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Kate Griffin

Catherine Webb(1986- )
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 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. Learn more at Kate Griffin’s website.
Catherine Webb also writes under the pseudonym Claire North.

A Madness of Angels: The magical soul of London

A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

I think maybe I love Kate Griffin’s A Madness of Angels. It’s a mature love, too, not just a crush, because I can see the faults in the thing and I love it anyway. It’s a hard book to write about without spoiling the fun for everyone, so instead of discussing the plot I will focus on what I loved.

I love Griffin’s view of magic. Reviewers compare A Madness of Angels to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and those comparisons are apt. This is a book, first and foremost, about London, a magical London that is as close to our London as the next bus kiosk, the Tube or that pigeon waddling toward you looking for a handout.

Matthew Swift was a sorcerer, able to harness the magic of the city in a holistic, ... Read More

The Midnight Mayor: Merely enjoyable

The Midnight Mayor by Kate Griffin

I loved Kate Griffin’s A Madness of Angels.

I merely enjoyed the sequel, The Midnight Mayor.

This is not an uncommon experience to have with a sequel. I think part of the problem comes from the amount of time devoted to the first novel, when the writer had years to re-imagine, revise, reread and rethink; time to burnish that pivotal paragraph or really dig deep to capture that motivation, contrasted with the length of time allowed with Book Two of a multi-book contract. The Midnight Mayor seems to suffer from a lack of the deep and loving detail the reader saw in A Madness of Angels.

Some of the problem lies with the plot. The plot in Madness was unapologetically linear, but there was such an interesting world being developed, a... Read More

The Neon Court: All the things I love about the Swift books

The Neon Court by Kate Griffin

The Neon Court, Kate Griffin’s third Matthew Swift novel, starts out with high drama as Matthew, urban sorcerer and Midnight Mayor of London, abruptly materializes on the top floor of a burning building. Oda, a member of the fundamentalist, magic-hating Order, has used a summoning spell to bring him there. This is enough, in her belief system, to damn her soul. Oda is dying, or at least, she should be, since she has been stabbed through the heart and is weeping tears of blood, but she is still surprisingly animated, and she needs Matthew’s help, although he doesn’t understand what she is asking.

It takes Matthew’s magic to deliver them from the flaming tower, and then things really get bad. The Neon Court, the urban incarnation of the Realm of Faerie, has come to town to declar... Read More

The Minority Council: Swift and Griffin at their best

The Minority Council by Kate Griffin

The thing that gives Matthew Swift, London’s last urban sorcerer and Midnight Mayor, his extraordinary power is that he loves London. He loves the gritty streets, the posh apartment buildings, glowing graffiti, the blowing trash, the murky river, the pigeons, rats and urban foxes. He loves the underground, the trains, buses and cars. He loves the hole-in-the-wall diners and take-outs, the stink of diesel and petrol fumes, curry and incense. It is this love that gives him his power, and this love that makes Kate Griffin’s The Minority Council the best MATTHEW SWIFT book since A Madness of Angels.

Swift may be the Midnight Mayor, but he is also virtually homeless. The Aldermen, minions of the Mayor, do not trust him, and — horror of horrors! — he has been saddled with a perky personal assistant. Late on... Read More

Stray Souls: Griffin moves into Pratchett territory

Stray Souls by Kate Griffin

I am a big fan of Kate Griffin’s MATTHEW SWIFT books. I think her love of  London; the majestic, the beautiful, the historic, the grungy, the run-down and the shoddy, powers those books, as does a system of magic that grown organically from the city (or, as Swift puts it, “Life is magic.”) With Stray Souls, Griffin introduces another character and what appears to second series set in the same magical universe; the MAGICALS ANONYMOUS series.

Sharon Li is twenty-two. She is a barista in a coffee shop and shares a flat with three flat-mates. She is addicted to self-help books, but lately she’s had a few experiences that go beyond the Change-your-mind-change-your-life kind of thing — like, she can walk through walls. Sharon does what anyone would do in this situation; she forms a group on Facebook. Soon the Facebook group evolves into a real support group, with a meeting s... Read More

The Glass God: Sharon Li is no Matthew Swift

The Glass God by Kate Griffin

The Glass God is the second book in Kate Griffin’s Magicals Anonymous series. These books are set in the same magical London as the MATTHEW SWIFT books, but follow the character of Sharon Li, barista turned shaman turned “community support worker” for various magical beings in the greater London area.

While Swift, a sorcerer, is a loner and a one-person army of anarchy, that’s not how Sharon rolls. She is a shaman, and shamans by definition must function in service to a tribe. As Sharon herself puts it, Swift is “such a bad-ass, such a fire-brand, look at all the stuff he’s blown up,” while she is “so ‘cuppa tea in the afternoon.’” Swift, the Midnight Mayor, the night guardian of the city of London, has recognized his own shortcomings, though (for example, no one would accuse him of having good people skills) and hired Sharon for exactly her “let’s work... Read More