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We be light, we be life, we be fire
—Anonymous spam mail, source unknown
They begin with urban sorcerer Matthew Swift waking up mysteriously in a house he used to own, two years after his violent death, with different-colored eyes and an internal narrative that thinks of himself as "we" about half the time.
The novels include:
- A Madness of Angels, or, The Resurrection of Matthew Swift (2009)
- The Midnight Mayor, or, The Inauguration of Matthew Swift (2010)
- The Neon Court, or, The Betrayal of Matthew Swift (2011)
- The Minority Council (2012)
Tropes featured include:
- A God I Am Not: Matthew, post resurrection.
- Action Girl: Oda, Penny, Vera, Dees.
- Affably Evil: Robert Bakker.
- Animorphism: Charlie.
- Anyone Can Die
- Anthropomorphic Personification:
- The Death of Cities from The Midnight Mayor is a relatively straightforward example.
- Matthew himself is a slightly more complex example; as of the end of the second book he arguably personifies both the city of London and telephony.
- Also The Bag Lady, The Beggar King and Fat Rat who all embody various aspects of urban life.
- Lady Neon is implied to have some characteristics of this as well, specifically unattainable, unrealistic glamour.
- Arc Words: "Give me back my hat!" in The Midnight Mayor
- For the whole series, "Come be we and be free" and "Make me a shadow on the wall".
- Art Attacker: The White Clan.
- Art Initiates Life: During the battle against Lee, the paintings on the walls came to life and fight.
- Awesome McCoolname: The bikers tend to change their names: Dave to Blackjack; Laslie to Halfburn. Also, Jeremy the Troll wants to be called the Mighty Raaaarrggh!.
- Back From the Dead: Matthew Swift, who quickly tires of explaining why he isn't dead and eventually just answers "I got better."
- Backstory: How Matthew met Bakker, how Matthew met Dana, how Oda became part of the Order, how Blackout was defeated...
- Badass Adorable: Matthew: channeling beings of pure energy, and forging alliances eating pancakes and ice-cream.
- Badass Biker: The Bikers.
- Badass Boast: The Midnight Mayor has a couple of these:
"I was the apprentice of Robert James Bakker. I'm sure you've heard of him. I am a sorcerer. I was there when Bakker died. We... made it happen. I too have met death, and did not have to peel the bones away from my chest to survive the encounter. I am also, and incidentally, the Midnight Mayor, the blue electric angels, the fire in the wire, the song in the telephones, and we are having a bad week. Be smart; fear us."
- In The Neon Court too:
"We are the Midnight Mayor, protector of this city, carrier of its secrets and bearer of its shadows. The shadows watch us as we pass, the pigeons turn away at our passage, the rats scurry beneath our feet and shudder at the sound of our footsteps on the stones. We are the blue electric angels, the telephones sing at the passage of our voice, our blood is blue fire, our soul carries a pair of angel wings. We are the killer of Robert Bakker, sorcerer, master of the Tower; we destroyed the death of cities; we came back from the dead, Swift and the angels, two minds became one, two souls in one flash, in one form, in one voice. We are me and I am we. And we're frustrated."
- And The Minority Council:
"My name is Matthew Swift. I"m a sorcerer, the only one in the city who survived Robert Bakker's purge. I was killed by my teacher's shadow and my body dissolved into telephone static and all they had left to bury was a bit to blood. Then we came back, and I am we and we are me, and we are the blue electric angels, creatures of the phones and the wires, the gods made from surplus life you miserable excuse for mortals pour into all things electric. I am the Midnight Mayor,the protector of the city, the guardian of the night, the keeper of the gates, the watcher on the walls. We turned back the death of cities, we were there when Lady Neon died, we drove the creature called Blackout into the shadows at the end of the alleys, we are light, we are life, we are fire and, would you believe it, the word that best describes our condition right now is cranky. Would you like to see what happens when you make us mad?"
- Badass Longcoat: Matthew wears one in A Madness of Angels.
- Badass Normal: Oda.
- Barbarian Tribe: The Tribe.
- Battle Butler: Charlie to Sinclair.
- Big Brother Mentor: Matthew to Dana and Penny.
- Big Damn Heroes: The Bag Lady and later Oda in A Madness of Angels; Penny in The Neon Court.
- Black and Grey Morality
- Blood Magic
- Break the Haughty: Oda: her backstory is a Break the Cutie reaching Despair Event Horizon, with her older brother killing their little sister. She becomes part of the Order and devotes her life to it. She uses magic once, to save her (and Matthew's) life and basically has an Heroic BSOD. She finds out her little sister was alive all along but the Order had lied to her to make her their weapon, and that her sister is The Chosen One. When she refuses to kill the kid the Orders kills her, forcing Oda over her Despair Event Horizon again and ultimately resulting in her being possessed by by Blackout. Then Matthew doesn't kill her, which indirectly causes her sister to be Killed Off for Real. In the end she is utterly broken and just wants to die.
