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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
A Madness Of Angels (Matthew Swift Novels)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 October 2017
I found this incredibly hard to get into. It's the type of book that really needs someone to sit down, plunge in and devour. Normally a book like this would tick all the boxes for me and that's exactly what I'd do. Having been convalescing while reading this I kept falling asleep however. it wasn't the fault of the book at all, but it did mean it took me much longer to get into the way it was written. It's not an easy read until you start to piece everything together. Once I'd done that I really started to enjoy it, and I know I will definitely read the other three books in the series, although I will wait until I have a longer attention span. If you love urban fantasy, and particularly books about London, like Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, this will definitely be up your street. It's original, complex and ultimately very satisfying to read.
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on 14 July 2017
Fantastic !!
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on 31 July 2017
Tool some getting into this book, but once I had, I found it enjoyable.
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on 27 April 2017
Great read. Funny, serious and very very sexy.
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on 11 May 2015
Patience is required for this. Another reviewer stated - correctly - that it is confusing in the beginning. She went on to say that this was quite deliberate because our character is in a confused state. Several pages into the book, I still had no idea who this character was, why the character sometimes referred to "I", others "we", nor was there any indication that a revelation was imminent. I figured I'd probably be halfway through the book by the time the author revealed the storyline so I'm moving onto my next book. Failed to hold my interest through the rambling start, I'm afraid.
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on 7 July 2013
a good read the characters came to live as you read on well worth reading .recommend you try this book
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on 6 March 2017
I read Kate Griffin's Kitty Peck stories before I came across this novel, and I was initially reluctant to buy it and then to read it as I thought it sounded a bit dull. However, unlike some other reviews on here, I thought that the way she drops the reader into the middle of the story was a stroke of genius - I didn't find it confusing, or certainly not confusing enough to be anything other than intriguing. I also think it does share some qualities with Neil Gaiman's writing, particularly in the clear love and fascination Griffin has for London. I thought the move from 'I' to 'we' was done superlatively well, particularly after the first few pages, and the book - though following the tried-and-tested plot arc of a quest, wherein allies are gathered, enemies are made, setbacks encountered and victories achieved - is often highly imaginative and often beautifully written. Occasional over-writing in some of the descriptions, though I've read MUCH worse, and a generally breathless pace that keeps you reading, interspersed with moments of wry humour, result in an entertaining read. The character of Swift himself is gradually revealed, and though there are some rather stereotypical characters, they are all done well. Skillful writing, confident plotting, pacy and tense and highly readable. I ended up enjoying this more than the Kitty Peck novels.
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on 21 January 2016
Received the wrong cover style but an amazing book
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on 10 November 2010
Are you an urban fantasy fan a bit fed up with the slew of vampire/were characters cramming the genre, these days? Pining for a tale with an interestingly complex protagonist who takes you right into the heart of the story? Longing for a writer who can depict a city with such vividness that you can taste the traffic fumes, smell the rubbish and touch the pigeons? Wishing that someone would take the time and trouble to construct an unusual, interesting magical world that didn't take place in some rural outback with plodding horses and flea-ridden inns? Then this is the book for you.
Griffin grabs you from the first page and doesn't let go until the last with her taut, poetic prose and action-packed story. Matthew Swift's thirst for revenge against the terrible being preying on urban sorcerers leads him into dark places - and we are yanked along with him. There are one or two really bloody moments. Not to mention some scenes that score high on the `yuck' factor - an attack by a litter monster being one of them. However, this book is so much more than a guts'n gore fest. Griffin's ability to weave her action amongst the densely depicted London scenes that she clearly knows extremely well, gives the story an almost literary feel. And Swift is an amazing creation. Only half human, his instability while teetering on the edge of something terrible creates plenty of dynamic as he tries to pick up the pieces of his old life. And - yes - Griffin manages to conclude the story with a satisfactorily climatic ending, leaving enough interest dangling for another adventure.
If I have a quibble - and it is a minor one - I did find myself skimming some of the descriptions of the London landscape to find out what happened next. But it was only an occasional flip of the page, mostly the scene setting held me.
For those of you interested in such things, Kate Griffin is actually Catherine Webb, who has written a number of acclaimed books starting with Mirror Dreams in 2002 for the YA market.
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on 16 June 2010
You have to feel a little sorry for Kate Griffin in writing A Madness of Angels. In 1996 Neil Gaiman wrote Neverwhere, a book about the world of London Below, that portrayed the picture of a city where restless magic crept into every brick. Here Griffin explores similar themes - London is a city in which sorcerers can tap into the power of the transport systems, the electricity, the very movement of people around the city. What is especially wonderful is that only a few pages into Kate Griffin's A Madness of Angels you will have forgotten every resemblance to Neverwhere and started enjoying the book in its own right.

People who wish to write books are urged to avoid purple prose: passages, or indeed a whole book, written in extravagant and overly ornate prose - to the point where the reader is jarred out of the story. Kate Griffin never got the memo - and yet, A Madness of Angels works because of this rather than despite it. The lyrical and beautiful language takes an effort to read, but I found myself luxuriating in every sentence and my effort was paid back in full. It was partly paid back in some truly lovely imagery, such as the following:

"...just so I could experience the different magics of those places. In New York the air is so full of static you almost spark when you move; in Madrid the shadows are waiting at every corner to whisper their histories in your ear when you walk at night. In Berlin the power is clean, silken, like walking through an invisible, body-temperature waterfall in a dark cave; in Beijing the sense of it was a prickling heat on the skin, like the wind had been broken down into a thousand pieces, and each part carried some warmth from another place, and brushed against your skin, like a furry cat calling for your attention."

I was also repaid in spades by the sheer imagination Griffin displays as we explore this world of London in the company of Matthew Swift, the deceased, and the blue electric angels - whimsical, youthful spirits with an anthem to stir the soul:

"We be light, we be life, we be fire! We sing electric flame, we rumble underground wind, we dance heaven! Come be we and be free! We be blue electric angels"

So we have stunning writing, and a crazy amount of spectacular ideas: these still would be nothing if the underlying story were not as gripping and tense as it turns out to be. Matthew Swift has been pulled out of death and is hunting to find out who wanted him returned to life. Alongside this, he is entangled in a plot to bring down the Tower, headed up by his former master. Add in the Hunger, a distinctly chilling entity that spins itself from shadows when least expected, and you have a book with pace and danger.

I have few complaints about this book (in fact, it is easily one of my top reads of 2010 so far), but I will make one observation. Part of the joy in immersing myself in this book came from seeing London through eyes opened to the magic in the city - I question whether anyone not personally familiar with London would find the same entrancing qualities in the descriptions of the Underground, or the tiny alleyways that seem to go nowhere, or the mish-mash of huge mansions next to council estates. I don't feel the story would lose anything for anyone not directly experienced with the 'feel' of London, but I do think my reading of A Madness of Angels was enhanced by having been there on many occasions.

I also accept that there will be people who struggle to really get on board with the style of writing, especially within the first thirty-odd pages where the reader feels almost as confused as Swift does. Griffin does not baby her readers through the story - she plunges straight into Swift's re-emergence into London life without pausing to explain who he is and how he came to be there. Personally I prefer being passed details through the telling of the story rather than the writer artificially dumping in back history, so this did not deter my enjoyment at all.

It is not a perfect book, but it is a damn fine piece of story-telling and leaves me keen to visit the world of Matthew Swift once again. Recommended for those with the patience to give this book time to come alive.
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