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Literature / Matthew Swift

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For Matthew Swift, today is not like any other day.

We be light, we be life, we be fire
We sing electric flame, we rumble underground wind
we dance heaven!
Come be we and be free!
We be blue electric angels.
Anonymous spam mail, source unknown

The Matthew Swift novels are an Urban Fantasy series by Kate Griffin (alias Catherine Webb, who also writes under the pseudonym Claire North). The series begins 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.

Every book features Matthew facing off against some seemingly-unbeatable enemy, usually a modern Eldritch Abomination. The series relies heavily on Post-Modern Magik. In this world, life is magic, and magical beings are what happen to all the "leftover life" in a city. This leads to such entities as fairies with tinfoil wings, and a faerie court relying on makeup and Hollywood-style beauty and the blue electric angels, who are the voice in the telephone come to life from humans pouring so much of our emotions into it.

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)

There is also a sequel series taking place after The Minority Council which follows a different protagonist.

Tropes featured include:

  • Action Girl: Oda is probably the biggest in the series, but Penny's level of magical badassery qualifies her as well, plus Vera of the White Clan and the female Aldermen.
  • Affably Evil: Robert Bakker, who continues playing Substitute Dad while killing people. Oscar Kramb, the so-called Fairy Godmother, also qualifies.
  • Afterlife Express: More like Afterlife Bus: the Night Bus collects the spirits of those who died alone in the dark.
  • All Women Love Shoes: Inverted, as women buy more shoes but men emotionally invest in them.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Kayle, Oda's brother: he wanted power, and managed to get the attention of the Midnight Mayor. To the point he sent Aldermen after him, out of London. Bakker, who tried to enslave the blue electric angels to achieve immortality, is a somewhat more subtle example.
  • Animorphism: Charlie. In true Swiftverse fashion, he can turn into several urban animals, including a pigeon and a fox.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification:
    • The Death of Cities from The Midnight Mayor is a relatively straightforward example. Naturally, the Aldermen are hesitant to believe his claim is real.
    • 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.
    • The gods of this world are personifications of urban life and archetypes, including but not limited to The Bag Ladynote , The Beggar King, and Fat Ratnote .
    • Lady Neon is implied to have some characteristics of this as well, specifically unattainable, unrealistic glamour.
  • Antimagical Faction: The Order, to Knight Templar levels.
  • Anyone Can Die: Unless their name is on the cover, they can die. At one point the Beggar King points out to Matthew that he mostly manages to survive by letting everyone else die instead.
  • Arc Words: Every book. Kate Griffin loves these.
    • "Give me back my hat!" in The Midnight Mayor.
    • For the whole series, "Come be we and be free".
    • Whole series, "Domine Dirige Nos" (motto of the City of London).
    • In A Madness of Angels, "Make me a shadow on the wall" and "Give me life!"
    • "Waiting for you at the end of the alley" in the Neon Court.
    • "You can't save everyone" in The Minority Council
  • Art Attacker: The White Clan. They use graffiti for all their magic, including creating painted attack animals that come off the walls and fight for them.
  • Art Initiates Life: During the battle against Lee, the paintings on the walls came to life and fight. We also learn in The Midnight Mayor that Vera is actually made of paint.
  • 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!. He lightly mocks Matthew for having a normal name.
  • 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, who besides being standard bikers with all the implied badass can slip through space to travel huge distances in a blink.
  • 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."
    "We are the blue electric angels! We were born from the leftover breaths of humanity, by the fears and the thoughts and the ideas and the truths and the lies you poured into the telephone lines. We were created by you bigger and brighter and more alive than any mortal could aspire to be! Do not think to tell us what we can or cannot do! Where is her hat?!"
    • 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 of 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 Bureaucrat: The Aldermen, an organization of magic-wielding civil servants. Occasionally, though, their red tape gets in the way of them being really helpful.
  • Badass Longcoat: Matthew wears one, enchanted to make him totally unnoticeable. He gets it in relatively pristine condition in A Madness of Angels; by the end of the series, it's stained and has been mended with red thread, but he still wears it. And of course, it is still just as badass.
  • Badass Normal: Oda, who despite having no magic of her own in any form managed to outlive some of the most powerful people in the series.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Tribe. They mutilate themselves to increase their power.
  • Battle Butler: Charlie to Sinclair.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Kelly
  • 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: With the number of bodies he leaves in his wake and his utter ruthlessness when he dedicates himself to a cause, Matthew would probably the bad guy if his enemies hadn't already well and truly crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Blood Magic: In the first book, Matthew uses his blood to keep Sinclair alive and convinces everyone to sign a blood oath which kills The Mole when he betrays them. And it's an oft-repeated point that the blood of the blue electric angels would go for huge prices on the black market, presumably to cast all kinds of magic.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Templeman to Nabeela.
