Here are two quotations that explain the perception of magic in Matthew Swift's world:
1. Matthew explains where magic comes from (Midnight Mayor, p. 159): “There are…things in this world, made up of other things—ideas—that are given life just by the nature of that idea, by the nature of living, life making magic, magic coming out of the most ordinary, trivial bits of life. Like…like when you speak into the telephone and your words are life and passion and feeling and they’re in the wires and sooner or later the wires will come alive or else they’d burst, with all that thought and emotion in them…”
2. Mr. Bakker returns from the dead for a moment to remind Matthew of the magic in everyday life in Midnight Mayor (p. 300): “Life is magic, Matthew. You said it yourself. Even the boring, mundane acts, even breathing, seeing, perceiving, being perceived. Life is magic. That is all a sorcerer is."
This is a fresh and inventive series. The reader is pulled along on Matthew's adventures, but is never privy to Matthew's inner thoughts. It's as if you were tagging along with someone who knows where he's going but doesn't see the need to let you know your destination until you get there. Matthew can be an unreliable narrator at times. In fact, he sometimes withholds information from the reader for a few paragraphs or pages, just to make things interesting. For example, in The Neon Court, when Matthew runs into his old Order nemesis, Anton Chaigneau, he seems surprised by the man's appearance, and we assume that this is a stranger. Then, Matthew talks to the man for awhile, and finally—paragraphs later—lets us know the man's identity. Each story in the series is an exciting, darkly humorous journey taken at breakneck speed, and we are forced to trust Matthew to get us to the end safely, if not securely. The humor is dry and witty, with a self-deprecating, almost mournful tone.
I have just one minor fault to find with the series: Generally, I admire an author who provides a detailed sense of place in an urban fantasy novel, but in this series, Griffin really goes a bit too far with her endless, if eloquent, descriptive riffs on every single London neighborhood, street, and room through which Matthew passes—and he passes through many, many locales. Frankly, the verbal pictorialization gets repetitious, and I found myself skipping over blocks of print to get back to the plot. A little of this goes a long way.
Fans of Simon R. Green’s NIGHTSIDE and SECRET HISTORIES series will enjoy this series, with its dry humor and its vast menagerie of vicious supernatural creatures of the night, like the litterbug (made entirely of street litter), the grease monster (composed of old cooking oils), and Mr. Pinner (a murderous, indestructible humanoid created from bits of paper, which remind me of the Robert De Niro's final scene in Terry Gilliam's film, Brazil—death by a tornado of paper).
Although Griffin ends the MATTHEW SWIFT series with the fourth novel, she has written a sequel series entitled MAGICALS ANONYMOUS starring Sharon Li, a human woman who suddenly develops the ability to walk through walls. She meets up with Matthew Swift, and he helps her out as she starts a support group for people/creatures who are having problems with their magic. Click HERE to read my reviews of the MAGICALS ANONYMOUS series.
The object of the good guys’ wrath is Matthew’s former mentor, Robert James Bakker, who has been driven by his greed for magical power and immortality to create a supernatural dictatorship that allows no detractors. The plot also involves attempts to destroy a diabolical shadow (the Hunger), which is in deadly pursuit of Matthew and his fire.
NOVEL 3: The Neon Court
As the story opens, Matthew finds himself in an abandoned building alongside his nemesis, Oda, who has been gravely injured. When the building starts to burn, they escape, but, as it turns, out, Oda is no longer human—she is something very dangerous. As Matthew tries to figure out what's happening with Oda, he realizes that the sun hasn't risen in a long while, the rain hasn't stopped, and time seems to have elongated into a continual night. Along with solving this problem, he must deal with the culmination of a long-standing feud between the Neon Court (the "high-society" Faerie Court) and the Tribe (magical outcasts who gain their magic from disfiguring themselves). The Tribe's dialogue is written in texting form to emphasize their street-cred "outsiderness": Here, Toxik, the Tribe leader, is conversing with Matthew: "U rnt listnin. dat woz wat I woz ment 2 b." (p. 247).
Matthew is still using the mundane world to make his magic. In one scene, he brings the little orange-lit man in a "Don't Walk" sign to fiery, monstrous life to hold Oda back until the traffic light changes so that Matthew can escape. We learn a great deal about Oda's early family life in this story, and we can understand why she grew to hate all things magical. Matthew's apprentice, Penny Ngwenya, also plays a critical role in the story, which is another solid addition to a great series.