- Broken Bird: Oda.
- Bullying a Dragon: Played straigh with Chaigneau, who had the brilliant idea of kidnapping Matthew, beat the crap out of him and blackmailing him (yes, the guy who happens to be a sorcerer and to channel beings of pure energy. It's not like he can curse him). Averted with Matthew: people consider his plans to destroy the Tower Bullying a Dragon, while Matthew knows he can do it.
- Came Back Strong: Matthew. Not that Matthew Swift the brown-eyed sorcerer was a weakling, but Matthew Swift the blue-eyed sorcerer-possessed-by-angels is something else again.
- Came Back Wrong: Oda in The Neon Court.
- Cassandra Truth: Khan told Matthew he was going to die, but Matthew didn't believe him. To be fair the prophecy was "You're... gonna die. It's after when it gets complicated."
- The Chosen One: Subverted so very hard.
- Chekhov's Gun: The last breath's power, nominated in A Madness of Angels, became important in The Neon Court.
- Church Militant: Oda. And Chaigneau. The whole Order, actually.
- Cloudcuckoolander: The Angels in the first book are drunk on life. When Mathew decides to take a day off from slowly but surely destroying the Tower, he lets the Angels go to a movie theater, play on a kids playground, and eat ice cream, all to their amazement and extreme pleasure. The (very) few times Mathew and them do (very subtly) disagree on something, it's usually a throwaway line along the lines of "We wanted to -insert doing something not particularly appropriate to the situation at hand- but I didn't think it was the time."
- Matthew's grandmother, but we don't know how much of it it's Obfuscating Stupidity.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Penny is apparently unable to form a sentence without swearing. To a lesser extent Jeremy the Troll.
- Contemplative Boss: Robert Bakker.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Mr Pinner skins you alive with paper.
- Dead All Along: Guy Lee.
- Dead Little Sister: What drives Oda. Turns out to be Not Quite Dead.
- Dead Person Conversation: in the third book, with Bakker, though it's unclear how much of it is really him and how much is just a projection of Matthew's mind. Also counts as a Spirit Advisor.
- Deadly Decadent Court: The Neon Court.
- Deadpan Snarker: It's a world full of them.
- Demonic Possession: Bakker claims this is what happened to Matthew after his death.
- Disappeared Dad: Matthew talks about his mother and grandmother, but never says a word about his father.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: In The Midnight Mayor Penny accidentally summoned the Death of Cities because she was pissed.
- Dramatic Irony: Matthew was killed because he didn't want to drag the blue electric angels into this world, and ends up sharing a body with them.
- Dressed to Heal: Justified as Matthew, when injured, goes (or is taken) to hospital.
- Either or Title
- Eldritch Abomination: Both Blackout and Mr Pinner.
- Enemy Without: Hunger is Bakker's Enemy Without.
- Energy Beings: What the Angels were before Mathew's resurrection.
- Evil Mentor: Bakker is this to Dana Mikeda.
- The Fair Folk: An updated version with the Neon Court.
- Fight Clubbing: The Pit in A Madness of Angels.
- First-Episode Resurrection
- Five-Bad Band: The Tower.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Jeremy the Troll.
- French Jerk: Anton Chaigneau.
- Go Out with a Smile: Vera
- Golem: The Litterbug sent after Matthew in the first book is a golem made of garbage and refuse.
- Gotta Kill Them All: The plot of A Madness of Angels.
- The Hecate Sisters
- Humanoid Abomination: Hunger; spectres; Blackout.
- I Am Legion: The blue electric angels.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The second half of each book's Either or Title takes the form "The [something] of Matthew Swift".
- Implausible Deniability: Robert Bakker, all the time.
- Ironic Echo: "Necessary things."
- It Runs in The Family: Magic. Matthew's mother and grandmother have it too, though different and they're both untrained.
- It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Matthew and JG
- Jerkass Has a Point: Chaigneau, on the dangerousness of the angels.
Chaigneau: You... blue eletric angels... you are children with the power to kill, destroy and burn. You know nothing about life, its rules, norms, laws and understanding, and probably care less. Why should you not set the field of fire for the prettiness of its burning; why should you not kill wherever you go, simply because you can; why should you understand anything that the rest of humanity can?
- Knowledge Broker: Sinclair.
- Lightning Bruiser: San Khay, thanks to magic.
- Living Memory: Bakker, in The Neon Court
- The London Underground
- Mage Tower: Referenced in A Madness of Angels -- Bakker's organization is called the Tower.
- Magical Society: Several.
- May-December Romance: Implied between Matthew and Elizabeth Bakker, by Vera.
- Man Child: Matthew became one, 'cause the angels are, basically, children.
- Manly Gay: San Khay
- Master Apprentice Chain: Bakker trains Matthew, who trains Dana and eventually Penny.
- The Medic: Dr. Seah.
- The Mole: Blackjack in A Madness of Angels.
