Nothing with a distinctive pattern or decoration." As Boo left, Thorpe went to the kitchen and got out some scissors and a trash bag. "Your hair," he said. "You need to cut it. Take everything you wore when you arrived here and put it in this bag. All the clothes. Shoes. The lot. There's a dressing gown on the back of the toilet door you can put on until Boo brings your new clothes. The toilet is the first door on the left." Excerpted from The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.