Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Madness of Angels: Or The Resurrection of Matthew Swift

Title: A Madness of Angels: Or The Resurrection of Matthew Swift
Author: Kate Griffin
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Orbit
Publishing Date: April 6th 2009
Hardcover: 544 pages

Stand Alone or series: First book of a new series

Summary: (from Goodreads)
For Matthew Swift, today is not like any other day. It is the day on which he returns to life.

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.


I decided to give this book a go after it was recommended by N. K. Jemisin in an interview. Anything described as “urban fantasy series set in modern-day London and following the exploits of a sorcerer who isn’t quite human” is bound to grab my attention. The Dresden Files are my absolute favoritest series out there and anything that has a similar vibe is definitely right up my alley.

As the summary explains this story is about the wizard Matthew Swift. Swift wakes up from being dead with a tendency to call himself 'we' and a determination to exact revenge on the person who not only caused his death, but his resurrection as well. But in the two years that Swift has been gone a lot of changes have taken place in the magical community and he’ll find revenge isn’t always as swift as one would like.

At first this book actually took a bit of effort to get me to keep picking it back up. Usually I’m the type of person who finishes books in one sitting since I can’t wait to know what happens, but this book didn’t spark my insatiable curiosity as usual. Instead the beginning felt too over written and bogged down by unnecessary details. But slowly, and a bit to my surprise, the story started to grab onto my attention and the writing I found over written became interesting. By the time I finished this story I was much more impressed then when I started it. One of my favorite things about this story is the way Swift changes back and forth from “I” and “we” seamlessly. The shift between Matthew’s perspective and that of the otherworldly Angels was great. Not only was it done in a way that wasn’t too confusing, but it also added depth to the story.

My biggest complaint about the story is that there wasn’t any real mystery going on. While an author can be guilty of keeping all of their cards close to their chest, this story could have used a little mystery. At the end I think even the totally clich├ęd plot twist would have been preferred to the utter unsurprised feeling this story left me with. I also kept comparing this book to the Dresden Files and the Nightside series throughout the story and I don’t think that ended up being a good thing. In the end, Swift felt like second best to Dresden and John Taylor (though that is still great when compared to other books that are out there).

I also thought the magic was thought out really well. I liked the idea that an area can affect the way a person does magic and that some concepts have a special power all their own. I just wish Griffin had taken it a step further.

Notable Quotes/ Parts:
I leant against the wheelie bin and half-closed my eyes, struggling to retain control. We were tired, in pain, and angry. We had not come here for this; this was not how things were meant to be, the wrong kind of living. Everything, we realised, but everything, was wrong.

I was too tired to care.

We opened our eyes. The world was bright blue in our vision; electric fire.

We stepped forward through the swirling remnants of dirt and monster. We opened our arms and let the blue fire spread between our fingers. It was so good, so easy! We thrilled in it.
“Do you wish to fight us?” we yelled towards the advancing men. “Do you think you will live so long?”

They stopped, hesitated, drew back in the middle of the road, and I could have just sat down in the filth of the street, stopped, could have, but that the fire was now burning behind my eyes. Beautiful, brilliant blue fire. “Do you not relish what life you have?” we called, letting the flames burn across our skin. “Do you not live for every breath, dance every moment to the rhythm of your own heartbeat, have you not seen the fire that burns in every sight?”
We tightened our fingers, ever so slightly, pulling them into the shape of a fist. Above us, the neon lights of the street lamps exploded, the burglar alarms on the sides of the shops popped, spraying metal, the water in the gutter bubbled, twisted, turned, like it was being sucked down into a vortex. “If all you see in life is its end,” we called, “then join us!”

It was so easy, now we were willing to try, the power felt so good, that brilliant, sacred word we hadn’t dared to whisper since I had first reopened my eyes, the magic of the streets, my streets, our magic . . .


I definitely recommend giving it a go. While I did enjoy this book I’m not sure I’ll be reading the sequel. Then again, maybe the second book will avoid some of the problems of the first since less back story is necessary. Fans of Jim Butcher, Simon Green, and Neil Gaiman should feel right at home with this story.

Rating: 7. Very good


  1. DUDE, I just got the sequel to this in the mail but I haven't read the first. Swap?

  2. I would but I got it from the library (as usual). Sorry!