- Mole in Charge: Apparently Sinclair is one to the Order.
- Moral Event Horizon: To everyone, Bakker crossed the line by killing those against him. For Matthew, he crossed it when he burnt his own sister and left her crazy.
- Moral Myopia: Everyone.
- Morality Pet: Some characters imply that Matthew is one to the blue electric angels.
Vera: God, if there wasn't a fucking sorcerer still in that skin, they'd have ripped the city apart just for kicks.
- Multiple Narrative Modes: Matthew uses "I" as a narrative pronoun; the angels use "we".
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Hunger; Death of Cities; Blackout.
- Necromancer: A few pop up. Their MO is that they tend to try their hand at immortality by swallowing papers with the traits they wish they had in a Golem-esqe way. They die as soon as the paper is taken out, but it in the meantime, they "live" exactly to the constraints of the paper (meaning if you forget to, say, write down that you still want to see colors or actually feel things, you're life undead won't be very pleasant).
- Never Found the Body: After Matthew died, his body disappeared; he was only known to be dead because his coat was found in a giant puddle of his blood. It turned out that his body had been absorbed along with his soul by the blue electric angels, making his/their later resurrection possible.
- Never Mess with Granny: The Bag Lady. Just leave her alone, really.
- No Man Should Have This Power: This is what the Order thinks about magic. It's also what most people think about the angels.
- No Sense of Humor: Oda, Charlie, Jean the nurse.
- Not So Abandoned Building: The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital for Women seems abandoned, but it's the hospital for magicians.
- Occult Blue Eyes: Matthew, post-resurrection
- Our Angels Are Different
- Our Fairies Are Different: The Neon Court
- Papa Wolf: Matthew is very protective of his apprentices.
- Parental Substitute: Bakker to Matthew, which make what happened between them even worse.
- Permanent Elected Official: Vera, to the White.
Vera: It's generally accepted that if there was an election, I'd win. So I figured - why bother?
- Post-Modern Magik: Used extensively. For instance, the greatest talisman an urban sorcerer can carry is a subway farecard.
- The Power of Friendship: The Blackout hosts weren't able to kill their only friends.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Quite a few of the more clandestine services offered by the Tower are like this, including San Khay's offered "experience of a dying addict's final high."
- Power Source: Cities, for urban magicians: take one of them to the country and his powers will be severely weakened, or nullified.
- Power Tattoo: San Khay's magical tattoos, which afford him considerable stamina.
- Present Day
- Prophetic Fallacy: In The Neon Court the prophecy turns out to be entirely fabricated as part of an elaborate The Plan to create a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The angels give an epic one to Bakker, mixed with Calling the Old Man Out from Matthew's side.
- Mathew also gives a pretty spectacular one to Oda at the end of "Midnight Mayer about why he won't kill Penny.
- La Résistance: The concerned citizens in A Madness of Angels.
- The Reveal: Dana Mikeda brought Matthew back to life.
- Sacrificial Lion: Vera.
- Seers: There are a few.
- Sharing a Body: Matthew and the blue electric angels.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: By the third book, some characters believe that Matthew is suffering from PTSD.
- Straight Edge Evil: San Khay, who lives a fiercely regimented lifestyle, exercises hard, always eats healthily, and never partakes in smoking or drugs. However, his well-planned routine does permit him a one-night-stand every week...
- Stranger in a Familiar Land: Matthew after his resurrection.
- Someone Has to Do It: The Midnight Mayor
- Switching POV: A slightly odd example. Everything seemingly takes place from Matthew's perspective; however, the narrative switches back and forth between "I" and "we" to signal the distinction between the thoughts of Matthew and the blue electric angels who are possessing him. (Though they rarely if ever seem to disagree on anything.)
- Tranquil Fury
- Un-Equal Rites: Though wizards (who control magic through rules) and sorcerers (who draw on raw magical power) get along reasonably well, they both have very little respect for warlocks, who earn magical powers by bargaining with the various spirits in the area.
- Unexpected Successor: Matthew wasn't even in line to became the next Midnight Mayor.
- Urban Fantasy
- What the Hell, Hero?: In A Madness of Angels Matthew gets a few of this about the casualties his revenge is going to cause.
- Who Dunnit to Me?: The plot of the first book has aspects of this, though Matthew figures out the "who" pretty quickly and moves on to "how", "why", and "what can I do to get revenge".
- Willing Channeler: Both Matthew and the angels are perfectly content to share a body, though the original combination was largely accidental.
- Wound That Will Not Heal: Matthew suffers minor injuries by Hunger, and the wounds keep bleeding until he goes to the magical hospital.
- X Marks the Hero: The Midnight Mayor always has two cross carved in the palm of his hand.
- X Meets Y: In universe Matthew is described with these words: "The Swift-angel creature, while appearing almost entirely human, is at its core a combination of a traumatised dead sorcerer and infantile fire."