There are few authors that I well and truly fangirl over, but Kate Griffin is one of them.
At first, this was largely to do with the fact that she was writing urban fantasy set in London – in a market place flooded with American Urban Fantasy, this was something of a novelty. She wasn’t the first, or the only, but she was one of the first I came across. I love Urban Fantasy, and I love American Urban Fantasy, but I do have a slightly patriotic side that loves to indulge in all things British. And Griffin’s work is so steeped in Britishness, it was the perfect indulgence.
But then the premise really got under my skin and made me love the characters and the world as much as the general idea. Griffin’s central character is Matthew Swift, a hapless sort of bloke who was dead and now finds that he isn’t. And he isn’t alone, either. He’s been reincarnated with the Blue Electric Angels living inside him. Which gives him something of an identity crisis, where he alternately refers to himself as I and We.
It sounds odd, and not easy to follow, but Griffin uses this central conceit so gracefully. Matthew is more powerful because of his new ‘We’ status, but he’s still a man, still fallible, still ‘I’. It’s a cunning way of having a superpowered individual have flaws and weaknesses.
One of my favourite things about the character, though, is he’s absolutely useless. I love useless characters, I have a real soft spot for them. Anyone who takes a look at a challenge and says, “Um, well, can’t it be someone else’s problem, thanks but no thanks, I’m going now.” is on a fast track straight to my heart. Especially when they say all that then just go ahead and get on with it because they know there isn’t anyone else.
But what I love most of all about the series is the way Griffin uses magic. The idea that every day things create magic – like the things whispered into telephones after the other person has hung up, or words graffitied on the walls of London. Monsters made of the sludge that ends up in the sewers, Gorgons with hair made of wires and cameras – magic evolves with the times and presents in new and unusual ways. I adore this idea and could read about the world Kate Griffin has created over and over again.