Book Review: A Madness of Angels

|+|Triggers: Graphic violence, gore, unreliable narrator, unreality|+|

“You’re not dead, I’m not dead, they haven’t killed us, we haven’t killed them, it’s fine.” -Matthew Swift (A Madness of Angels)


Author: Kate Griffin

Genre: Urban Fantasy (adult fiction)

Summary: 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.

My Opinion: Ho. Ly. Crap. This is one of the most complex and interesting books dealing with modern magic that I have ever read. I’ve read a fair amount of urban magic stories but nothing has come close to the intensity, the style, the scope, and the believability that this does. I’ve never read something as complex and challenging as this, and I loved every moment of it. This book hits all the right marks for me. Strong plot, strong characters, and a fair amount of diversity. Best of all this is the first in a series. Five stars hands down.

I’m extremely tempted to just go into all caps about how much I love Matthew Swift even though he’s an unreliable narrator for most of the book and can kind of be a jerk. But he’s such a well rounded jerk that really does care about people, and has some very complex struggles. Aside from the whole his body being his body but not his body, him being resurrected and stalked by a shadowy figure ones. He’s shown throughout really caring about others, thinking on his feet while being an all around smart-alack, and being driven not just by revenge, but eventually by wanting to do what’s right.

The villain is…ok well there’s a lot of them actually. But one of main ones (Bakker) not only causes a lot of internal confusion for Matthew but for the reader as well. And it is lovely. It is glorious, and there has been only one other time where I have read a villain that made me have such mixed feelings. Matthew’s relationship with him is really heart wrenching. No, I’m still not over it, pass me those tissues would you?

THEN THERE ARE THE SIDE CHARACTERS THAT ARE 100% FABULOUS. So fabulous I didn’t know what to do with myself. In fact, I still don’t know what to do with myself. Mad props to Griffin for so thoroughly fleshing out even the most minor of characters and giving them such important roles.  Oda (dang girl, please stay awesome forever), Vera, and Blackjack are some pretty big players yet they’re not main characters. Despite not showing up a lot we wind up knowing a lot about them while still leaving plenty to explore.  No matter how minor, each character holds importance in the book, even if we see them only once or twice. They either are a part of the working magic of the world or they are going to come back and do something spiffy (or horrifying, or both).

The world building in this, as I’ve said, is above and beyond any I’ve seen before. The Abarat series (Clive Barker) might be equal but they’re in such different genres it’s hard to compare. The magic in the Swift series is incredibly believable. It’s so well thought out, and yet so practical and entwined with the world that it honestly makes you look at life differently. And it’s always a treat when a book can make you look at things differently, even if it’s for a short time. I think that’s the biggest selling point in the book. The passion Matthew has for magic, and how practical and interesting that magic is, makes the book flow and become rather addicting. Thank heavens this is the first in a four book series because I am totally addicted to Matthew and his world.

TL;DR: Do you like urban magic? Can you keep up with incredibly twisty plots and an unreliable narrator? If yes to those (especially number two, even for someone familiar with the genre like I am, this book thoroughly challenges you as a reader) then you should read this book. It’s one of the most well thought out books I have ever read, one of my favorites of 2015, and frankly I can’t recommend it highly enough. Read it now, thank me later.


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