Wealhtheow's Reviews > The Neon Court

The Neon Court by Kate Griffin
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's review
Apr 03, 12

bookshelves: fantasy, feypunk, pocmaincharacters, urban-fantasy
Recommended for: fans of Night Watch or Neverwhere
Read from April 02 to 03, 2012

Matthew Swift was a sorcerer's apprentice, but he died.

Then he came back.

Now Matthew Swift is the Midnight Mayor, with responsibility for all of London. So when a mystical war threatens between the Neon Court (the fairy court, transformed by the modern age, who prize beauty over truth and style over freedom) and the Tribe (self-mutilating transhumanists whose magic derives only from themselves), he has to deal with it. And when a "chosen one" is prophecied, he has to find her, no matter how silly he thinks the concept. And when the sun goes out, and London is cut off from the rest of the world, it's up to Matthew Swift to find out why.

The magic system is breathtakingly inventive. Swift is a city sorcerer, meaning he draws his magics from the rules and legends of London. He draws acid from rain and coalesces it into an attack; he transforms a discarded plastic bag into a flying eagle; he traps monsters on street corners with the rules of the crosswalk. The magic surprises me every time. But there's logic to it, a certain internal consistency that holds it back from just doing whatever would be most convenient for the story.

The characters are pretty fab, too. Matthew, whose idea of diplomacy is to let someone beat him up for a while. Oda, a modern-day palidan. Penny, a sorceress so powerful that she nearly accidentally destroyed the city, who is nevertheless too scared of her aunt to let anyone bleed on her aunt's car. Dees, a financial planner who wears uncomfortable heels and transforms into a metal dragon if threatened.

But truthfully, this just isn't quite as incredibly excellent as the first two books in the series. Most of my disappointment is because Oda (view spoiler) My other problem is that, after all the desperate last stands and clever magic fueled by fairy-tale logic (all of which is stone-cold awesome), the last chapter is Matthew explaining the whole plot to someone. A disappointing end!

I think my standards were just too high for this book. Still, this remains the most entrancing, enthralling urban fantasy series I've ever read. It's both funny and grim, unpretentious but with a lot to say.
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Reading Progress

04/03/2012 page 72
14.0% "'I have beautiful eyes.' 'I can't say I ever really looked.' 'Thank you for your lack of interest.' 'Mr.Swift, if it's any comfort to you, I can promise that were I not a happily married woman with a husband I love well,' sighed Dees, 'you would definitely be in my top two genders of choice.'"
04/03/2012 page 130
25.0% "I said,'Penny, please assure me that the owner of this voice strikes you as being a qualified professional.'
Another long, peculiar silence. Then,'Yeah. Yeah, that's exactly what she looks like. Like totally.'"
04/03/2012 page 130
25.0% "'You know, I think I've treated you before,'said the voice. 'If your eyes weren't like, sorta totally full of blood and stuff, I'd definitely say that you looked familiar. You're not the guy who keeps getting beaten up by inexplicable mystic darknesses, are you?'
'Oh!That's him!'exclaimed Penny. 'That's totally him!'
'Hey!'A fist punched me affectionately in the shoulder."
04/03/2012 page 512
100.0% "After reading so many peons to custard creams in British lit, I've finally looked them up. I assumed they were little cakes with a thick wodge of vanilla cream in the center--like petit fours, but English. But they're just ordinary sandwich cookies! How disappointing! I will never hope again."

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