A Madness of Angels by 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...
Urban fantasy / magic realism in London. We're dropped into a body in present day London. Eventually we come to realise that it is the body of Matthew Swift, sorcerer, deceased. Or he was, until now. Bless, he then finds out all his friends are dead, killed by the same thing that killed him – a shadow known as Hunger. Quickly found by a bunch of 'concerned citizens' he begins to track who he suspects had him killed, and the author begins to reveal just how Matthew came back – and what he is now. Come be we, come be free.
While not a totally original concept, the voice and style of this piece are beautiful – if a bit heavy to read in large chunks at a time. London is both faithfully described and an entirely new and otherwordly place, if only you know its secrets. Characters are brought to life almost effortlessly it seems, and everything seems believable within the world the author has built. And what a world it is! Warlocks in London, Bikers who can slip through gaps in time/space to get there faster, train tickets that can save you from certain death and blue electric angels crooning siren songs in the phone lines.
Unfortunately the lavish description sometimes slows the pace to a crawl. The author likes to keep things from the reader too – which seems odd as it's written in First Person. The narrator is Matthew Swift, and he doesn't tell us what he knows. Indeed, it was several pages before I knew the narrator was male, and dozens before I knew his name. And Matthew knows what he is, at least partially, but the reader is kept in the dark. Tricky to pull off in first person without annoying the reader, and only partially successful here, for me at least. Every time he revealed something I asked myself 'Couldn't you have told me earlier rather than making a big mystery about it?' It felt a little like cheating.
Still, an engaging book, stylishly written.
This A Madness of Angels book review was written by Julia Knight
All reviews for: Matthew Swift
A Madness of Angels
Matthew Swift: Book 1
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 Lo...
The Midnight Mayor
Matthew Swift: Book 2
The Neon Court
Matthew Swift: Book 3
The Minority Council
Matthew Swift: Book 4
Have you read A Madness of Angels?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
A Madness of Angels reader reviews
MJ from Canada
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very Neil Gaiman-ish. Though many criticize the author's withholding of information about Matthew, I found the mystery of it engaging and kept me from putting this book down. The writing is superb, the story flows and the story becomes quite believable. I was quite surprised to find out that Kate Griffin was only 23 when she wrote this book. Very worth the read!
8.1/10 from 2 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Powder Mage Trilogy
The alchemy of gunpowder fused with the magic of sorcery. In a time of upheaval, resurgence and corrupted Royalty Privileged, one-man’s love for his lost wife and his...
The Magicians series
In a secret world of forbidden knowledge, power comes at a terrible price... Quentin Coldwater's life is changed forever by an apparently chance encounter: when he turn...
In the first age of Andeira, men and dragons brought together the two halves of the elemental magic of the world to create a union through which their magic, and the world,...
The House of Shattered Wings
Aliette de Bodard
Paris in the aftermath of the Great Magicians War. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black, thick with ashes and...
Winter Be My Shield
Sierra has a despised and forbidden gift - she raises power from the suffering of others. Enslaved by the king's torturer, Sierra escapes, barely keeping ahead of Raste...
Mark de Jager
Stratus wakes alone, with no memory of his past. All he knows is his name and that he is not human. Possessing immense strength, powerful sorcery and an insatiable hunger, ...
The Dresden Files
Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Reasonable rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment. Harry Dresden is the best and technicall...
The Relic Guild
Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us. It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawl...
Alex Verus series
Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and the canal. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals, where tourists and moody teena...
Rivers of London series
My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Ser...
Cloak of Magic
Somewhere along the line where human nature meets human imagination, myths are created. Somewhere in that space lives the spirit that created and sustains Shehaios, the Fai...
Condemned to four thousand years of loneliness and regret, Ilfayne finds a rare thing in Hilde: a friend. For that, he will do anything to keep her safe. Just as he gathers...
Stranger of Tempest
Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; a dying breed in the Riven Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent's p...
Arrows of the Queen
Thirteen-year-old Talia longs for a better life, far away from her repressive stepmothers and the village of Sensholding, where books chronicling the adventures of the Hera...
The Wizard of Rainbows
Mark A Cropper
There is a road of darkness and awful peril, a path that shall take you to places beyond the knowledge of men. The Lord-of-Mists has awakened in his dark realm with one pur...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
- Recommended contemporary / urban fantasy books/series
- Recommended books/series featuring wizards and magicians
Best of 2016
Stranger of Tempest
Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; a dying breed in the Riven Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent's prin...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be. Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outs...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...
The Dog Stars
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's...
Beren and Luthien
Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien wil...
Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall - named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn h...
While honeymooning in the Tower of Babel, Thomas Senlin loses his wife, Marya. The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel of the Silk Age. Immense as a mountain, the ancient...
The Ninth Rain
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the real...