Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

A Madness of Angels
Kate Griffin

When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford – Samuel Johnson
In fact, Dr Johnson was only half right. There is in London much more than life – there is power. It ebbs and flows with the rhythms of the city, makes runes from the alignments of ancient streets and hums with the rattle of trains and buses; it waxes and wanes with the patterns of the business day. It is a new kind of magic: urban magic.
Enter a London where magicians ride the Last Train, implore favours of The Beggar King and interpret the insane wisdom of The Bag Lady. Enter a London where beings of power soar with the pigeons and scrabble with the rats, and seek insight in the half-whispered madness of the blue electric angels.
Enter the London of Matthew Swift, where rival sorcerers, hidden in plain sight, do battle for the very soul of the city.

Orbit Books


Rosy's scrawlings on A Madness of Angels
First off, and this is no give away at all, this book is basically of a man searching for his own killer. Matthew Swift is not a zombie though, he's a sorcerer who's come back to life 2 years after his own death as though nothing had happened. Well, he's a little foggy on the details of course. Not long after his return he finds that while he's been away many of his friends have also died and so his own murder case extends to encompass theirs.
In a word, this book is addictive. And so are the ones that follow, for those interested in reading a series. Thankfully the book is long and chunky, with lots of detail and full bodied descriptions. I'm not sure if it is this that makes it addictive or not, although I did find that such heavy description allowed me to savour the story more, or if it was the action, the strange array of characters and the almost (not quite but almost) noir feel to the London of this book.
London is dark and a forbidding with its monsters and strange beings. There is a grittiness to the scenery and the perspectives of every character. And yet, unlike noir, there is a real sense of life and activity in this version of London. This is brought about by the playfulness of the writer's imagination and the fast pace of the action. Shadows and lighting play a big part in this London city, mentioned as the description of lighting serves to give London a texture, history and character that could rival the real London.
Matthew Swift is also a character understandable and appreciable by both men and women readers. The reason I feel the need to say this is that there is a vast number of male and female characters out there than are just confusing to the opposite sex or intolerable to the same, purely for a lack of understanding or conveying a realistic male of female character. Matthew Swift isn't a perfect buff man with a go get-um attitude that makes him the idol of everyone he encounters bar his enemy. Nor is he written without internal thoughts and feelings that reveal a depth of character beyond his ambitions. Nope, he's someone you could run into on the street, although he does have magic powers and is on a bit of a mission. The point of this is that both men and women should be able to approach this character without issue and enjoy his story.
There is one warning I will give when it comes to this book. Don't read it when you are super busy. It will make you stop everything and lose sleep. And if you happen to buy all the Matthew Swift books then set aside roughly a week to read them at your leisure (this is a guess - it may take more time or it may take less. That's up to you and your schedule).

I'd recommend this book to: lovers of urban fantasy, particularly London based urban fantasy (almost a sub genre of its own). This should appeal to male and female readers alike but especially those who like more substantial fantasy and urban fantasy works.

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