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Stray Souls (Magicals Anonymous #1)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  852 ratings  ·  150 reviews

When Sharon Li unexpectedly discovers she's a shaman, it's not a moment too soon: London's soul is lost. Using her newfound oneness with the City, she sets about saving London from inevitable demise, but the problem is she has no clue where to start. Meanwhile, a mysterious gate has opened, and there are creatures loose that won't wait for her to c...more
Published October 30th 2012 by Orbit (first published October 25th 2012)
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Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
No doubt about it, Stray Souls was a fun, fast read, an urban fantasy exploration rife with British and topical humor, mostly about the self-help movement. Which is, depending on your mood, either a strength or a weakness. Choose your timing accordingly.

Review continued at:

You can also read mine, and MLE's reviews on our blog.

This book kind of makes me sad. I love the Matthew Swift novels, and it looks like these are taking over, which sucks. I want Swift back. I mean Griffin can do both, I will understand switching back and forth between series.
So in saying that, this is why I gave this book four stars. I liked it, but I didn’t like it as much as the Matthew Swift series.
Sharon is not Swift.
Sharon (Hello Sharon) is a new age, walking self help book, which...more
Dec 23, 2013 Carly rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of light, creative, and hilarious UF who won't mind the style.
Recommended to Carly by: GoodReads Giveaway! Thanks, GR!
**edit 12/23/13: I ended up doing a reread. I'm keeping the first-read review here, but you can find the updated review at .

In a sudden, overwhelming rush of light and noise and music and emotion and knowledge, Sharon Li becomes an urban shaman. And just like that, it's gone again. But Sharon Li isn't one to wait on the universe; as a yoga-deep-breathing, self-help-reading, blue-haired optimist, she decides to take her problems to the internet. She sets u...more
As far as I am concerned Kate Griffin can do no wrong. I loved every word of her Matthew Swift novels and I was so happy to see him back in this new series and still playing a pivotal role. I hope the author intends to keep him there in future books. I could read Griffin's descriptions of London all day and never get bored. How does she know so much? Does she walk around the city herself for days on end to get her details correct and to soak up all that fantastic atmosphere? Can't wait to go and...more
See this mini review and others like it at!

STRAY SOULS had a very interesting premise, but it did take me a little while to get used to the narrative device. The story is told from multiple viewpoints, with Sharon’s being dominant, and often breaks up the main story with excerpts from the self-help group; some chapters are basically confessionals from the group members. Though I found it to be pretty original, it did make the overall flow seem a bit choppy. I found myself s...more
This begins a new series in the same magical-London setting as the Midnight Mayor books. We have a new central character: Sharon Li, failing barista and (suddenly) urban shaman. Attempting to deal with unexpected at-one-ness with the entire city and an occasional tendency to walk through walls, Sharon does what anyone would do: she starts a Facebook group for people with magical problems.

This new series is a distinct shift in tone and story-shape. The Matthew Swift books were fire, terror, wild...more
Ade Couper
I've been a big fan of Kate Griffin's "Matthew Swift" novels , & so was keen to read this : the story of Sharon Li , apprentice Shaman , & her attempts to thwart the plans of the mysterious (& frankly unpleasant) Mr Ruislip....

Ok , the bad points 1st : I wasn't keen on the structure of the work : it's written in mainly very short chapters, some of which were only a page long , which I found made it too easy to put the book down rather than persevere . I also found some of the charact...more
One day, for one moment, Sharon Li knows every thing about her city. It's too much for her mind to handle, so she forgets, but the experience leaves her with the unsettling ability to walk through walls or become invisible. A fan of self-help books, Sharon decides to start a support group using a facebook invite. This is the start of Magicals Anonymous, a strange mix of creepy (a necromancer constantly in search of new skin-care products, who measures his magical output in the body mass index it...more
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Someone has stolen London's soul, and it's up to Sharon, a barista-cum-shaman, to find that soul and return it to the city.

I loved, loved, loved this book. From novice shaman Sharon, to her toothpaste-obsessed goblin mentor, the germ-obsessed vampire, the gourmet troll, and the druid with psychosomatic allergies, the characters were memorable, kooky, and well-developed. None lacked detail or seemed like an afterthought. The city itself became...more
I have to start by saying that Stray Souls was initially a little hard to get into the swing of. It’s very British — in speech, language, and sense of humor. But once I did get into the swing of it, I couldn’t put it down.

Sharon Li is a barista in a so-so coffee shop with a crappy boss, who’s eventually told she’s a shaman, but has trouble believing it. Her mentor is cranky and not so much into the whole teaching thing. And when Sharon is told she has to find the missing souls of London, she has...more
Started off a strong four, dipped significantly for a long stretch, came back. So, average 3.5, maybe.

