Saturday 22 March 2014

A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

Yet another recommendation from a review in Interzone, The Madness of Angels does make me wonder just how many different stories set in an occult version of contemporary London the market can cope with. Currently we have Jacka's Alex Vera novels and Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series, before that we had the stand-alone novels Un Lun Dun from China Miéville (and also Kraken by the same author – yet to be read), Paul Cornell's London Falling (also yet to be read), Christopher Fowler's Roofworld, and finally Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. I say finally, but no doubt there are others out there…

A Madness of Angels is the first in a series of four published so far, and is recounted in the first person by Matthew Smith, a journeyman sorcerer who was killed by his mentor, the powerful sorcerer Robert James Bakker, two years before. He is therefore somewhat disconcerted to find himself back in the flesh, sharing his body with a collection of strange beings known as the "blue electric angels". He discovers that in his absence Bakker has created a vast occult organisation called the Tower, which has incorporated most of the magical talent in London by the simple expedient of killing everyone who refused to join. Matthew Smith is being hunted but he has revenge in mind and has no intention of giving in, so he recruits an unlikely band of assorted allies and battle commences, with the geography of the city forming an effective background.

Author Griffin slots into the London occult canon at what might be called the "richly detailed fantasy" end of the spectrum. Her style is more similar to Aaronovitch than Jacka, but the pace is slowed somewhat, leading to the book being significantly longer. I thought of Clive Barker's work when reading this (I really must read Weaveworld again, I haven't done so since it was first published). While I generally prefer a fast pace to a long book, Griffin succeeded in keeping my attention, and I will be buying more of this series.


Bill Garthright said...

Thanks, Tony. I'll definitely have to try this one, since you've gotten me hooked on Aaronovitch and Jacka.

Unfortunately, your reviews often intrigue me, so my TBR pile just keeps growing. (Eidolon by Libby McGugan - to name just one of the books you've recently reviewed - also sounds really interesting.)

You need to read more bad books, so I'm not so tempted. :)

Anthony G Williams said...

Sorry Bill!

These days I tend not to buy books unless the reviews suggest that I'm likely to enjoy them. When I do come across one I don't like I normally stop reading before I'm halfway through, so it doesn't get a full review (although I do usually mention that).