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The Neon Court: Or, the Betrayal of Matthew Swift by Kate Griffin
Cover Artist: Photo: Shutterstock
Review by Drew Bittner
Orbit Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316093644
Date: 24 March 2011 List Price $19.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Matthew Swift is in big trouble. Okay, that's nothing new--as Midnight Mayor of London, it's his job to be in the middle of supernatural catastrophe. But even this is pushing it, with war about to break out between two heavyweight magical communities and the sun refusing to put in an appearance, even as the outlying suburbs begin to vanish into mystical darkness.

Not exactly another day at the office.

The Neon Court opens with Matthew summoned (against his will) to a burning apartment building, where he is attacked by a strange figure and ends up helping his old ally/enemy Oda escape the fire. Turns out Oda's been stabbed through the heart but hasn't died; instead, she's now possibly the locus of some very hideous evil about to afflict London.

Also by Kate Griffin:
Matthew Swift series:
* A Madness of Angels
* The Midnight Mayor
* The Neon Court

Working with his fractious protegee Penny and his recalcitrant allies the Aldermen, Matthew must try to sort out what exactly is waiting for him (as a number of portents insist) and where the sun went. Also, how did Oda end up mystically charged and capable to inflicting bloody blindness and death at a glance?

Of course, it might be easier if Oda--whom Matthew thinks of as a "psycho bitch" and who harbors an undying hatred of the supernatural--hadn't asked him to save AND kill her....

To get a handle on this, Matthew is going to have to turn to a very dark source of information and risk the city of London itself as the darkness closes in. If it achieves a stranglehold, even the Midnight Mayor might not see the next sunrise.

In her third Matthew Swift novel, Kate Griffin brings the surreal side of magical London to the forefront. A great setting for several writers, Griffin's London is both mundane and mysterious, its streets holding dark secrets and its people afflicted by weird maladies or compulsions. It's a fascinating blend of what we see and what we dread, rolled into one, with a very unusual protagonist at the center. Matthew himself is a sorcerer who was betrayed, sacrificed and murdered some time ago, only to be resurrected through bonding with the electric blue angels (apparently similar to sentient electricity with LOTS of magical power). He inherited the duty of Mignight Mayor in the previous volume and survived the Death of Cities, but this new challenge is a bit much even for him.

Oda is much like her previous appearances, except that now she has mystical power at her command and is thus far more dangerous. Formerly a member of the Order (devoted to destroying people like Matthew), she forged a truce with Matthew that is now betrayed; her actions are bringing the Neon Court (the modern incarnation of the faerie folk) and the Tribe (a collection of self-mutilating magi) into conflict. Even worse, she's forcing Matthew (bound by treaty) to stand with the Court or face a war on two fronts.

The situation is marvelously complex; the reader will gasp for air here and there, as matters defy easy explanation. But the going is well rewarded and Matthew's gambles--well, suffice to say that nothing worth doing comes cheap.

Fans of high quality urban fantasy and an original voice will really enjoy this series, but start with the first one (A Madness of Angels) to ease into the uncanny world of Matthew Swift.

Recommended.

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