2015 · Book Reviews · Crime · Fantasy · Fiction · Grief · Romance

Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch


Published: 2011 by Gollancz | Pages: 392

My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – we do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluble, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden . . . and there’s something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair. The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it’s falling to me to bring order out of chaos – or die trying.

Okay, so I decided to take part in Cityread in April 2015. Basically a massive book group encompassing all of London with various events going on around the city all linked to ‘Rivers of London’. This is definitely not the book I would gravitate towards in a book shop or online, however I did enjoy reading something out of my literary ‘comfort ground’.

So our main character is pretty like-able, although I had a real issue with how easily distracted he was. Yes he is a police, and yes Aaronovtich needed a character who could be encouraged into a supernatural world, but it still irritated me massively. Why the character had to become more attentive just because magic involved didn’t sit well for me. (I apologise, but I did get a tad grumpy reading this!)

Overall, I think the plot line is really interesting, and I did really enjoy the twists and turns linking to all the different supernatural folk. My favourite character was probably Leslie, even if she did turn out to be somewhat evil (thanks to Punch!). She was an easy character to relate to, and one that you were unknowingly, kind of gunning for every time she was given the crappy job, or the irritating boss. The best character, and most hilarious for me was Toby the dog. He reminded me of my old dog, Poppy. Both were naughty and very aware of their owner’s emotions. Also, a quick mention has to go to Molly, the strange vampire maid in Peter’s new abode with his ‘wizard’ master. I love a good vampire book as it is, so her character made me stick with the text.

Personally for me, one the best parts of ‘Rivers of London’ is the way Aaronovitch describes and interweaves his story with London. I loved hearing about specific areas which I could imagine instantly, and his clever use of historical parts of London to link in with his Punch & Judy theme. To be honest, it was only after I read this book, that I took any notice of ‘Actor’s Church’ in Covent Garden!

So, as I’ve said, this was a particular great read for me, just because I don’t particularly enjoy most supernatural books. Strong writing, and great scene setting though. If you like supernatural books, give it a go!


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