BOOK REVIEW Swift and sure
London’s a city that knows its place in the history books; taking over 2,000 years of civilisation in its stride, it’s hardly surprising it’s become a favourite setting for urban fantasies: Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere , Simon Green’s Nightside books, and now Kate Griffin’s Matthew Swift stories.
Swift is a sorcerer, but that’s not all: he’s been dead and now he’s back; he’s not just a man, but has electrical angels singing in his blood. He’s also London’s Midnight Mayor: the person who looks after all the awkward, magical stuff that plagues the city. In this fourth book in the series, life hasn’t got any easier for our hero. Two plots intertwine as Swift battles a deadly new magical drug, while trying to understand the factions behind the creation of the culicidae, a flying creature of slate and glass that’s killing and de-souling antisocial children.
Griffin certainly knows her London-town, and the endless array of boroughs and street names can be baffling for readers less familiar with the capital. But once you’re swept up in the story, it doesn’t matter – she creates a firm sense of place and a very real world for the characters to live in. While the plot isn’t especially remarkable, with evil drug barons, treacherous bureaucrats and well-meaning capitalists busy paving their way to Hell, the people are complex and compelling. It’s these characters, and the interplay between them, that help the novel shine.
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