If a book is able to leave you feeling at once saddened and emotionally drained as well as leaving you wanting, no, needing more, than in the end the author has obviously done something right.
With her third book featuring Matthew Swift as our fearful hero, The Neon Court, Kate Griffin has once again shown just how capable she is of wringing out your emotions while keeping you pinned to your chair, scurrying through each page in the vain hope that things will all work out in the end.
They don’t, not really, and the fact that I want more probably says a lot about Griffin’s ability as a writer to not give me what I want and still leave me wanting more.
SFX are quoted on the front of the book as saying that Griffin is writing “Neverwhere for the digital age,” but honestly, that doesn’t quite do it justice. That’s just a way to say that Griffin has similar skills to Neil Gaiman, when in reality, Griffin has taken it so much farther than Gaiman has ever done. Deathray say it better, on the back cover of the book, when they say Kate Griffin has made “a breath-taking entrance […] onto the stage of fantastical fiction,” and she has only gone from strength to strength as she keeps writing.
I don’t live in London. I think I’ll be lucky to ever visit London. The closest I’ve ever come is trundling around Google Earth’s Streetview. That was before I started reading Griffin’s books though, because when I’m reading the world she is describing, I feel as if I’ve known London all my life. She has such a grasp of the city that when coupled with her impressive writing abilities, leaves you spellbound as you walk around London with Matthew Swift. You can feel the grit and the dirt behind the shiny surfaces and the pretences.
There is nothing wrong with this book. Not that I can see anyway.
I tried to explain the world that Griffin has created to someone yesterday, and I found myself relating the magic of Griffin’s modern-day London to the stereotypical magic we’re used to in much of fantasy fiction.
Why? When it seems so apparently different?
Because in the end, magicians of both stripes are drawing their power from the same source: everything around them. It just so happens that instead of living in forests and dealing with centaurs and elves, the characters in Griffin’s books are living in a world of lights, exhaust, electricity and people.
You could probably read The Neon Court without reading the previous two books in her series; A Madness of Angels and The Midnight Mayor, but in all reality, I’ve no idea why you’d want to. Not because without reading them you don’t understand what is happening The Neon Court. You do. But rather because you’d be missing out on some of the most impressive writing and storytelling and creative brilliance that has come out of the written word in the past couple of decades. Griffin really does stand up there with names like Neil Gaiman and Neal Stephenson, but adds to the mixture a palpable love for London that leaves you loving London as well; whether or not you’ve ever visited there.
Review by Joshua S Hill
9.6/10 from 1 reviews
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