  • 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 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. See "Break the Haughty" above.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Played straight with Chaigneau, who had the brilliant idea of kidnapping Matthew, beating 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-cum-blue-electric-angels is something else again.
  • Came Back Wrong: Oda in The Neon Court. Many people think this happened to Matthew as well, although he (and the angels) disagree.
  • Captured Super-Entity: What Bakker's original intentions for the Electric Blue Angels was.
  • 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. Matthew makes a pretty big deal about how there's no such thing as a Chosen One, and in fact it was all designed to make the Neon Court and the Tribe wipe each other out.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The last breath's power, nominated in A Madness of Angels, became important in The Neon Court.
  • The Chessmaster: Templeman in The Minority Council..
  • Church Militant: Oda. And Chaigneau. The whole Order, actually.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Spectres can be trapped in a beer bottle because people believe you can drown anything in a beer bottle.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The Angels in the first book are drunk on life. When Matthew 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 Matthew 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."
  • Cool Train: The Last Train, which will never stop and never takes any passengers, unless they already know about it. It also, depending how you look at it, qualifies as Nightmare Fuel.
  • Contemplative Boss: Robert Bakker.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: Hunger. And Matthew himself.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Mr Pinner skins you alive with paper. The ME is baffled as to how someone could apparently get ten thousand paper cuts at once.
  • Dead All Along: Guy Lee.
  • 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.
    • There's also the walk in The Midnight Mayor.
  • Decadent Court: The Neon Court. When people get too old and ugly, they tend to die horribly.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It's a world full of them.
  • Demonic Possession: Bakker claims this is what happened to Matthew after his death. In reality, this is a subversion, since Matthew isn't so much possessed as brain-melded.
  • Department of Child Disservices: Subverted: social services are far from perfect, but Nabeela even goes to the Midnight Mayor to help the kids.
  • Disappeared Dad: Matthew talks about his mother and grandmother, but never says a word about his father.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: What happens to Mo and the other kids in The Midnight Mayor. Generally speaking, stealing someone's hat doesn't warrant dissolving into ink or being torn apart by ten thousand paper cuts.
  • Doctor's Orders: Dr. Seah cheerfully accepts that Matthew probably isn't going to stop showing up broken, bruised, and bleeding on her doorstep, so to make up for it she gives him stern orders to take it easy (which she knows he won't do) and pain meds. Lots of pain meds.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: In The Midnight Mayor Penny accidentally summoned the Death of Cities because she was pissed.
  • Double Agent: Templeman.
  • 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 since Dr. Seah is a doctor working out of what is technically a hospital.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: The angels, while under the influence of fairy dust.
  • Either/Or Title: Until The Minority Council.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Both Blackout and Mr Pinner, who is creatively and accurately called "The Death of Cities".
  • Enemy Without: Hunger to Bakker. Not that Bakker really seems to mind it.
  • Energy Beings: What the Angels were before Matthew's resurrection.
  • Evil Mentor: Bakker is this to Dana Mikeda.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Death of Cities.
    Matthew: On the other side, it might be exactly what it says on the cover. A walking talking thing in a pinstripe suit who is, quite literally, the death of cities.
    • Also the Midnight Mayor, protector of the city. The city, not the citizens.
  • False Friend: Templeman.
  • Fantastic Drug: Fairy dust in Minority Council is a super-addictive drug that enhances the magical talent of the user ten fold. It's also made out of the ashes of previous users, as prolonged use turns you into dust.
  • The Fair Folk: An updated version with the Neon Court.
  • Fight Clubbing: The Pit in A Madness of Angels.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Matthew and Oda zig-zagged it most of the time (mostly because Oda kills sorcerers to make the world a better place) but their friendship is confirmed in The Neon Court, in the most traumatic and heart-breaking way ever.
  • First-Episode Resurrection: With the subtitle The Resurrection of Matthew Swift, how could it be anything else?
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Jeremy the Troll; the Fairy Godmother.
  • French Jerk: Anton Chaigneau.
  • Freaky Is Cool: Penny's reaction to Nabeela's technological medusa hair.
    Penny: That is so totally fucking awesome. I'd, like, kiss her if my heart wasn't already given to a guy called Femi.
    Matthew: You'd kiss Nabeela?
    Penny: Jesus, wouldn't you?
  • A God Am I: The angels, but only while high on fairy dust.
  • A God I Am Not: Matthew, post resurrection. Fortunately for all involved, considering what the angels could do.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Since the current set of urban "gods" are there because people believe in them and pray to them, presumably there were others before. The Neon Court also exists because the old Fair Folk weren't getting the power they needed once life moved to the cities.
