Kate Griffin: The Minority Council

The Minority Council, the fourth novel in Kate Griffin’s Midnight Mayor series, puts Matthew Swift, the current Midnight Mayor of London, is more peril of his and the Electric Blue Angels’ existence than in any of the previous novels as an evil far greater than anything he (they) have faced before is loose upon London.

(Digression: Matthew died most certainly, as he was murdered and his body dissolved, his essence then merging with the electric blue angels who ride the telephone lines. Complicating that already complicated new being is that those beings are composed of all the messages, all the thoughts, that mortal humans left along those electronic ley lines. Now Matthew and the angelm share one very mortal body. Griffin tells the story using both singular and plural narrative modes.)

As I’ve said before, he/they are of a London where magicians can ride the Last Train, provided they can see it, ask a boon of The Beggar King, and have The Bag Lady save them from creatures most foul, even if that being is comprised of mere refuse. Enter a London where beings of power soar with the pigeons, converse with foxes over matters trivial and of great import, and use rats to view that which does not wished to be viewed. Oh, and where the right tattoos can be a powerful weapon indeed!

The Minority Council advances the story as a new drug, fairy dust, is on the market and its source is the very essence of those touched by magic who are killed by it to make yet more of it. Meanwhile teenagers with ASBOs are being hunted and killed by a mystical creature and ordinary criminals are dying by magical means for no obvious reasons. In other words, the existence of both magical and mortal beings is under threat.

Enter Blackout, a being so powerful, so evil, that he will literally end everything if Matthew doesn’t figure out how to counter his magics and survive the attacks of those he controls. So if Swift is going to save London from a rising tide of blood, he will have to learn what it really means to be Midnight Mayor and the learning curve is apparently far too steep for the time before literally everything goes dark.

OK, the story is, as always in this series, splendid. And it’s worth reading, after you read the first three novels of course, for the story. Oh, but her language is so superb that it’s worth savoring in and of itsel,f much like the language in China Mieville’s Kraken or Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches. Here’s an excerpt:

So I walked. Over muddy quays drained down to the bed, past timber warehouses and cement factories, beneath the white bulbous lights of brand new apartment blocks and over crooked paths between cracked tarmac roads. Past shops with brown-eyed mannequins staring emptily out from reflective window-panes, through the smell of Chinese take-away guarded by a forever-saluting golden Nazi cat, across car parks to shopping estates where the average price of the average good was £14.99 and this month’s material of choice was polyester or plywood, past little chapels wedged in between the building society and the sixth-form college where, If You Believed It, You Could Achieve It. (Classes rated ‘Satisfactory’ by the Schools Inspector.) I kept the river to my left, paused to watch a flight of twin-bladed military helicopters following the curve of the water into the centre of town, leant out over a balustrade to see the silver towers of Canary Wharf catching cloud in their reflective surfaces, watched the train rattle away beneath Greenwich Hill, felt the shock as we crossed the Prime Meridian. Ley lines exist but, like all of magic, they are formed where life is thickest, and where meaning is imposed by man. Life is magic; magic grows where there is most life.

I really, really wished that these had been made into audiobooks as they would be be simply superb listening! Mind you, they are well-worth your time as good old- fashioned novels, too. Now onto her newest novel, Stray Souls. I expect it to be every bit as good as these novels are.

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