Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stray Souls by Kate Griffin

 Though I haven't read any of his stuff in ages, I really enjoyed Terry Pratchett's Discworld stories, and that's probably what this novel by Griffin reminds me of the most strongly. A very quirky, and British, sense of humor gets this novel off to an amusing start, when Sharon Li, a novice shaman decides to form a Facebook group called Magicals Anonymous, and holds their first meeting in a community center in London.

Some of the attendees include an OCD vampire with germophobia, a necromancer with a skin condition and a druid with allergies, who couldn't handle the herbs and potions - failed his exams. Grendel the troll loves ethnic cuisine and a banshee named Sally wants to broaden her horizons taking community college courses in modern art. We also have were-pigeons. Sharon's mentor is Sammy the Elbow, a profanity spewing goblin.

It's difficult to sustain humor throughout an entire novel, but Griffin gives it a good try. Along the way, however, she builds an interesting new mythos surrounding and infusing the city of London, where the spirits of the past are often more real than the commuter at your elbow. This isn't your ordinary action-packed urban fantasy novel with a hack and slash tomboy heroine. When Sharon and her friends are called on to dispatch the villains of the story, their approaches are, to say the least, innovative.

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