  • Golem: The Litterbug sent after Matthew in the first book is a golem made of garbage and refuse.
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: Nabeela in Minority Council. While her grandmother had traditional snakes, she was born with living wires and cameras instead.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: The plot of A Madness of Angels.
  • The Hecate Sisters: The three women with a cauldron. Like everyone else in the world, they've been updated for the modern age; the Maiden now has spiked streaked hair and the cauldron is full of tea.
  • 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".
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: A golem made of spilled trash, against whom a garbage can lid is a shield, is called a litterbug.
  • Interface Screw: While the Angels are high on fairy dust the narrative gets split in a somewhat literal sense.
  • Intoxication Ensues: In Minority Council, while the angels are super charged from the fairy dust and destroying everything in sight, Matthew's narration is him giggling in the back of his head, going off on tangents about furniture and unaware as to what is actually going on.
    The Angels: This is glorious! this is freedom, this is a drug of lava, a pit without end, liquid heaven, this is majestic!
    Matthew So, yes, I think I might be a little stoned. I mean, not in a bad way, just you know... a little bit...
  • Implausible Deniability: Robert Bakker, all the time.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: In The Minority Council, Matthew never said the dead fairy dust junkie was female. One of the people responsible tips his hand by referring to her as "she". It seems minor, but he explains that people, when they don't know the gender of someone they're speaking of, will use "they" or "he or she", or, if they're old-fashioned, default to "he".
  • Insufferable Genius: Alan, the creator of the culicidae in The Minority Council. Snottiest summoner on the face of the planet.
  • Ironic Echo: "Necessary things."
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Matthew and JG. They're both literally chosen, by other humans, since in this world there is no such thing as a cosmic-level chosen one.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Although Matthew and the Angels are normally almost-kind-of-mostly the same person, when they disagree it usually looks like this.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Chaigneau, on the dangerousness of the angels.
    Chaigneau: You... blue electric 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 on 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?
    • In Minority Council we see for the first time what happens when the Angels aren't under Matthew's control any more. It's not pretty.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Angels' basic strategy? Burn it to death.
  • Knowledge Broker: Sinclair.
  • Lightning Bruiser: San Khay, thanks to magic.
  • Living Memory: Bakker, in The Neon Court
  • Mage Species: Magic. Matthew's mother and grandmother have it too, though different and they're both untrained.
  • Mage Tower: Referenced in A Madness of Angels — Bakker's organization is called the Tower.
  • Magical Homeless Person: Anyone in the know about magic can call on anthropomorphic personifications like The Beggar King for magical assistance by invoking him while going through the daily motions of being homeless - panhandling, sleeping rough, etc. The main character does this once early in the first novel when he is technically homeless (using stolen money to stay in hotel rooms) but it is not clear how common this practice is or how many rough sleepers are aware of their patron deities despite the paper thin Masquerade.
  • Magical Society: Several. The Whites, the Neon Court, the Tribe, the Tower...
  • Manchild: Post-resurrection and fusion, the angels' persistent curiosity and childlike nature make Matthew frequently appear to be one of these.
  • Manly Gay: San Khay.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Bakker trains Matthew, who trains Dana and Penny; as of the end of The Minority Council, it's suggested that Penny might be getting an apprentice of her own.
  • May–December Romance: Implied between Matthew and Elizabeth Bakker, by Vera.
  • The Medic: Dr. Seah.
  • Medusa: Nabeela in Minority Council. Running with the series' theme of modernized magic, instead of traditional snakes, she has a headful of living wires and cameras.
  • Mental Fusion: Although people generally assume Matthew is possessed, his relationship with the angels is really closer to this.
  • The Mole: Blackjack in A Madness of Angels.
    • Anissina in The Midnight Mayor.
  • Mole in Charge: Apparently Sinclair is one to the Order.
  • 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.
  • Motive Rant: Anissina in The Midnight Mayor.
  • Motor Mouth: Dr. Seah; Kelly.
  • Multiple Narrative Modes: Matthew uses "I" as a narrative pronoun; the angels use "we".
  • My God What Have We Done: Matthew after the angel's go Ax-Crazy at Kramb's place.
  • 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-esque way. They die as soon as the paper is taken out, but 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, your 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.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Turns out destroying the Tower was this, as Bakker was the only thing keeping Death of Cities away.
    Mr Pinner: When you killed Bakker, you made my life so much easier. I would not have come here had he still be alive. I should thank you for that, sorcerer.
  • 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.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Minority Council.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Aldermen.
  • Occult Blue Eyes: Matthew, post-resurrection. The eyes are actually the angels' (see Our Angels Are Different below).
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The "concerned citizens" from A Madness of Angels know a frankly frightening amount about Bakker's lieutenants, right down to judging San Khay's taste in men, and their name could hardly be vaguer.
