Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review: The Glass God (Magicals Anonymous 2) by Kate Griffin - July 27, 2013

The Glass God
Author:  Kate Griffin
Series:  Magicals Anonymous 2
Publisher:  Orbit, July 9, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages
Price:  $15.00 (print)
ISBN:  9780356500652 (print)
Review copy:  Purchased by Melanie

Sharon Li: apprentice shaman and community support officer for the magically inclined.

It wasn't the career Sharon had in mind, but she's getting used to running Magicals Anonymous and learning how to Be One With The City.

When the Midnight Mayor goes missing, leaving only a suspiciously innocent-looking umbrella behind him, Sharon finds herself promoted. Her first task: find the Midnight Mayor. The only clues she has are a city dryad's cryptic message of doom and several pairs of abandoned shoes ...

Suddenly, Sharon's job feels a whole lot harder.

Melanie's Thoughts

Sharon Li is just starting to come to grips with being a shaman, her role as protector of London, community support officer and head of Magicals Anonymous - the self help group for the magical misfits of London. Sharon even has an office and an IT manager in the form of Rhys the druid.  Things are going well until she finds out the Midnight Mayor, Matthew Swift, has gone missing. Just before disappearing Swift promotes Sharon to deputy Midnight Mayor and leaves her an old umbrella as a very tenuous clue as to what might have happened to him. With the help of Swift's PA Kelly, the Aldermen, Rhys, and the 'magical gang' Sharon sets out to rescue not just the Midnight Mayor but all of London in the process.

I really enjoyed Book 1 in the Magicals Anonymous series, Stray Souls. I thought it had a kooky cast of characters, an engaging plot and a lot of well timed humour. While I enjoyed The Glass God my very first reaction was that it wasn't quite as funny and that there wasn't enough time given to my favourite characters. Although it has been a while since I read Stray Souls I remember there being chapters more or less dedicated to the secondary characters including Kevin - the germaphobic vampire, Gretel the troll who likes gourmet food, Sally - the harpy who loves fine art, and Mr Roding - a necromancer who is decaying before everyone's eyes.  I especially liked Kevin. Sharon was my least favourite character, albeit being the star of the show. As I write this review I realise that I am not being exactly fair to poor Sharon and perhaps, more importantly to Kate Griffin.  While the plot focusses mainly on Sharon and by association Rhys, there are chapters or parts of chapters involving the other characters. Individually, each character helps to develop the plot by revealing clues to the mystery surrounding Swift's disappearance, as well as providing comic relief. We also get to meet a few new characters and get to know others from Book 1 such as Kelly who is Swift's overly efficient PA. Kelly probably has some of the best lines in the book. Griffin concentrates her efforts on developing Sharon as a character and there are some 'really cool' new things in store for the shaman as her powers grow.

Griffin, writes very much as a Londoner. While I thoroughly enjoy following the characters across London on their adventures I wonder how well non-Londoners relate to her depiction of the city. I guess the same could be said of any book based in any well known city but in this case Griffin has infused Sharon's London with her personal viewpoint. I am not completely sure whether anyone other than residents or people really familiar with the city would 'get' some of the jokes and locational references. Personally, I love reading about what part of London Sharon is going to go to next and sometimes even think (in my own sad way) 'hey that's where Sharon did xyz' when I pass by a landmark from the book. London is a superb setting for these books and Griffin has done an excellent job of using London's landmarks and folklore to her advantage.

It's not necessary to have read the Matthew Swift books but it may help to have read at least the first one to understand who/what Swift is. Overall, this is a great book in a great series. It has almost everything you could want in light hearted paranormal mystery with funny characters, a great mystery and a unique, innovative plot.


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