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 confess, I was taken in by a cover again. Not actually the cover image this time, rather the quote that emblazons the top of the page which promised me that this book ‘The Madness of Angels’ was ‘Neverwhere for the digital age.’
Now I loved Neil Gaiman’s ‘Neverwhere.’ When I say love I mean I read it at least three times in one week and I still pick it up once a month or so to read a chapter or two in the bath. I’ve never lived in London myself but I know the city fairly well since Oxford isn’t that far away, and Gaiman manages to capture an essence of the grime that London simultaneously shirks and celebrates. But I shouldn’t be writing a review of Neverwhere here. My point is that to compare a book to Neverwhere is to give it both the highest praise and the most dangerous commendation, in my opinion, because how could anything really hope to compare?
I’m pleased to say that, though it didn’t reach the lofty heights of Gaiman in my estimation, this book held up really well. Like a lot of the books I’ve been reading of late, it takes quite a while to get into the story, I blame the fact that you don’t learn the name of the character narrating the book (Matthew Swift) until quite a few pages in, that and the fact that he speaks using both singular and plural pronouns takes a bit of getting used to (later in the book this makes a lot more sense and is actually pretty clever). But once I got to a creature made out of refuse that was actually called a ‘litterbug’ I was totally on board.
The story itself is compelling, we meet a variety of characters, The Bag Lady, The Beggar King, The Bikers, The Whites and many more all of which are conjured, by Griffin, from the real people you see in London, in any city for that matter. I never found myself getting bored, there was always something new happening, new characters being introduced, new plot unfolding, new peril abounding. It was a setting as lively as London itself which was much appreciated since I was often reading it in order to stay awake at work.
The way that magic works is, I felt, carefully thought out. There is a clearly defined difference between magicians and sorcerers and the way that each individual uses magic is similarly different. I really felt as though Griffin had taken the time to consider the practicalities and potential drawbacks of a magic system where magic is created by life.
All in all, this book possesses all the key elements of a fantasy novel set in the modern day that I enjoy. I liked the way that magic worked, I found the characters interesting, I liked the elements of humour and the way of working references to London life and geography into the book without it feeling like a poorly disguised travel guide (or to sum it up in two words ‘the setting’).
I’ve added the other three titles in the series to my want to read list on my Goodreads (which is quickly sprawling into a behemoth I may never tame) but I’m not rushing out to purchase them all at once. It’s quite a lengthy novel at 459 pages and I need a bit of a break!
If you liked Neverwhere I don’t doubt that you’ll like this, if you’re looking for a book that is as good as Neverwhere…well let me know when you find it, I’ll buy 476 copies at once and read them until the day I die.
My rating: 4 stars