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Book Review: A Madness of Angels: Or The Resurrection of Matthew Swift by Kate Griffin

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As I read A Madness of Angels: Or The Resurrection of Matthew Swift I thought about what I would want to say about it. I kept a pad of paper and a pen handy, jotting down key words, page numbers, and phrases. But as I continued to read I forgot my pen and paper, forgot that I was going to have to sit down at a computer eventually and work up a review. Instead I got lost in a world so deftly created that I forgot about everything else.  I was completely taken in by the sorcerer Matthew Swift and his adventures.

    We be light, we be life, we fire!
    We sing electric flames, we rumble underground wind, we dance heaven!
    Come be we and be free! We be blue electric angels.
    Anonymous spam mail, source unknown, from A Madness of Angels

Two years ago, on the bank of the river Thames, Matthew Swift died a very bloody death at the hands of a shadow.  But now he’s back, home to the London he loved, only to find that while some things remain the same others have changed. Almost everyone he thought he could count on for support is dead. His death, the death of a sorcerer of the city, was the first of many in the magical community of London. Lording its power of the weak and collecting magicians right and left is a mysterious organization called The Tower, headed up by one of the few people who have survived from Matthew’s past.   

Matthew Swift is less concerned with The Tower than he is with whoever first killed him and then brought him back.  The one problem, besides being killed in the first place, is that Matthew hasn’t come back alone. The Blue Electric Angels came with him. Now Matthew Swift is them and they are he, a strange mix of I’s and we’s. When he discovers that The Tower and the person that resurrected him are connected he begins to plot his revenge. 

The journey of Matthew Swift and the Angels toward their end is wonderful to read, a strange heady mix of magic and the streets of London. Action, adventure, and startling discoveries wait around each corner that Swift turns. Litter Bugs, mystical nurses, spray paint super heroes that pull free of the walls, and everything in between come alive in the pages.  

The idea that life is magic, that every little action you perform in living your life is magical is a theme that is woven through A Madness of Angels. If life is magic then Griffin’s words are a part of it. The blended voice of Swift and the Angels are never confusing, never thick or heavy to read. Pages swirl by in an impression of people and places so like our own and yet so different, they blended into a mix that captured me and kept me reading late into the night. For me this book was perfect. Not nearly, or just close, but wonderfully and simply perfect.  

Kate Griffin is the pseudonym for Catherine Webb, an author already acclaimed for her young adult novels. I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone, least of all this talented author, would choose to put distance between her adult and young adult novels. If I was her I would be standing on the rooftops and screaming “Yes, it’s all mine.” And even though I have yet to read anything else written by her I can promise you, based just on the strength of A Madness of Angels, that she’s incredible, fantastic. Basically just insert any word of your choice at the end of the sentence (as long as it’s positive) and she’s that.  

Reading A Madness of Angels: Or The Resurrection of Matthew Swift is like becoming a part of the world you know is just beyond your outstretched hand.

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About Katie T. Buglet