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I finally finished A Madness of Angels (I also finished Moon Over Soho and Whispers Underground during my week-long hiatus).  Here's what I thought of the first book of the Matthew Swift series...

This is easily among the most creative, imaginative, and evocative stories I’ve ever read.  I would go so far as to say it’s something every fantasy fan should read.  It uses typical urban fantasy magic but with a fantastic sense of wonder to it throughout the whole book. 

However, it’s not the best crafted story.  It wasn’t until more than 270 pages in that I finally got enough of a sense of the main character/narrator to care what happened to him.  I never, not in 600+ pages, ever learned to follow what he was thinking – because we just never know.  He’ll be well into doing something, some big plot-advancing plan, and the reader still has no clue what it is that he’s doing beyond the step-by-step of it.  Is he going to Dover to find the next target?  To get ingredients for a spell?  To do a spell?  He’s already there and snooping through Customs offices and we still don’t know what he’s doing.  To say nothing of why he’s doing it – there’s never any indication of what he’s thinking even as he acts on some unexplained plan he’s had.  And this is a 1st person POV book!  We should know these things because the person telling the story clearly must. 

But there’s more to this problem than that.  Without that understanding, the book is left without a sense of direction.  The POV character seems to know what he’s doing but we as readers are just meandering along beside him, dragged this way and that as he does things we can’t anticipate or follow or even really understand.  And that means there’s no pull to the story, no drive to see the plot play out, no sense of urgency over whether the characters succeed or fail.  The only thing keeping the reader turning the pages is the amazing sense of wonder to the world and its magic. 

So it’s a very good thing that this author does manage to keep inspiring a sense of awe and wonder at this world.  It’s a beautiful world and system of magic.  I have no doubt it will inspire some fantastic fanfiction written by people who know how to craft a plot.  I'd give the novel as a whole about a 4.5 out of 10, but the world is easily a 9.5 out of 10.

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Title:  The Madness of Angels
r: [ profile] ayalesca 
Fandom: Sherlock BBC, Matthew Swift Series, Rivers of London
Urban Fantasy, Fusion
Short (Words: 14,329 and counting)
Note: rec'd on fancake

Author's Summary:
In which John Watson is a war sorcerer recently invalided home from Afghanistan. In London he meets Sherlock Holmes, the world’s most irritating urban sorcerer and only consulting detective. There, John finds himself and Sherlock suddenly under attack by a mysterious and malevolent power -- and drawn into a mystery that may tear London apart.  A fusion with the Matthew Swift novels, but no prior knowledge is needed.

I'd never even heard of the Matthew Swift series before but this fic made me want to read it. This is a very enjoyable story which takes the best parts of each canon and the author's own cleverness and creates something better than the originals.  Sherlock is out of character - part of that's when he has to give the explanations for the magic systems from the small fandoms that the author is assuming you probably aren't familiar with and part of it is that John (a war mage) is more equal to him.  You don't need canon from either Matthew Swift or Rivers of London to enjoy the story (occasionally, it may be difficult to accept the descriptions of the types of magic and magical 'creatures' but trust me, the canon isn't even helpful there - the fic actually does better in several places than the canon).  You should, however, be familiar with some incarnation of Sherlock Holmes (not necessarily Sherlock BBC) just so that you know who Sherlock, Watson, Mycroft and Lestrade are.  The "blue electric angels" (from Swift canon) are very cool and the way Moriarty is fitted into the combined verse is great. 

Ayalesca has removed all their fic, but I have an archived copy of this one.  PM me with your email address if you want me to send you a copy.


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