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A blog about books and other things speculative

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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

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

Review: The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow - May 11, 2013



The Red Plague Affair
Author:  Lilith Saintcrow
Series:  Bannon and Clare
Publisher:  Orbit, May 21, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Price:  $13.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780316183734 (print)
Review copy:  NetGalley

Review: The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow - May 11, 2013
The service of Britannia is not for the faint of heart--or conscience...

Emma Bannon, Sorceress Prime in service to Queen Victrix, has a mission: to find the doctor who has created a powerful new weapon. Her friend, the mentath Archibald Clare, is only too happy to help. It will distract him from pursuing his nemesis, and besides, Clare is not as young as he used to be. A spot of Miss Bannon's excellent hospitality and her diverting company may be just what he needs.

Unfortunately, their quarry is a fanatic, and his poisonous discovery is just as dangerous to Britannia as to Her enemies. Now a single man has set Londinium ablaze, and Clare finds himself in the middle of distressing excitement, racing against time and theory to find a cure. Miss Bannon, of course, has troubles of her own, for the Queen's Consort Alberich is ill, and Her Majesty unhappy with Bannon's loyal service. And there is still no reliable way to find a hansom when one needs it most...

The game is afoot. And the Red Plague rises.



Melanie’s Thoughts

The Red Plague Affair is the second installment of the Bannon and Clare series and there is more adventure ahead for this unlikely pair. The story continues not long after the end of The Iron Wrym Affair (Bannon and Clare 1) with Clare and Bannon living their separate lives. Bannon has been summoned by Queen Victrix to find a renowned biologist while Clare is out searching for his arch nemesis, Dr. Vance. Things turn dire for Clare as in the midst of his pursuit of Dr. Vance and this puts our favourite odd couple back together. Bannon soon sets Clare to work with the task of helping her to find the elusive Dr. Morris. What they find however, is far worse than anything they could have imagined as Morris had developed a deadly plague and released it on the unsuspecting citizens of Londonium. It’s a race against time for Clare to find a cure and for Bannon to save the day. The odds are stacked against the oddest couple in this steampunk world.

I really liked The Iron Wrym Affair on my first read through but didn't think it held up on my second read of it. The things that bothered me in book 1 were cleared up in book 2, well almost! Clare and Bannon have a much closer relationship in The Red Plague Affair and there is more camaraderie between the two and evidence that their friendship has grown since they last worked together. I actually liked Bannon in this novel and thought that Saintcrow wrote her with more humanity than in the previous novel. Bannon was something other than just her curly hair, well trimmed outfits and sparkling jewels. There was also more revealed about Bannon’s past and how she ended up in the Collegia and as a Prime. Clare was his usual witty self and more of this novel was dedicated to the talented mentath. He was also used as the method of drawing out Bannon’s past which I thought was a good way of revealing her story. There were a few more tidbits about Mikal, Bannon’s Shield (aka bodyguard) but Saintcrow continues to tease me by not revealing who or what he is. For those that haven’t read The Iron Wrym Affair, much is made about Mikal’s mysterious past, about what he is and his motivation for working for Bannon. Even in this second installment she constantly questions the circumstances of how he came to work for her, where he came from and more importantly, whether she trusts him. There was a point in the novel that Mikal was about to confess to Bannon but she said she didn’t want to know. I was practically screaming at my Kindle ‘tell me, tell me, I want to know!’ There is the biggest tease at the end of the book about Mikal that makes me hope that Saintcrow doesn’t leave us hanging on much longer.

Saintcrow, really ramps up the tension in The Red Plague Affair as I was on the edge of my seat from the first chapter. There was a lot happening in this installment and even the scenes with just Clare on his own in Bannon’s house were full of intrigue. The discovery of the plague and quest to find a cure were subtle in their intensity, especially the scenes with Clare. There was a real feeling of the race against time to find the cure and it culminated into a truly exciting ending. I was a bit disappointed with The Iron Wrym but I thought that The Red Plague Affair more than made up for it. The plot was well constructed with the right mix of action, plot and intrigue. I think that Saintcrow needs to resolve the Mikal mystery soon as I think that the 'not knowing' could grow thin after a while. This is really nit picking as The Red Plague Affair is a dark and compelling read with a gorgeous cover!
Review: The Glass God (Magicals Anonymous 2) by Kate Griffin - July 27, 2013Review: The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow - May 11, 2013

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