  • Our Angels Are Different: The blue electric angels aren't "angels" in any sense we would recognize; rather, they're the product of the life that's been spilled into the phones over the years.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: The Neon Court, who used to be the traditional fair folk but adapted when life moved to the cities and they lost their power.
  • Papa Wolf: Matthew is very protective of his apprentices.
  • Parental Substitute: Bakker to Matthew, which makes what happened between them even worse.
  • Perky Female Minion: Kelly Shiring in The Minority Council is a rare heroic version.
  • 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?
    • Also the Midnight Mayor, despite not being elected. They hold the position until they die.
  • Plucky Girl: Kelly from Minority Council. She manages to greet Matthew with a bright smile no matter how dour his expression.
  • 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." The Fairy Dust from The Minority Council also qualifies, especially Templeman's version.
  • Power Source: Cities, for urban magicians: take one of them to the country and his powers will be severely weakened, or nullified. There are stated to still be rural sorcerers, who are presumably just as useless in a city.
  • Power Tattoo: San Khay's magical tattoos, which afford him considerable stamina. Unfortunately, disrupting the patterns by dousing him with more ink ruins that power.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Averted in The Midnight Mayor, as Matthew delivered one and run away. Given the situation, however, managing to escape alive was a victory.
    Matthew: You missed something. About me.
    Mr Pinner: What was that?
    Matthew: Us.
  • 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
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Nair, the previous Midnight Mayor, was apparently one of these to the point where, even after his death, the Aldermen ultimately decide not to kill Matthew out of sheer respect for Nair's decision.
  • The Reliable One: By the end of The Minority Council, Kelly is somewhere between this and Hypercompetent Sidekick.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Matthew spends most of his time as Midnight Mayor trying really hard to avoid the Aldermen and the Mayor's work. And when he gets involved in something, it's usually not his duty.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The angels give an epic one to Bakker, mixed with Calling the Old Man Out from Matthew's side.
    • Matthew also gives a pretty spectacular one to Oda at the end of The Midnight Mayor 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.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In Minority Council, Matthew and the angels go on an epic killing spree under the influence of fairy dust.
  • Run or Die: "Take it from a guy who knows about implausible danger: nothing beats running away."
  • Sacrificial Lion: Vera.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Matthew, all the time. It leads to a lot of clashes between him and the Aldermen.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: How Matthew deals with spectres. Turns out you really can drown anything at the bottom of a beer bottle—or at least, enough people think you can that there's truth to it.
  • Seers: Urban oracles tend to work with such things as the pattern of a shopping bag being pushed along the sidewalk by the wind, but they're still terrifyingly accurate.
  • Sharing a Body: Matthew and the blue electric angels. They also mostly share a mind.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: By the third book, some characters believe that Matthew is suffering from PTSD.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Penny is apparently unable to form a sentence without swearing. To a lesser extent, Jeremy the Troll.
  • Someone Has to Do It: The Midnight Mayor protects the city from things that cannot otherwise be protected from. He does such a good job normally that Matthew doesn't originally believe he exists.
  • Sonic Scream: Penny and Templeman.
  • 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 twice a week...
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Matthew after his resurrection.
  • Switching P.O.V.: 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.)
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Oda (sword) and Matthew (sorcerer).
  • Taken for Granite: Nabeela's territory. Because the series relies on Post-Modern Magik, rather than turning them to stone she encases them in concrete.
  • Targeted to Hurt the Hero: Dana Mikeda. Matthew even says that Hunger/Bakker killed her to hurt him.
  • Tranquil Fury: Matthew frequently explains how angry he is in a totally flat voice. Of course, this is frequently due to utter exhaustion rather than actual tranquility.
  • Unequal 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
  • Weaksauce Weakness: What good is a Power Tattoo that can be destroyed if you get pen on it?
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Templeman. In the end, he wanted the Alderman to evolve and Matthew to understand what it means to be Midnight Mayor
    Templeman: What does it take? What does it take to make you do it? How many more must I kill, how much worse things must become, before you do what has to be done? What is the point of you?!
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In A Madness of Angels Matthew gets a few of this about the casualties his revenge is going to cause.
  • Whodunnit 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 crosses 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.". Then there's Matthew's definition of dragon: "Dinosaur meets flamethrower with wings".
  • You Do Not Have to Say Anything: In The Minority Council, used in an incantation to catch a monster (along with a roll of police tape and similar paraphernalia).
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Robert Bakker.