Review: The Midnight Mayor
Matthew Swift has already died once and isn’t interested in doing so again. Unfortunately he has the knack of finding himself in the right place at the wrong time, and now London’s Aldermen (the magical kind) believe Swift killed the Midnight Mayor. Kinda ironic considering he didn’t even believe the guy existed in the first place…
To avoid punishment for a crime he didn’t commit, Swift searches for the mayor’s killer, but realizes there’s more to this story than the death of one man: it involves the survival of London itself.
THE MIDNIGHT MAYOR (Amazon) continues where A MADNESS OF ANGELS (Amazon) leaves off, but don’t think you have to read MADNESS to enjoy MIDNIGHT. Certainly Kate Griffin doesn’t dawdle, and explains back story along the way, but it doesn’t clutter the narrative, instead adding interest and insight. MIDNIGHT is a joyride through London’s streets about the magic that makes the city and its inhabitants tick.
In MADNESS Swift became one with the blue electric angels–the magic of the phone lines made real from the words and desires that travel via the current. As a result, in MIDNIGHT Swift’s PoV uses ‘we’ or ‘I’ because it’s them merged together narrating the story; this threw me off at first and I worried it would be all gimmicky, but it really works and it’s awesome. It’s only the beginning, however, of Swift’s progression as the lone sorcerer left in London, to a man burdened with a responsibility he didn’t ask for. Swift’s sense of humor keeps the story from being too serious, and his creative solutions to his problems are entertaining to read. He’s fun to root for because even though he’s not perfect, he’s willing to fight for the innocent who can’t protect themselves from mysterious things that go bump in the night–which also happens to be the responsibility of the mysterious Midnight Mayor…. There’s a strange and varied assortment of secondary characters; particularly interesting is Oda, a kind of religious crusader against the evils of magic, who Swift finds as an unlikely ally against a bigger threat.
The story starts off with Swift in peril from a mysterious enemy, sucking you in right from the start, and carries you along clear up until the tidy resolution. There are some leaps in logic as Swift tries to solve the problems surrounding the mayor’s death, but Swift/Griffin’s storytelling is engaging enough that I didn’t let myself get hung up on those details. I don’t want to tell you too much more about the plot because I don’t want to ruin it for you, but the connections throughout the novel keep you guessing.
The magic of London is created from ideas, words, meaning, symbols: “In the old days, a wizard would call on silver moonlight to guide them through a monster’s lair. These days, we summon sodium light and a neon glow, and the monster’s lair tends to have a trendy postcode and pay council tax.” This adds to the taste and feel of London as Swift makes his way through the town and problem he has to solve. It made the magic real to me, like that’s how it would really work in London.
Perhaps the best part of the book is Griffin’s prose. This book is an ode to London, the descriptions saturated with the magic of history, life, and place–the very things that give power to sorcerers like Swift. It can get tedious when you want to get on with the story, and slows down the pace some. The dialogue is snappy and engaging, despite the occasional monologue by random characters. Of course, not all readers will like the narrator’s voice, and it took some getting used to; those who prefer more straightforward storytelling may find themselves frutrated.
Kate Griffin may be Urban Fantasy’s best kept secret. If you enjoy Butcher’s Dresden files or Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE, then this is the series for you. The next book, THE NEON COURT, just came out and I can’t wait.
- Recommended Age: 14+ for violence
- Language: Occasional, some characters more than others
- Violence: Yes, with some gruesome details
- Sex: Referenced, but otherwise minimal