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Fantasy A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

Discussion in 'Books' started by Anthony G Williams, Mar 22, 2014.

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  1. Anthony G Williams

    Anthony G Williams Greybeard Writer

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    A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

    Yet another recommendation from a review in Interzone, The Madness of Angels does make me wonder just how many different stories set in an occult version of contemporary London the market can cope with. Currently we have Jacka's Alex Veranovels and Aaronovitch's Rivers of Londonseries, before that we had the stand-alone novels Un Lun Dun from China Miéville (and also Kraken by the same author – yet to be read), Paul Cornell's London Falling (also yet to be read), Christopher Fowler's Roofworld, and finally Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. I say finally, but no doubt there are others out there…

    A Madness of Angels is the first in a series of four published so far, and is recounted in the first person by Matthew Smith, a journeyman sorcerer who was killed by his mentor, the powerful sorcerer Robert James Bakker, two years before. He is therefore somewhat disconcerted to find himself back in the flesh, sharing his body with a collection of strange beings known as the "blue electric angels". He discovers that in his absence Bakker has created a vast occult organisation called the Tower, which has incorporated most of the magical talent in London by the simple expedient of killing everyone who refused to join. Matthew Smith is being hunted but he has revenge in mind and has no intention of giving in, so he recruits an unlikely band of assorted allies and battle commences, with the geography of the city forming an effective background.


    Author Griffin slots into the London occult canon at what might be called the "richly detailed fantasy" end of the spectrum. Her style is more similar to Aaronovitch than Jacka, but the pace is slowed somewhat, leading to the book being significantly longer. I thought of Clive Barker's work when reading this (I really must read Weaveworld again, I haven't done so since it was first published). While I generally prefer a fast pace to a long book, Griffin succeeded in keeping my attention, and I will be buying more of this series.


    (This entry is cross-posted from my science-fiction & fantasy blog.)
     
  2. Kevin

    Kevin Code Monkey Staff Abductee

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    Urban Fantasy set in contemporary London? Our resident urban fantasy fan is @Azhria Lilu so I suspect this is something that'd be in her interest.

    Clive Barker is not normally a name I would think of for that genre so now you've got me curious whether I haven't read enough of his works.
     
  3. Azhria Lilu

    Azhria Lilu Rocket Ranger

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    Probably just as many as the amount of horror books set in Maine, or vampire books set in New Orleans and Seattle. London is a big place.
     
  4. Kevin

    Kevin Code Monkey Staff Abductee

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    I think those associations have more to do with extremely popular works that have taken place in those location rather than a large multitude of authors reusing the same location.

    New England, specifically the Maine area, has become synonymous with horror thanks to Stephen King. Ask somebody who has never read or saw a King movie about horror book/movie locations and the answer likely wouldn't be New England. New Orleans has become popular with vampire lore thanks to Anne Rice and, in particular, the movie adaption of Interview With a Vampire with Tom Cruise & Brad Pitt. Prior to that movie New Orleans and that area was more well known for voodoo than vampires. Voodoo is still a big association with that era, just now it is also associated with aged vampires with a Southern 'Gentlemen' background. As for the North-West region like Washington, ask anybody who hasn't read or seen the Twilight series about vampires and Seattle would be one of the last places they'd come up with.

    I understand what you're saying about London being a huge location, it's just that thanks to so many classic works set in Victorian London, like Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyhll & Hyde, The Invisible Man, it has become nearly synonymous with a certain genre. Thanks to movies like An American Werewolf in London, London has been become a bit of a default location for contemporary horror works.

    So where am I going with this? :P That London, thanks to its rich heritage as the setting for so many classic works, is now more defined in popular culture as the location for a genre of horror/fantasy works versus popular individual authors & works who are associated with a particular region.
     
  5. Azhria Lilu

    Azhria Lilu Rocket Ranger

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    To be honest, Kev, I've read books in a multitude of genres set in London, so I have no set definition for what I expect from a story set there :)
     
  6. Kevin

    Kevin Code Monkey Staff Abductee

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    I'm not saying that only horror/fantasy books are associated with London, just that in popular culture there is a propensity for the other way around, that London is the 'go to' place for horror/fantasy books.
     
  7. Azhria Lilu

    Azhria Lilu Rocket Ranger

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    Wasn't that what I was saying when I was pointing out that there's enough space for more books set in contemporary London as anywhere else?
     
  8. Kevin

    Kevin Code Monkey Staff Abductee

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    :cautious: I'll get to that thought after some more caffeine.
     

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