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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing astray about Stray Souls...
This is set in the same world - and the same backdrop - as Griffin's highly successful Midnight Mayor series, featuring Matthew Swift as her conflicted and very powerful protagonist and is definitely one for the adults. Sammy the Elbow, the world's second best shaman, sprinkles his dialogue with language almost as foul as his smell...

This book is written in...
Published 23 months ago by sjhigbee

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Midnight Mayor lite
Not a bad book, Kate Griffin's style is always enjoyable, and living and working in London as I do it's enjoyable knowing the locations used in the novel. That said I generally prefer the darker tone in the Midnight Mayor series, it definitely feels that a conscious decision was made to make this almost a kids version of the earlier books. All the characters have an...
Published 18 months ago by Mr James Kendall


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing astray about Stray Souls..., 25 Oct 2012
By 
This is set in the same world - and the same backdrop - as Griffin's highly successful Midnight Mayor series, featuring Matthew Swift as her conflicted and very powerful protagonist and is definitely one for the adults. Sammy the Elbow, the world's second best shaman, sprinkles his dialogue with language almost as foul as his smell...

This book is written in multiple viewpoint, with no first person narrative, so we get a ringside seat to witness the struggles of Rhys, a druid forced to shelter from Nature due to his chronic hay fever; Gretel the troll, who wants to cook; Sally the banshee, who writes everything down on a whiteboard so that her magically-enhanced voice doesn't drive men mad; Kevin, the vampire who has major issues with blood - along with any other fluids that may pose a risk of infection... Even Matthew Swift, the Midnight Mayor isn't particularly effective - his specialty being to blow things up in a messy destructive manner, whereas this job requires finesse. I've enjoyed all the Midnight Mayor books and come to admire Griffin's writing talent - however my misgiving was that with such a very powerful main character, the forces ranged against him also had to be equally huge, or there was no real plot. But, the motley crew surrounding Sharon certainly don't fall into that category.
I expected an action-packed plot wound full of tension and vivid descriptions of some of the less wholesome parts of London, which I certainly got - but what was a delightful surprise were the laugh-aloud moments. And this book is full of them. Griffin's humour is pitch-perfect and a wonderful counterpoint to the full-on action and pathos. A book that leaves me with a lump in my throat while making me laugh always has a special place in my heart - it doesn't happen all that often. Matt Haig's 'The Radleys' was the last time I read one of these rare novels...

And if Griffin's descriptions leap off the page, then her dialogue is a joy - pin-sharp, funny and perceptive. With such a strong cast of interesting characters, Sharon's slightly desperate flailings to discover just exactly what she should be doing could have been completely eclipsed by the likes of Rhys and Kevin. Yet Griffin avoids that pitfall with the same deftness that she handles the issue of how to neutralise a magically potent protagonist such as Matthew Swift.

Her simmering anger at social injustice that produced the King of Rats, the tribe and the Bag Lady is still apparent in Griffin's character, Greydawn. As for the ending, it was beautifully handled - both satisfying and poignant. All in all, while Griffin's books have always been excellent, Stray Souls is outstanding and the best urban fantasy book I've read this year.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not on a par with her other books, 8 Dec 2012
By 
HC Murphy "duchess_of_the_dark" (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stray Souls (Magicals Anonymous) (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed this a lot. The lovely pop culture references, the pervasion of modernity into magic. However, the one thing that let it down was the characterisation of Sharon.She' s too similar to Penny, Matthew's apprentice. She even speaks like her.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An expansion of the magical London universe, 8 Nov 2012
By 
This was an enjoyable read. The magical London world of Matthew Swift is greatly expanded with this book and we get a new lead character, Sharon Li an untrained shaman who is about to find that she and her magical self-help group may be the only thing standing between the city soul being destroyed. Matthew Swift does appear in this book but he is only a secondary character in a cast of magical eccentrics. Time-wise this book takes place after the events in The Minority Council: A Matthew Swift novel (Matthew Swift Novels) A second book in the magicals anonymous series is listed The Glass God (Magicals Anonymous) but I do have to wonder after having read this if we'll get any more pure Matthew Swift books.

I prefer a strong central character to my novels which is one of the reasons the early Matthew Swift books appealed to me so much. I loved some of the new characters in Stray Souls but they did dilute the experience of a single narrator a bit. Having said that though I still very much looking forward to book 2 in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun & Wonderful Characters, 22 July 2014
Sharon Li is a Shaman - she just doesn't know it yet. She begins a group, Magicals Anonymous, for all those people who are a little bit out of the ordinary and finds herself trying to save the city.
This book was a little bit slow to begin with while the reader was getting to know the characters and the London in which they live. However as the book progressed I found myself getting more and more involved and was really quite sad when I finished it! The underlying plot is fairly basic - magical people/creatures need to save the city from a bad magical creature, in this case a wendigo. Yes, I had to google it too! (other search engines are available!). By keeping the basic plot quite simple the reader was able to enjoy the characters that were created without frantically trying to keep track of the twists and turns. I wonder if the next in the series will have a slightly more complex plot as we have now got to know the characters? I look forward to finding out.
The characters in this book are simply wonderful - Sammy the Goblin who also happens to be the second greatest Shaman in the world, the Midnight Mayor, Sally the art loving Banshee, Gretel the cookery loving troll, Rhys the allergic druid, Kevin the OCD vampire........a fantastic collection of characters from what can only be described as a most unusual imagination!
There is also a lot of humour in this book - well the character list gives that away for starters. I found myself chuckling out loud and received some strange looks from my family (not an altogether unusual event!).
This book was very individual but there are slight similarities with the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher, the odd hint of Terry Pratchett's work and a dash of the Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovich. If you liked any of those books then this series is definitely worth a try. In fact, whether you have read any of those books or not why not give this a try?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Midnight Mayor lite, 3 April 2013
This review is from: Stray Souls (Magicals Anonymous) (Kindle Edition)
Not a bad book, Kate Griffin's style is always enjoyable, and living and working in London as I do it's enjoyable knowing the locations used in the novel. That said I generally prefer the darker tone in the Midnight Mayor series, it definitely feels that a conscious decision was made to make this almost a kids version of the earlier books. All the characters have an 'amusing' twist, a banshee into modern art, a troll who enjoys fine dining, a hyperchondriac vampire, a Druid with allergies etc. sure it's good for the characters to have flaws but with them being that overt it was kind of like reading an episode of Scooby Doo. I half expected the villain to be unmasked while uttering the immortal phrase "I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you pesky kids".

