Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: A Madness of Angels

A Madness of Angels
A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an excellent take on the urban fantasy genre. While it clocked in at over 600 paperback pages, I hardly noticed how many pages I was flipping. There wasn't so much as a wasted word in the text.

Madness of Angels used a lot of familiar concepts and settings, but took a twist that I haven't seen in other books. The use of London as a setting was superb, and, though I've never seen it for myself, I had a pretty good picture of Swift's London in my mind as I read. The magic system and the melding of technology and magic felt seamless and real. I didn't feel like I was plunging into a fictional universe in this book; I felt like I was stepping off a plane and getting a tour of someplace that could really exist.

The book is about Matthew Swift, who wakes up two years after he died, and wants revenge, and to find out who brought him back. To that end, he goes up against his mentor, Robert James Bakker, and the Tower, a society formed of magic users allied to Bakker. He also has to face what killed him in the first place, and we learn how it is he's alive and why his body was never found. We're also introduced to a number of magical elements, creatures, concepts, and organizations, without their introduction ever involving info-dumps or expository dialogue. All of the reveals felt natural and well-paced.

There were some features of the book that made it hard to follow, at times. Matthew refers to himself as "we" in a way that seems random and haphazard, until you're finally clued into what's going on. There are no chapter breaks in the text; instead, the book pulls you along, with small breaks between scenes, or different sections that cover 100 - 150 pages apiece. I considered those stylistic, rather than something to criticize, but some readers may be turned off by these features.

My biggest complaint was that, when I met Dana Mikeda, the book was mostly done, and I really liked her. I wanted to see more of her. I see, story-wise, why she didn't have a more prominent place in the text, but I wish Griffin could've made that work.

I will definitely be reading Midnight Mayor, the next book in this series, to see what other trouble Matthew Swift can get himself into. I enjoyed following him around all book, and would like to continue to do so.

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