Sunday Review: A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

So, I’ve decided on Sundays to do a review of a book that showcases something aspiring writers could really learn from. They may not be the greatest books ever written, but may do one aspect of writing – be it dialogue, world building or some other element – particularly well.

For this weeks Sunday Review, I’ve chosen my favourite book of recent years: A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin.

Title: A Madness of Angels

Author: Kate Griffin

Series: Matthew Swift #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Orbit

Summary (from Goodreads)

Two years after his untimely death, Matthew Swift finds himself breathing once again, lying in bed in his London home.

Except that it’s no longer his bed, or his home. And the last time this sorcerer was seen alive, an unknown assailant had gouged a hole so deep in his chest that his death was irrefutable…despite his body never being found.

He doesn’t have long to mull over his resurrection though, or the changes that have been wrought upon him. His only concern now is vengeance. Vengeance upon his monstrous killer and vengeance upon the one who brought him back.

What’s Good About It

It’s an absolutely fantastic premise, executed with style and flair, the character Matthew Swift is compelling and interesting and intrigue bubbles from every page. But the best thing about the book is Griffin’s portrayal of London through the eyes of an Urban Sorcerer. The city is like another character in the book it’s so full of life and energy. I’m not by any means a city girl, but I would love to visit Swift’s London – it’s a fascinating place, where Oyster Cards hold powerful spells and blue electric angels are born in the telephone wires. It’s clear that Griffin sees true Urban Magic in her city – her love for it shines through the prose with an infectiousness that challenges even the most stubborn country girl not to love it too.

What’s Not So Good

It is a bit slow to get started, and as the character doesn’t know what’s going on, neither does the reader. I think I was nearly three quarters of the way through before I had any real clue what was happening. Of course, this isn’t a problem if you can trust an author to deliver in the closing chapters – and Griffin does – but I can see how the bewildering rollercoaster that A Madness of Angels is would be unsettling to some.

Why Should Writers Read It

A Madness of Angels is a must for anyone hoping to write Urban Fantasy. And by Urban Fantasy, I do not mean supernatural/normal girl meets supernatural guy and they have sex (although I do believe there is a time and a place for that breed of novel) I mean the stories that take place in the cities we know viewed from a fantastical perspective. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is also great, and I’ve heard good things about Mike Carey’s Felix Castor series, but I doubt (for me) anyone could do Urban Fantasy better than Kate Griffin.


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