Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Book Review: Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch

Note: This book is titled 'Midnight Riot' in the U.S.

Ben Aaronovitch obviously has a thing for London, and Rivers of London is a book which revels in a sense of place and history. Even if there wasn't a fantastic story in here, you could read it for an exuberant tour of London.

But there is a good story, and a quirky, original take on urban fantasy.

When probationary police constable Peter Grant encounters a ghost during a murder investigation, he is recruited by Chief Inspector Nightingale, the force's only wizard. Before he can come to terms with his status as the an apprentice magician, he finds himself investigating a series of horrific supernatural murders.

And if that wasn't enough, he has to negotiate a truce between the fractious Genii Loci - the local gods - of the Thames.

The nearest comparison I can come up with for Aaronovitch's book is Mike Carey's Felix Castor novels, although Carey's books are darker and more noir, where Aaronvitch maintains a lightness and humour (which doesn't always quite come off).

Aaronovitch has written screenplays and tie-in books before, but this is first purely solo novel, and this shows slightly in the earlier parts of the book, where a bit trimming would have helped certain scenes, but once the book really gets going, I soon forgot this, and by the time it reached its climax, it was utterly gripping.

This is a modern, urban fantasy, but it follows its own path, almost unaware of, and certainly unaffected by, the cliches that creep into some urban fantasies.


Note: The sequel to Rivers of London, Moon Over Soho, has already been published in both the US and UK.

1 comment:

Steph said...

I'll definitely try this one!