Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Neon Court The Neon Court
by Kate Griffin

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

The Neon Court is the third book in an intriguing series, by Kate Griffin (a.k.a Catherine Webb), about sorcerer Matthew Swift. Intriguing? Because each book has been stylistically different: both in terms of prose and in terms of the themes explored; and as Ms Griffin hits her straps as an author the books are getting shorter and more focused. Question for the reader of this review: how many authors’ books get slimmer as they advance their stories into a series?

In the first two books in this series, A Madness of Angels and The Midnight Mayor, Ms Griffin set up the theory and practice of magic in London; the divisions and feuds between the magic fiefdoms; and the story of Matthew Swift. And naturally, in The Neon Court Swift has another crisis to deal with in the form of Blackout, the personification of the fear borne of night, plus a simmering feud of fiefdoms set to become full on war.

Whereas the previous books were the magic first and personalities second The Neon Court is personalities and story first with the magic a distant third. Befitting the authorial change in focus the narrative style has changed from the gritty, descriptive mode of the Angels and Mayor to a dialogue laden, black humour rich, world-weary jaded cynicism – which works marvellously as Swift struggles to stay awake during the long night that Blackout has induced – reminiscent of British detective shows such as New Tricks and The Beiderbecke Trilogy.

For the reader unfamiliar with Ms Griffin’s other works The Neon Court is a very good place to start. The back story is artfully interwoven into the narrative without distracting from the current story. This is urban fantasy before the street-sweepers have come with a hero who knows the corruption that power can bring and the dangers of wielding it. Yes, I more than liked this book because I now have an author whose works are now on my must buy list – which may seriously compromise the impartiality of my next review, but that’s a risk I’m prepared to face.

SFFANZ is a non-profit organisation and registered charity
designed to bring together fans of the fantastic in New Zealand

Contact us by email at: