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The Midnight Mayor: Or, the Inauguration of…

The Midnight Mayor: Or, the Inauguration of Matthew Swift

by Kate Griffin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3991740,370 (4.1)48
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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
  CarmaSpence | Jul 26, 2018 |
When you are half comprised of an entity that began existence as the remnants of voices left in the telephone wires and the emotions they carried, it’s difficult to resist answering the phone. When you are also half comprised of perhaps the only remaining sorcerer alive in London, the former protégé of the man who killed all of the others, there’s a distinct danger that the person on the other end wants to do more than sell you double glazing. Matthew Swift awakens from the shock of a call that leaves a mystical brand carved into his hand with a pack of spectres out for his blood, and figuring out why they are after him leads him down a greater and greater chain of mysteries: Who or what killed London’s Midnight Mayor, why are all of the city’s mystical protections suddenly being broken, and what does any of this have to do with his shoes?

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and for the most part, The Midnight Mayor is an excellent successor. Although I appreciated the occasionally extravagant descriptive prose in A Madness of Angels, Griffin’s writing here is a bit sharper and more refined, especially in the second half, while still richly evoking the sensory experience of London. The pacing is smoother too, perhaps aided by the fact that she’s juggling a larger number of threads, so the page count is earned and there’s no room for the sagging middle of the first book.

For all that A Madness of Angels felt like a love letter to London, it’s this book which I think really delves into why Matthew is so drawn to this city, not just to the magic in the heart of every urban centre. It takes a lot of love to come back to the place that killed you, and we get to see Matthew examine, claim, and defend that connection. The Matthew we see here is also a less divided one, one who has at least progressed down the path of acceptance that the old Matthew Swift is gone and that the new one is as much blue electric angel as anything, and I think that contributes a little to why the prose seems smoother: There’s less of an internal identity struggle to represent, and a more seamless passage into I am us and we are me.

The central mystery struck just the right tone, keeping enough different pieces in the air that it was difficult to put them all together through guesswork, but without getting convoluted. Towards the end it did beggar belief a little, even for a genre in which it’s almost traditional for the hero to be beaten black and blue by the end of each book, how much someone with serious internal injuries was able to accomplish when they really should have been passing out from them, but I’ll put that down to cinematic pacing, like every television show where it seems as if people are able to have two-minute conversations during a thirty-second countdown.

There were only two things that really bugged me and held me back from giving this book a higher rating than the first. The first was the wonky morality behind Matthew’s decision to save one innocent life at the cost of several others, or rather, the fact that this was presented as a heroic moment. The only difference between the person he wanted to save and the many people who died because of that decision is that the former was of narrative importance and the latter, I guess, weren’t. Whether it’s wrong to let several innocent people die because you don’t want to be responsible for taking one innocent life to save them is a legitimate moral question for a character to ask, but it shouldn’t be presented as a moral victory when it’s just kind of shrugged off.

The other issue was Oda. While Matthew became a more rounded and nuanced character, she went in the opposite direction. In the first book, I kind of liked Oda even though she’s a religious fanatic. She was an interesting one, and she was, if not smart, at least wily. The Oda of The Midnight Mayor must have lost a few brain cells in the transition, because she reacts to every new strange encounter as though she’s experiencing magic for the first time, when she’s not bombarding Matthew with stupid and banal questions in situations where a character with Oda’s experience with the inscrutable ought to know to shut the fuck up and get on with it until the mission is over. I finished the book hoping we aren’t going to hear from her again, but somehow I doubt I’ll be that lucky.

The story finishes in an otherwise promising place for future installments, bringing in a character who I think might help show a side of Matthew I’d very much like to see. Between that and the tantalising hint of the title -- The Neon Court -- I’m excited for the third book.

Review from Bookette.net ( )
  Snumpus | Aug 24, 2017 |
I can never quite decide whether I love the Matthew Swift books, or whether I am totally confused by them. Probably both.
  mummimamma | Apr 20, 2016 |
Various words come to mind and a part of me wants to write a scathingly satirical and clever send-up of Griffin's effort. In part because she comes so close to being very good indeed. But Matthew Swift is a two-dimensional bore and I began gnashing my teeth after about the fiftieth time he started bleeding profusely after ripping up his stitches so that the wound flapped while he was running and bleeding, and oh, the blood dripping down his arm, down his fingers, pooling here and there, drip, drip, drip. Gawd, this fellow has a copious amount of blood! It was tedious and maddening and in the end made the whole story silly when it wasn't all that silly. And it wasn't the only repetitious tick, there were others. The core magical ideas are solid and original, the plot was sound, and the descriptions of London are sometimes inspired . . . But, for heaven's sake, give Matthew some decent clothes? Several pleasant nights off? A date with someone who won't immediately get killed? Maybe even a real relationship with someone? Friends who aren't always threatening to kill him? In other words, give him some dimension? He so obviously ISN'T a hateful person that it is bizarre how automatically people hate him. His goodness is just there, a blob of cloying honey in his personality, unearned, unexplained, obvious. He lacks depth because nothing except being pummeled and gored ever happens to him. Perhaps what is lacking is EDITING. Griffin, since she can't do it for herself, needs a thoughtful and determined editor who can pry the good book hidden inside the prolixity. There is a sub-genre of bloody fantasy, which, for some reason, urban fantasy is especially vulnerable to, and which always seems to require a person who describes it all in the first person. I am not going to read the last two books in the series (so far). I will donate them all to the local library since some people seem to enjoy this stuff. **1/2 ( )
  sibyx | Apr 11, 2016 |
Matthew Swift died choking on his own blood.
Years later, he came back.
But he didn't come back alone.

His struggle to understand his death, and the other magic users' struggle to come to terms with his new dual identity of blue electric angels and dead man, formed the basis for [b:A Madness of Angels|6186355|A Madness of Angels (Matthew Swift #1)|Kate Griffin|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1305861910s/6186355.jpg|6366640]. After the cataclysmic events of the last few years, Swift deserves a nice long break--but alas, he's the last sorcerer left in London, and doom has come upon his city. The supernatural defenses of London are falling one after another, and no one knows why.

I read this all in one stretch into the wee hours of the morning, because I couldn't bear to put it down. The book moves at a frantic pace, jumping from a confrontation with a monster made of bathtub scum and grease to a club where the music is the beat of the owner's heart. The last book was an exploration of the boundaries of life; this one is a long, convoluted look at what it means to live in a city. The incredible complexity and interconnectedness of it, the tension between strangers, the meanings of neighborhoods, the effects of feeling anonymous and small--it's all wrapped up in the plot. The writing is at times almost psychedelic, dealing as it does with magic of the weird and wild kind. Swift's spells are a combination of twists on common sense and modern life: he uses traffic signals as binding spells, recites brand names as summoning spells, and captures spirits by in beer bottles (because you can drown anything at the bottom of a beer bottle). He'll cajole a key into fitting into a lock one moment, then smash his fist, crackling with electricity, into an alarm the next. He loves street food, wants to know everyone's names, gives all his money to beggars, tells anyone about magic who'll listen, refuses to kill his enemies--he's basically my favorite character ever. The other characters are equally intriguing (but I hesitate to name names, lest I spoil anything).

I love these books, and I can't wait to read the next one. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
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We be light, we be life, we be fire!

We slither blood blue burning, we sing neon rumbling, we dance heaven!

Come be me and be free.

Me be blue electric angel.

— Anonymous graffiti, Old Street

Don't give me all this hokum about the Midnight Mayor. You tell me there's a man who is the chosen protector of the city? Who cannot die so long as the idea of the city exists, who carries burnt into his flesh the mark of the city and hears the dreams of the stones themselves? You seriously want me to believe that the Midnight Mayor is real and out there in the night keeping us safe from all the big nasties that are going to gobble us up, then the first thing you should do is tell me what these nasties are that I need so much protecting from.

— M. Swift, "The Midnight Mayor and Other Myths" — Urban Magic Magazine, vol. 37, June 2003
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The telephone rang.
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It's said that if the ravens ever leave the Tower of London, then the Tower will crumble and the kingdom will fall. Resurrected sorcerer Matthew Swift is about to discover that this isn't so far from the truth.

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Orbit Books

2 editions of this book were published by Orbit Books.

Editions: 0316041238, 0316079901

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