Book Review: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

9317452Title: Rivers of London (Rivers of London #1)

Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Fiction, Paranormal

Publisher: Gollancz

Published: January 10, 2011

Page Amount: 392 pages

Blurb From Goodreads: My name is Peter Grant. Until January I was just another probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth. 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 a man who was dead, but disturbingly voluble, and that brought me to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. And that, as they say, is where the story begins. Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated. I’m dealing with 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 that’s just routine. 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.

Why Read: I had been meaning to read this book for quite a few months. Any book that surrounds an underground London that somehow coexists with the London of today immediately catches my interest. Rivers of London also has a number of paranormal creatures and characters, add that and mix with some unknowing police officers  – you have a ready-made book for me.

Review: Some cities lend themselves to fantasy and fiction, and London seems to be perfect. Maybe it’s that undeniable sense of humor that the British seem to have, or perhaps it’s the history of the place – but Rivers of London is no exception to the great London paranormal experience. The whole book felt strangely light-hearted, and reminded me of a Neil Gaiman-like experience but without the usual event of being horribly disturbed after reading it.

The most logical place to start is at the beginning, and Constable Peter Grant’s police situation is the best beginning. Grant doesn’t have a lot to lose, except that he isn’t a particularly good policeman, and doesn’t want to be sent to paperwork for the rest of his life. As luck would have it, he has some paranormal wizardly powers and manages to get transfered to Chief Inspector Nightingale. Grant is hilariously under talented and yet you find yourself rooting for him as the underdog. He’s both under-appreciated but easy to empathize with (i.e. the ideal main character).

Given the pace of the book, I am hard-pressed to find troubles with any of the characters, because the pace keeps you up while attempting to stay ahead of the plots. There are so many! Part of what made this book so fascinating for me was the variety of different story lines going on simultaneously. As a reader, I could never be sure what the “main” problem was, or what I should be focusing my attention on. The writing style lends itself to speedy reading, something I will certainly not complain about.

All in all, it was a greatly amusing book to pass the time as I spent it in my room whilst in Mongolia. Yes… I realize I should have been doing other things (perhaps even outside), but why would you want to do that, when there are books and fresh air inside?

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Heather says:

    This is one of my favourite series – I can highly recommend the rest of the books (I have a huge crush on Nightingale). You should binge on them all before the next one is released 🙂

    1. Gabriella says:

      Twist my arm, I’ll do my best 😛

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