It's entirely possible that this would have been more of a hit if I'd realised the Matthew Swift books came first before reading this, or equally possible it wouldn't. What I do feel fairly certain of is that it would have read better with a good pruning. I really liked Sharon Li, and enjoyed her voice, but there were just too many passages in which she bursts out in frustration about the way ev...more
Dave Higgins
Set in the same magical London as Griffin’s Matthew Swift novels , this novel skilfully introduces a cast of low powered or inept protagonists, giving a new and exciting perspective on the city.

The plot focuses on Sharon Li, a newly awakened shaman and self-help book addict, and the other members of Magicals Anonymous, a support group for those who have issues with integrating the magical and the mundane. When the spirit of London disappears ancient feuds and political struggles prevent Swift or...more
3.5 stars. Good urban fantasy about a London barista who discovers she's a shaman and somehow has to rescue the missing spirit of the city. I enjoyed the unusual premise, but struggled a bit with the style - although that got better as I became more used to it. Plus I think this could've been trimmed down a bit, as bits of the middle seemed to drag.
E.J. Frost
Fabulous new entry in Kate Griffin's magical London. When I read about the book I was afraid it wouldn't compare to The Minority Council, which I've added to my 'favourite books of all time' shelf, but I was pleasantly surprised. I very much liked seeing Matthew Swift from Sharon Li's perspective. The narrative structure of this story is both fitting and highly entertaining, and gave me a break from the sometimes overwhelming stream-of-consciousness style that Griffin employs when her characters...more
Dark Faerie Tales
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A familiar setting filled with new characters, but has a few distracting qualities.

Opening Sentence: It was raining when Sharon Li became one with the city.

The Review:

Stray Souls by Kate Griffin is a new series set in a similar London as the Midnight Mayor series. Magic and paranormal beings are a norm in this world, complete with new characters in an urban world. I was a fan of the Midnight Mayor series, so I couldn’t wait to dive into Stra...more
Like all the other Kate Griffin books i've read, this one is a fast, entertaining, wonderfully imaginative extravaganza. And it's a bit disappointing. It's almost entirely, really, a sequence of action scenes. They're peppered with intense but tiny moments of characterization and story, glimpsed out of the corner of the narrative eye. I always wish - always expect, actually - that sooner or later the book must turn to them, that these are what it's all about! The problem is, what arrives instead...more
Aspen Junge
While this is in the same world as the Matthew Swift novels, Matthew and the electric blue angels are only a bit character. Once again, the City of London is great peril, but a sorcerer isn't of any particular use solving this problem; it needs a more subtle touch. A shaman's touch. Too bad there aren't too many creditable shamans around.

Well, there's the gal who started that Facebook group, the one named Magicals Anonymous but was very nearly named Weird Shit Keeps Happening to Me and I Don't...more
Kate Griffin's books are just plain amazing. I really loved the Matthew Swift series, and I like the sequel series, Magicals Anonymous as well.

Stray Souls was a great disappointment for the first about 30% of the book. Nothing was really happening, and you - the reader - can't really decide what's going on and who is this book even about. This isn't like the uncertainty of the Matthew Swift books, because those at least always had a sense of where they were going. Stray Souls, in contrast, begin...more
I LOVE naratives that present an outside viewpoint on characters or events the audience already knows, and with this foray into Matthew Swift's London that is precisely what we have. Sharon is wildly unlike Matthew Swift, and her approach to dealing with London's metaphysical weirdness is a lovely contrast to that of the Midnight Mayor. She'd be at home in a Terry Pratchett book, would Sharon - she's the kind of practical, capable young woman who rolls up her sleeves and gets things done with th...more
Fuck yeah, Sharon Li.

Hats off for a heroine in an urban fantasy who's genuinely dealing with all the crap of being a little (just a little) left of centre as a young city woman, with the friends and the lack of job and the lack of guy and crazy shit happening but like hell is she going to be belitted, condescended at or led around by the nose. Hats off for a heroine who isn't white-as-white-can-be, who doesn't kick arse so much as shoulder into her powers and rearrange reality, who doesn't have...more
I received this book as part of the GoodReads First Read program. Just so you know.

I've never heard of Kate Griffin before, but the premise of this book intrigued me. A self help group for people who are struggling dealing with their magical impulses? Sounds hilarious! And for the most part, it is. The characters who populate the self help group (started on Facebook, by the way, because the book only mentions that every other page) are, for the most part, genius, and are fully formed with differ...more
This was an enjoyable read. The magical London world of Matthew Swift is greatly expanded with this book and we get a new lead character, Sharon Li an untrained shaman who is about to find that she and her magical self-help group may be the only thing standing between the city soul being destroyed. Matthew Swift does appear in this book but he is only a secondary character in a cast of magical eccentrics. Time-wise this book takes place after the events in The Minority Council A second book in t...more
Finding yourself can be hard enough for any person, without magical "extras" making you feel all the more isolated and alone. Kate Griffin puts the epic and the mundane side by side in STRAY SOULS. As Sharon's support group gropes for connection in a crumbling city, a terrible magic is killing those around them.

