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Stray Souls (Magicals Anonymous) Paperback – October 30, 2012
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Attention Science Fiction Fans
Man vs. machine, humans vs. aliens, paranormal activities – discover the best of science fiction with these collectible books. Learn More.
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"Kate Griffin flawlessly balances horror and humor to... pull off a funny yet frightening read about the supernatural-induced demise of London... both unique and addictive."―SciFi Now
Praise for the Matthew Swift series:
"London's magic has seldom if ever been brought to life so electrifyingly and convincingly." --- Mike Carey
"I'm fully convinced that Kate Griffin is a literary sorceress. She weaves the most intricate spells with clever, artful, snarky, luxurious prose, characters who are both painfully human and gloriously badass, and settings so magical you forget they're real places. When I get my hands on a new Kate Griffin book I put down everything else. She's just that good." --- N.K. Jemisin
"Griffin's novel mixes fantasy and reality into a plot that brings to mind Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere." --- RT Book Reviews
"Griffin's lush prose and chatty dialogue...create a wonderful ambiance." --- Publishers Weekly
"I love a lot of things about this book....the narration has meat and vitality, and it sings. Griffin's updating of magic is simply brilliant." --- Charles de Lint
"You need to read this series. Hands down." --- BSCReview.com
"Quite possibly the best urban fantasy novel I had ever read." --- Robwillreview.com
About the Author
Kate Griffin is the name under which Carnegie Medal-nominated author Catherine Webb writes fantasy novels for adults. An acclaimed author of young adult books under her own name, Catherine's amazing debut, Mirror Dreams, was written when she was only 14 years old, and garnered comparisons with Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman. She read History at the London School of Economics, and studied at RADA. Find out more about the author at www.kategriffin.net.
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Top Customer Reviews
Stop right there.
I've been where you've been: I loved the Horatio Lyle series when I was younger, and I adore the Matthew Swift books now. I'm not kidding--it's probably among my favorite series of all time. I was (like you) thrilled to read this continuation. Needless to say, I am quite angry right now.
In Magicals Anonymous, Kate Griffin absolutely slaughters her initial ingenuity. The characters are shallow, superficial, undeveloped; the magic is far less thought-provoking; and the writing/prose is, frankly, sloppy. I put up with the bad language in Matthew Swift because I felt it gave flavor, but this is just over the top. Say goodbye to the elegant descriptions of urban life, too: Sharon is too caught up in her own self-esteem issues to be bothered. Plus, fair warning, no more first-person narrative, (except for sparse intercalary chapters). The gore/violence seems forced and unnecessary, too.
If you're like me, you will ignore my warning. After all, you want to see what happens to Matthew. I understand, I get it. But it's gonna be painful. He hardly every shows up, and, when he does, it's only to get yelled at by Sharon for being uninvolved. It's agony, really: we were inside his/the angels' head for so long in the Matthew Swift books, it's bizarre (almost pitiful) to observe him from the outside.
This all sounds super harsh, I know. I appreciate that Kate Griffin/Catherine Webb is trying out different approaches to this. Thing is, her comedy is transparent; her heart-wrenching fantasy was the amazing thing. And I swear to goodness gracious, if she abandoned Matthew's character simply to preach her feminist crap--which is wonderful, don't get me wrong, but not if you murder a beautiful idea like Matthew's character--I will personally fly to London and shake her by feminist lapels.
Okay, thanks, you've read my rant--go disregard it. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Defining your identity can be hard enough for any person, without magical "extras" making you feel all the more isolated and alone. Kate Griffin puts the epic and the mundane side by side in STRAY SOULS. As Sharon's support group bumbles through their neurosis in a crumbling city, a terrible magic is killing those around them.
Unfortunately, it was just this snapshot writing style that made it hard for me to get into STRAY SOULS. 100 pages in, Sharon was still a cypher and I resented only getting spare glimpses of the Midnight Mayor and his fight against the Dog. Sharon is a modern hero, armed with self-help books and Google, but I was more than ready for her to grow out of "overly earnest support group leader" into "kickass shaman" by the time she actually started driving the story.
I had to adjust my expectation from "Urban Fantasy" to "Hapless British Comedy with Magic" before I could enjoy this book. STRAY SOULS is a story of misfits, complete with point of view "confessionals" from supporting characters. I loved the dotty, powerful characters immediately, Dr. Seah ("...drugs are cool - I mean, like medicinal drugs - they're awesome."), Sammy the Elbow, and Matthew Swift. The neurotic members of Sharon's support group took a lot longer for me to warm up to. As Sharon's patience grows thin and her temper flares, however, I enjoyed her more and more. But even as the characters started to win me over, I still found myself skimming past most of the social commentary and therapy jargon.
This is a book that I liked despite itself. The narrative style didn't click for me until about halfway through, and Sharon's self-help schtick never quick clicked, but almost against my will I found myself laughing along with Griffin's relentless humor. Where I had to be won over page by page, readers who like a little silliness in their urban fantasy will love this mix of danger and humor unreservedly.
Sexual Content: None.
It is a riveting, funny, wonderfully-written romp that enhances Kate (Catherine Webb) Griffin's already enviable reputation for creating new, imaginative and thoroughly enjoyable excursions in urban fantasy.
Five stars for sure and I'll be standing in line for the Sharon Li's next jaunt.