This is the second book in Kate Griffin’s Magicals Anonymous series. Does it have the energy and humour that characterised the first book, Stray Souls?
Sharon Li: apprentice shaman and community support officer for the magically inclined. It wasn’t the career Sharon had in mind, but she’s getting used to running Magicals Anonymous and learning how to Be One With The City. When the Midnight Mayor goes missing, leaving only a suspiciously innocent-looking umbrella behind him, Sharon finds herself promoted. Her first task: find the Midnight Mayor. The only clues she has are a city dryad’s cryptic warning and several pairs of abandoned shoes… Suddenly, Sharon’s job feels a whole lot harder.
So that’s the blurb – and well done Orbit for managing to produce a snappy, inviting teaser that avoids lurching into spoiler territory. While the action and viewpoint revolve around Sharon, she is assisted in her quest by the cast of characters that I so thoroughly enjoyed in Stray Souls. While I have warmed to Rhys, my standout favourite is Sammy the goblin, who is also Sharon’s shaman tutor and is to teaching what a housebrick is to flying – he calls Sharon ‘Soggy Brains’.
Sharon’s determinedly fair-minded and positive stance is given a major workout as she comes up against a number of unpleasant nasties in her pursuit of the Midnight Mayor. Having by now got used to Griffin’s humour, I was struck this time around at how the grim backdrop that took such a starring role in the Matthew Swift series is still very much in evidence. Griffin hasn’t eased up one jot on some of the more revolting corners of London, as the story rolls forward with all the energy and slickness we’ve come to expect from this author. We find ourselves laughing as some of the macabre violence teeters into farce, often as members of the Magicals Anonymous attempt to live up to the high ideals set by Sharon, or in the case of Kevin, the OCD vampire, invariably manage to put their foot in their mouths.
We also have a few new characters to enjoy – chiefly, Miles’ the minion. Inevitably, the baddies are hugely powerful and as Sharon finds herself working against the clock in an effort to save London, the increasing tension and climactic set piece in a famous London landmark is suitably impressive. And as Griffin has shown in the past that she is capable of offing a major character, I was holding my breath in case one of my favourites – Sammy, for instance – was a casualty in the cause of keeping London safe.
Griffin’s success in making her antagonist lethal, unpleasant and yet also poignantly damaged is one of the many reasons why The Glass God serves to reinforce Griffin’s reputation as one of the best urban fantasy writers in the world.