Friday, 12 March 2010

The Midnight Mayor by Kate Griffin

The magical wards of London are being systematically destroyed — the ravens at the Tower of London are dead, the London Wall is defiled. Before the very fabric of London is sucked into chaos, Matthew Swift must solve the riddle of where Mo has gone, and who is scrawling the slogan ‘Give Me Back My Hat’ across the walls of his city. In The Midnight Mayor, Kate Griffin takes the reader on a scorching tour around the city of London, introducing the Midnight Mayor and the extremely creepy Mr Pinner, Death of Cities.

If you liked A Madness of Angels, you’ll enjoy The Midnight Mayor. Kate Griffin employs the same writing style, imbues the pages with the character of London, and builds on many of the concepts introduced in her first novel about Matthew Swift.

I did like A Madness of Angels — very much. I loved the dense writing, the beautiful descriptions, and the way that Griffin was able to turn the mundane into the magical. I thoroughly enjoyed the mystical characters and reveled in the mystery of the blue electric angels.

The Midnight Mayor
was very similar, and that comprises one of my complaints about it. There were so many echoes of the first novel that it felt as though I was still reading A Madness of Angels. Once more, the novel opens with Matthew Swift in a state of confusion. He then tackles a creature from the depths of nightmare. In the first book this was the litter-bug; in The Midnight Mayor he comes up against spectres that can be slowed down by the recitation of ASBOs. Then, as last time, we spend the majority of the story travelling around London and trying to use the rules of the Underground to prevent the villain from capturing Swift and Oda. Again, the finale is a breathless adventure tackling the dark soul that has been terrorising Swift — in A Madness of Angels it is Hunger, and here it is the Death of Cities. I loved the first book, so it was no hardship to follow more adventures of Swift, but I would have liked to see more departure from the formula.

One way in which The Midnight Mayor departed in a grand fashion from A Madness of Angels was in the development of Matthew Swift’s character. In this novel he truly came alive, stepping to the fore and taking charge in a way that he failed to do last time. This character development was handled deftly by Griffin, to the extent that it was only really at the end of the novel that you realised how far Swift had come from his first confused moments. I also want to mention the scene where Swift and the blue electric angels found their wings — this was a real ‘punch the air’ moment and it left me truly agape.

I also appreciated the little flashes of dark deadpan humour that Griffin has added to Matthew Swift’s character. This added pathos and allows the reader to identify more easily with him:

“...It’s like quests. You get told ‘go forth and seek the travelcard of destiny’ and you know, I mean, you seriously know that it won’t have just been left down the back of the sofa. You read — seen — Lord of the Rings?”

“Ever wondered why they didn’t just get the damn eagles to go drop the One Ring into the volcano, since they seemed so damn nifty at getting into Mordor anyway?”

Griffin also successfully fleshes out some existing secondary characters — such as Oda — and brings in some intriguing new characters — here the Aldermen were a highlight. This all helped to give The Midnight Mayor warmth that was missing in A Madness of Angels.

Altogether, The Midnight Mayor is another triumph of imagination and whimsical storytelling from Kate Griffin. I thoroughly enjoyed working my way through the stunning prose. The effort it takes to immerse yourself in the world of Matthew Swift is definitely repaid in full.

[Also posted to Fanlit - click for quality reviews and interviews with your favourite fantasy authors!]

1 comment:

  1. Nice, I loved the first book and now I really can't wait for this one to arrive to this side of the planet.