I get that authors need to change direction from time to time to keep things interesting for themselves, but in a world where London is swarming with magic imbued figures, surely other cities, or countries have the same so why can't we see them, does the countryside also have magic? If so what happens when the city expands? Basically I feel this was an okay novel but there are far better ways Griffin could have expanded the Midnight Mayor world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank goodness I've found a new author to enjoy, 7 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Stray Souls (Magicals Anonymous) (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book. It has loads of laugh out loud moments and the descriptive writing is wonderful.
This will be a series that I shall look forward to reading with great enjoyment. If you like Pratchett you will love Griffin!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and Magical Fun, 5 Nov 2012
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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Kate Griffin has always brought something a little different to the Urban Fantasy world and when its set in London, it's something that is not only addictive but also one that gives you an adventure, yet rather than spending time with heavily powered heroes, we get something very unusual with a Shaman as a lead character. It's definitely quirky and with the Mayor (Matthew Swift) appearing within it's a book that was a lot of fun to read.

Finally throw into the mix great prose, some cracking dialogue and when added to a wonderful arc that keeps giving throughout as well as building upon the success of those that have gone before makes a cracking addition to the authors bow.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Griffin strikes again, 29 Oct 2012
By 
Ian Williams "ianw" (Sunderland, UK) - See all my reviews
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As the saying goes, you can have it fast or you can have it good. With Kate Griffin you get it fast and you get it good as she seems to be able to effortlessly knock out two excellent novels a year.

In this book, set in the same London as the Night Mayor (who makes several appearances), Griffin has stuck has struck gold with a great idea. Sharon Li who, for some reason, is afflicted with magical problems, sets up a support group called Magicals Anonymous for people (and, as she discovers, people who aren't people) with problems caused by magic. To her surprise, it's quite successful. Also to her surprise she learns that she's a shaman and the only one (with a little help from her new friends) who can deal with a magical danger that even the Night Mayor can't handle.

And that's pretty much all I'm going to tell you about the plot as I wouldn't want to spoil any of the many pleasures and surprises this book contains. I will tell you that this book contains Griffin's considerable and idiosyncratic gift for description, particularly of London. Being cynical I considered that a. she made it all up, or b. spent hours on Google at street level, or c. walked the streets of London more than anyone who wasn't homeless. After checking her blog it turns out that it's c.

But back to the point, I just want to make it clear that Griffin is a spectacularly good writer. Not a great one yet but give her five minutes and she will be. She sold her first novel at age 14, under her real name of Catherine Webb she was nominated for the Carnegie Medal in two successive years aged 19 and 20. Now she's reached the ripe old age of 26, I shudder to think how good she'll be in about another ten years. Ten years after that she'll probably be World President, if she can be bothered.

I would just like to point out that the page length of this book is deceptive and that you'll read it fair more quickly than you expected (even allowing for the fact that you'll find it difficult to put down). There are a total of 111 chapters in 438 pages giving an average chapter length of fractionally under 4 pages so there is lots of white space. One chapter just consists of 7 words (8 including the title) and all the same word (excluding the title) which I would quote except for that it might be considered unfair usage to print an entire chapter even for review purposes.

The book would also make the basis for a good TV series. A two-parter, based on the book, to introduce the characters coming together, then several more focusing on one or two of the group. That's on British TV. If the Americans buy it it'll probably be called Magicals Anonymous: Missions Very Impossible.

Anyway, get in on the ground floor so you can boast you were reading Kate Griffin before she took over the world. Plus you'll also get to read a terrific slice of British Urban Fantasy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not more of the same, 10 May 2014
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This review is from: Stray Souls (Magicals Anonymous) (Kindle Edition)
I have been ploughing through the Matthew Swift books (which makes it sound like hard work, and it ain't) and I commented that The Minority Council was fitting the formula Griffin had evolved. Stray Souls a departure, retaining characters but shifting the centre away from Swift. She has changed the chapter length (it's amazing what a difference it makes) and shifts the PoV, though sometimes unnecessarily. Action is fast and engaging but the language is less lush. There is still the tendency to dive in to a metaphor and really work it but the metaphors and language are more street. Worth reading for itself, but also as an exercise in rejuvenating a franchise.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful. Magical., 23 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Stray Souls (Magicals Anonymous) (Kindle Edition)
A fabulously ironic and tongs in cheek twist on the urban fantasy genre.

Definitely well worth 5 stars and loved it

I promise you won't be disappointed with it at all!
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