I really wish I could write a 5 star review for this book. Honest to God, A Madness of Angels has one of the most creative, mind-blowing universes I've ever read - filled with monsters and magic that are unfamiliar yet instantly recognisable. Yet, its' length and dense writing made A Madness of Angels a difficult book to finish. Even though I loved it, I could only read 4-5 pages at a time - it took me 4 months to finish! There is just so much to absorb in every line, and there are many many many lines.
Griffin created a lead character with a hell of a wit. Matthew Swift is king of the one-liners. Even though I never became emotionally invested in any of the characters, I truly enjoyed their banter. I was constantly jotting down lines to remember and reuse!
What impressed me the most was the way Griffin wrote about London. Griffin understands London in a way that few do: the social structures, the transport system, the bizarre Londonite habits, the cities-within-the-city. And she takes "urban magic" into every inch of London - from Oyster cards to Muswell Hill, even the smallest urban habit makes up the magic of London. It's fan-bloody-tastic. I picked this book up right when I moved away from the city, and every paragraph was like a trip home. Griffin set battle scenes in streets, restaurants and tube stations I knew backwards - it will be hard for me to go back without seeing Griffin's urban magic in the air. If you want to know London - and it's unique brand of magic - this is the book for you.
But as I mentioned, the characters in A Madness of Angels were rather... unfulfilling. I never particularly cared whether anyone lived or died, I never particularly hated the "villians", and I never really bonded with any of the "heros". You don't have to like characters in order to enjoy a book, but they do need to strike some sort of emotion within you.... even if it is utter loathing! I never got there with A Madness of Angels, and it made the numerous climatic scenes rather anti-climatic.
Bottom line? Griffin puts the urban into urban fantasy. A Madness of Angels has the most imaginative writing/setting/characters I have read in a long time - although it's not the most emotionally engaging work out there. This book is a masterwork - and as dense as an epic too.