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A Madness of Angels: Or The Resurrection of Matthew Swift Hardcover – April 6, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Matthew Swift Series

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Hardcover, April 6, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

YA fantasy author Catherine Webb (The Obsidian Dagger) makes an ambitious leap to adult urban fantasy under the Griffin pseudonym. Matthew Swift, a young London sorcerer, was brutally killed thanks to the machinations of Robert James Bakker, a superpowerful mage who also targeted several of Matthew's colleagues. Two years later, Matthew revives as a we, sharing his body with an electric angel. While seeking answers, Matthew meets magician Dudley Sinclair, who wants to kill Bakker and crush his group of evil dark arts practitioners—including Matthew's former apprentice, who has become Bakker's lover. Griffin's lush prose and chatty dialogue, modeled after the best work of other modern British fantasy writers, create a wonderful ambience but often diffuse the tension, leaving readers to make their own way through the uncomplicated plot. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


'She writes with assurance and polish, and her grasp of modern mythology - the magic and the poetry inherent in contemporary life - is strong. A very promising start and great things likely to follow' - KIRKUS REVIEWS --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1 edition (April 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316041254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316041256
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,809,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kate Griffin read History at the London School of Economics, and is now studying at RADA. A Madness of Angels is her first adult fantasy novel, to be followed soon by The Midnight Mayor.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I didn't want to read this book. It was a gift that I almost gave away unread. I'd practically given up on urban fantasy, put off by far too many mediocre books with far too-similar plots and revolting artwork (if I see one more supposedly-attractive woman's butt or bare back, I. Am. Going. To. Scream). Or in the rare UF with a male protagonist, far too many efforts to ape the pulp noir genre that fail miserably.

So I was caught a bit off-guard when this book turned out to be AMAZING.

The story follows Matthew Swift, an "urban sorcerer" in London. Although he can channel electricity from wall plugs and banish demons using trash bins, he was not an especially powerful or ambitious sorcerer -- that was, until somebody killed him and brought him back to life. Now Matthew's eyes are blue (they were brown) and now he has both incredible power and a driving ambition: revenge.

The story follows his quest for vengeance as he stalks and tackles his enemies one-by-one -- but with some fascinating diversions. First, he's being trailed by the Hunger, the same creepy wraithlike creature that killed him the first time. Second, Matthew himself is no longer quite human, as the story gradually reveals -- or wholly sane, really, but this is a minor matter. Griffin reveals all this with dark, dense, chewy prose that reminds me of China Mieville and Storm Constantine at their best. She sandwiches this between devilishly witty humor (as when Matthew weaves a powerful protective spell out of a subway ticket, simply by reading the ticket's fine print) and elegant characterization, and tops it all off with some of the most original magic I've ever seen.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Based on all the other stellar reviews, I feel that I may be a bit harsh, but I really found this book difficult to read. What I look for in a good book, is a world that I would like to inhabit, and I did not find that here. The characters were interesting, but not likable, and I found the writing almost too descriptive, where more action would have been appropriate. I think it is a well written book however, with an interesting premise, which is why I give it 3 stars. That being said, I do not feel the need to inhabit this world any longer, and am uninterested in any sequels.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love novels that take the world I know and present fantastic elements just underneath it's surface. From the good (wisecracking Chicago-based wizards) to the not-so-good (Vampire executioners with poor impulse control), I'll read just about anything. What makes this book special is its rich mythology. The mysteries of what magic is and how it works are inventive and plausible. It takes a little getting used to as the reader, like the protagonist, is dropped into the story without knowing which way is up. If you like books about mystical forces and the people who wield them, you will enjoy getting to know Matthew Swift.
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Format: Hardcover
with subtle wit and layer upon layer of life and sorcerers, magic, London, the underground tube and telephones. We are first treated to a mish-mash of thoughts, feelings, terror and wonder in the beginning of the book. Much is written in third person of "We and Our". However you soon realize that Ms. Griffin is merely painting a picture with words of what it would be like to awaken after being dead for two years and having a new life form inside of you - the blue electric angels. The story is revenge against The Hunger that murdered Matthew and good vs. evil. Perhaps more importantly it is about Matthew's resurrection and his new life. He makes alliances and enemies and alliances out of enemies. Eventually he unites a group of like minded people (except for a group of a radical religious group) and unites them against a common enemy. The world has greatly changed since his death and The Tower intimidates and kills dissidents. Fear rules the magical world and even The Order (religious group)want it eliminated. There are skirmishes, battles, trators, spying, and Run RUN RUN and NEVER STOP running to and from life and it's experiences.

What I truly liked was how Ms. Griffin continually painted pictures with her dialog and descriptions. She brings Matthew to life quite like you might expect from one recently dead, and one never having physically lived sharing the same body. Those subtle sounds and voices you hear on telephones becomes the electric blue angels and live a symbiotic life within Matthew. They are electricity and remember all. They can go to the moon and back in a nano-second. They are the thoughts and lost words of everyone on the telephone. They are all of us - our energy made the magic that made them.
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Format: Hardcover
Kate Griffin is actually Catherine Webb in disguise, and Catherine Webb is the author of the Horatio Lyle novels, which I tend to gush over whenever the subject of YA fiction comes up. So, being a fan of Webb, I was excited to get my hands on her foray into urban fantasy.

I adored this. It completely took over my brain and hasn't yet let go. The world Griffin-Webb (I've decided to hyphenate her) creates, the magical underworld of London, is utterly enthralling.

Griffin-Webb's signature style is here in spades, all run-on sentences and dense, surprising descriptions. The dual-first person narration was fascinating and unique.

The magic of this world, the layers and detail Griffin-Webb injects into her mythology, took my breath away. It runs through the tunnels of the Underground, sparks through power and telephone lines, hums with traffic. It ebbs and flows to the rhythm of the city, and it can be found in the pigeon, the rat, the concrete beneath your feet. Matthew Swift, urban sorceror, paints protective wards with spray paint, builds a magical barrier from the rules of a Travelcard, fights monsters made of trash and broken street signs.

The book is also a love song to London. Griffin-Webb's descriptions pull you into the city, and made me ache for the ability to just sit on a bench and soak in the smell and feel and crackle of it. But it's not love just for the shiny, tourist-friendly surface we're all familiar with. The smog and the smoke and the pigeons, the rats, the homeless, the trash - all of it is magical, all of it is life. And through Matthew Swift - whose heart beats with the rhythm of the city, who finds strength in its noise and light and heat - we love it all.

Consider me a crazy Matthew Swift fangirl as of about fifty pages into this book.
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