Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"A Madness of Angels" by Kate Griffin

(cover image from

I've been reading a lot of urban fantasy lately - Ben Aaronovitch, Benedict Jacka, Jim Butcher, among others. But A Madness of Angels (2009) by Kate Griffin (the pen name of Catherine Webb, who writes young adult fantasies under her real name) still managed to be quite unique.

Partly, that's due to the lush, descriptive language of the book. 450 pages long, this is a lot more detailed than most of the urban fantasies I've read. There's a good reason for that - it actually fits with the story - and the book kept my interest very well. What can I say? It works.

I wasn't too surprised. I picked up this book because of a review by a friend of mine, Tony Williams. An author himself - and a good one - he almost always favors shorter books, quicker reads. So when he liked it, despite its length, I had to take notice.

But the plot is different enough, too, from the usual. (One of my pet peeves with fantasy is the widespread lack of imagination among fantasy authors.) Two years after his murder - by magic - sorcerer Matthew Swift has returned to life. But he's not alone in his body.

"Life is magic." The idea here is that life itself creates magic, just by living. Swift is an urban sorcerer, someone who can get so caught up in the rhythms of the city that he risks getting lost in it. Yes, this is another fantasy set in London, and by another author who seems to love the city.

Who killed Matthew Swift, and who killed so many others in the two years he's been dead? And who brought him back? In a sense, this isn't just a fantasy, but a mystery, too.

I loved it, and since it's the first of a series, I've already ordered the sequel. I must admit to being skeptical that the sequels can be as good as this book - the whole idea won't be new anymore - but I'm anxious to find out.

Thanks, Tony, for the recommendation!

Note: My other book reviews are here.

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