Unfortunately, it was just this snapshot writing style that made it hard for me to get into STRAY SOULS. 100 pages in, Sharon was still a cypher and I resented only getting spare glimpse...more
The tale being told is reasonably straightforward -- mysterious mystical dangerous haunts London; clueless, recently-turned-magical woman is tapped to solve it with the help of her Facebook group, a self-help group for discontented out-of-place magicals.

The story itself is nothing like straightforward. It jumps right in with its disjointed style -- short chapters, most a little scenelet that either provides information or slyly advances the plot in between the whole of the story itself. Ferretti...more
Fantasy Literature
I am a big fan of Kate Griffin’s MATTHEW SWIFT books. I think her love of London; the majestic, the beautiful, the historic, the grungy, the run-down and the shoddy, powers those books, as does a system of magic that grown organically from the city (or, as Swift puts it, “Life is magic.”) With Stray Souls, Griffin introduces another character and what appears to second series set in the same magical universe; the MAGICALS ANONYMOUS series.

Sharon Li is twenty-two. She is a barista in a coffee sho...more
Selina Lock
Sharon Li works at a coffee shop and has read far too many self-help books. She has one moment of perfect communion with the city of London, but doesn't realise that this, along with her randomly becoming invisible, means she's a shaman. She starts a Magical Anonymous group to find others having weird magical problems... and this band of misfits find themselves in a struggle to save the soul of the city.

I tried Griffin's first book in the Matthew Swift series, but not got very far into it. This...more
Kevin Mantle
I really enjoy the Matthew Swift series of books, currently the best of the contemporary urban fantasy set in London. However, this is bit of a misstep. Kate has shown that she has powerful descriptive prose, a great Love of London and an original protagonist in Matthew Swift; unfortunately this is lacking in Stray Souls. Although still good, it's let down by a use of short chapters and the inclusion of humorous characters, which are not. Also, Welsh people don't constantly put 'see' into every...more
"He realises that he repents. Fear can do that when guilt fails. And he has plenty of fear."

"I do not believe that I have a problem as such. I am a banshee and being a banshee is all I know, so to suggest that I struggle with this identity is to imply that I either do not know myself or that I have awareness of another way of being, neither of which is believe to be the case. Problem is therefore a negative understanding..."

"My clan said that getting the chameleon spell, trying to live with huma...more
Michael Sentman
I really enjoyed this book. While I do think the target audience is more the young female demographic, I found most of the characters easy to relate to and even though this is based in the same world as other books that I have not read, it was not too difficult to understand.

I found a bit of Douglas Adams in Kate Griffin's writing; not just the British accent but the "sorry for the inconvenience" bit as the lead character Sharon Li is somewhat like Arthur Dent, being carried by the current on t...more
Interesting book, albeit a little weird.

A little uneven in places, but certainly sets up the characters for future adventures that will hopefully be a smoother read.
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Should I start with this? 4 5 Aug 02, 2014 08:18AM  
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Kate Griffin is the pen name under which Catherine Webb writes fantasy novels for adults.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
More about Kate Griffin...
A Madness of Angels (Matthew Swift, #1) The Midnight Mayor (Matthew Swift, #2) The Neon Court (Matthew Swift, #3) The Minority Council (Matthew Swift, #4) The Glass God (Magicals Anonymous, #2)

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“The word spread.
It began with the techno-literates: young summoners who couldn’t quite get their containment circles right and who had fallen back on Facebook to keep themselves occupied while the sacred incense was cooked in their mum’s microwaves; eager diviners who scoured the internet for clues as to the future of tomorrow, and who read the truth of things in the static at the corners of the screen; bored vampires who knew that it was too early to go out and hunt, too late still to be in the coffin. The message was tweeted and texted onwards, sent out through the busy wires of the city, from laptop to PC, PC to Mac, from mobile phones the size of old breeze blocks through to palm-held devices that not only received your mail, but regarded it as their privilege to sort it into colour-coordinated categories for your consideration. The word was whispered between the statues that sat on the imperial buildings of Kingsway, carried in the scuttling of the rats beneath the city streets, flashed from TV screen to TV screen in the flickering windows of the shuttered electronics stores, watched over by beggars and security cameras, and the message said:
We are Magicals Anonymous.
We are going to save the city.”
“Some might question why the Midnight Mayor, usually to be found on such nights prowling the streets of the city, was sighted sneaking into a telephone exchange a few minutes before the word began to spill across the streets, spreading outwards from the website of Magicals Anonymous. Some might wonder why one or two computers, having received their messages, exploded three minutes after. But, as the Midnight Mayor was the first to point out, all this was speculation. Nothing could be blamed on him.” 1 likes
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