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Stray Souls

(Magicals Anonymous #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,846 ratings  ·  246 reviews
'Don’t look back. It wants you to look back.’

London’s soul has gone missing. Lost? Kidnapped? Murdered? Nobody knows – but when Sharon Li unexpectedly discovers she’s a shaman, she is immediately called upon to use her newfound powers of oneness with the City to rescue it from a slow but inevitable demise.

The problem is, while everyone expects Sharon to have all the answer
Paperback, 464 pages
Published October 30th 2012 by Orbit (first published October 25th 2012)
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Oliver Desbruslais Best to read them in publication order, as you're introduced to the world and ideas better. Also, Matthew Swift — I think — is generally considered a…moreBest to read them in publication order, as you're introduced to the world and ideas better. Also, Matthew Swift — I think — is generally considered a better series.

That said, I've only just started reading this book so what do I know. (less)

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3.87  · 
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 ·  1,846 ratings  ·  246 reviews

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No doubt about it, Stray Souls was a fun, fast but dense 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.

Sharon is working as a coffee barista at a job she rather hates. She's been making do, sharing a flat with two roommates and reading self-help books for encouragement. Mantra of choice: "I am beautiful. I am wonderful. I have a secret."
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)

DNF at 45%

Oh crap. I'd completely forgotten I was reading this book. I seem to remember it was slightly boring in a cure-for-insomnia kind of way. Which is why I put it on hold to finish Seven Forges. Then Magic Binds happened. Then then, The Tower of Fear happened. Then then then, The Castle Doctrine happened. Then then then then, Full Metal Magic and Dirty Magic happened. And this, my Little Barnacles, is how this extraordinarily entertaining piece of literature escaped my usually fail-proof
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
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 23, 2015 rated it liked it
The actual story of what was going wrong and why, along with what they were going to do about it was interesting. I also liked seeing someone dealing with developing a magical ability, whereas in the Matthew Swift books, he was an established sorcerer and I don't remember it addressing that. What I really did not like, and what may end up pushing this into two stars in the end, was the characters. I think the author was aiming for Quirky and Eccentric and instead nailed Neurotic and Annoying. I ...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
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Katelyn (Lost as Alice, Mad as the Hatter)
I read it, albiet slowly. I picked it up. I put it down. I stared at it awhile. I flipped it upside down. I poked it with a stick. And still, after all that, I do not understand the hype.

Final Verdict: Yawn-A-Minute plotline interspersed with moments of Stark Confusion

Was this a self help book for weirdos everywhere? Was this a story of a manical evil sucking the soul of a city dry? Was this a book about a coming of age shaman with an impossible task? Eh...good question.

Okay. Here is the ski
Christal (Badass Book Reviews)
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
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
Ade Couper
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dave Higgins
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 16, 2013 added it
Shelves: in-library
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
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
E.J. Frost
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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.
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
4.5 Stars

Stray Souls is the first book in the Magicals Anonymous series by Kate Griffin is a fantastic piece of Urban Fantasy. Sure it doesn't hurt that this take place in the world of Matthew Swift, A Madness of Angels is one of my all time favorite books.

This is a fun and fast paced piece of urban fantasy. If you are a fan of Kate Griffin you know what to expect from her amazing and unique writing style. She is a story teller that has a lyrical and often poetic writing style that I cannot get
Robert Behrens
May 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
I hated this book. it was so badly written that I got a headache trying to figure out what the author was trying to say. maybe is because I never her other book but after reading this one I will never read another Kate Griffin book.
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
Dec 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Ok, this is the first book of a possible series? that comes as a spin off from Kate Griffins Matthew Swift series and is set in the same universe and location.

Our main character for this book rather than being some super being of unimaginable power right from the off, or from even being your usual confident main character in general. Sharon Li is a low confidence, self help group attending, self help book reading, coffee shop worker, who has recently realised she can walk through walls. Her resp
All Things Urban Fantasy
Defining your identity 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 bumbles through their neurosis 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
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
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Aspen Junge
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
A bit Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, with fewer small children and more f-bombs. Sharon, a twenty-something barista of Chinese heritage with blue hair and an addiction to self-help books, who is also a shaman and not entirely thrilled about it, is exactly the protagonist I never knew I needed. Terry Pratchett is clearly a huge influence on this author - a ridiculously prolific and talented barely-30-year-old with three heads, at least two of which are brilli ...more
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Should I start with this? 4 8 Aug 02, 2014 08:18AM  

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See similar books…
Kate Griffin is the pen name under which Catherine Webb writes fantasy novels for adults. She also uses the pen name Claire North.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Other books in the series

Magicals Anonymous (2 books)
  • The Glass God (Magicals Anonymous, #2)
“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.” 4 likes
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