Stray Souls (Magicals Anonymous #1) by Kate Griffin
'Don’t look back. It wants you to look back.’
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 answers – from the
Midnight Mayor to Sharon’s magically-challenged self-help group – she
doesn’t have a clue where to start.
But with London’s soul
missing and the Gate open, there are creatures loose that won’t wait for
her to catch up before they go hunting.
Stray Souls is the first novel in the Magicals Anonymous series, set in the same fantastical London as the Matthew Swift novels.
It should be pointed out there is a lot of swearing in this book, it is not suitable for younger readers or anyone who is offended by such things.
I must admit, it took me a while to get used to the unusual writing style of this novel and early on I found myself wondering how hard it was going to be to finish this one. I shouldn’t have worried as once I had become used to the writing I really enjoyed this book.
The first unusual thing about the writing was that even though it is written in third person, the way it is written it almost feels like it has been written in first person and the author just changed all the instances of I to he/she. It made it sound like a crazy diva who talks about themselves in third person.
The thought patterns of the characters and how the pauses in action were broken up were written in a very strange way. The thoughts would often stop halfway through if the person became distracted, and if something interrupted some action the sentence would end without any punctuation and carry on in the next paragraph. At first I was very distracted by this, and found myself thinking about the writing style and was taken out of the story. Once I became more familiar with it, I actually found it to work well.
The chapters tended to be very short (about four pages long on average). The point of view often changed with the chapters and this did sometimes lead to a very stop-start style in the story. Quite often there would be a chapter following the main character, then a short chapter where one of the other characters tells you about themselves and then the story returns to the main character and follows her around again. Early on I thought this really slowed down the pacing of the story and I found myself wishing it would just get back to continuing the story. But later on it worked really well as it gave great insights into the many characters, and usually at a time that is appropriate to reveal something about that person.
The characters are fantastic and reminded me a lot of something written by Terry Pratchett. There are some great ideas that are well executed, there’s a germaphobic vampire, a druid with allergies, a werepigeons (yes pigeons, plural), a troll who doesn’t like violence and a shaman who doesn’t know how to be a shaman to name a few. They were very real, humorous in their odd ways, awkward and would act like people in real life. E.g. rather than being heroic and wanting to go on a quest they would be reluctant and only do it because they had to.
They writing style and language is very British, I am originally from England so didn’t have a problem but if you are not familiar with some of the British terms you may have troubles understanding what the characters are saying at times.
<spoiler>The ending reminded me of Bladerunner, in that the main evil character who we have been hating the whole time gives one small speech and I found myself feeling pity and compassion for them. </spoiler>
Overall I would say it took a while to get used to the usual writing style but once I did it turned out to be an excellent story with fantastic characters and well worth reading.