Title: Rivers of London
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
No. of Pages: 392
Published: January 10th 2011 by Gollanc
***Warning Review Contains Spoilers***
First of all, I have to say that Ben Aaronovitch has an excellent body of work: he wrote two 7th-Doctor-era serials for Doctor Who, and has written Doctor Who novels which I have read, and may review shortly. Also he seems to have been the first to send a Dalek up a staircase… sending all those grown-up children still hiding behind the sofa, out of the house and down to the fortified shed at the bottom of the garden. But I digress!
Rivers of London is a Urban Fantasy set in Good ol’ London town. The story revolves around a mixed race, aspiring plod of London’s Metropolitan Police called Peter Grant. But his aspirations seem to be put on permanent hiatus due to the inner politics of the Main office, this is until his unusual talent of seeing Ghosts/Spirits leads him down his path to Inspector, however this path won’t be an easy one. Brutal murders, meddlesome gods and deities, not to mention magic’s ancient and magic’s new it’s going to be a bumpy ride, but with the assistance of unrequited love interest, Police Constable Lesley May; an officer in the Metropolitan Police and guidance of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale; head of the Folly and of course the last officially sanctioned English Wizard, things will surely work out in the end right? well you will have to pick up the book and read it yourself to find out.
I like how Aaronovitch structured his lore and how it co-inhabited with his magic system within this new magical take of London, through his method of writing we get a sense of the effort and thought Peter puts into learning magic, and understanding the underlying principles and negative effects. It isn’t until a third into the book when he finally raises his own werelight (floating orb of light), and we are ready to cheer with him when Aaronovitch writes:
“Fuck me, I thought. I can do magic.”
It’s a refreshing change from the all-powerful heroes of other books where they learn of magic and all of a sudden can bring down meteors and are conjuring unicorns with fire tails. Peter still makes mistakes, and tries to bend the rules of magic.. which often result in a scolding from Nightingale.
Overall the story is interesting, its full of twists, turns, surprising law, and downright darkness in parts. Its main selling feature to me was that it wasn’t only a straight Urban Fantasy, it was also a crime investigating, Lore filled adventure with a healthy helping of comedic elements on the side. It is definitely worth a read, the same can be said for all of the subsequent issues I have read thus far from Broken Holmes to Foxglove Summer. So take my advice, pick it up and get hooked on the Magical Journey of the career of Peter Grant, and with any luck.. there might be some of England left by the end of it.
Until next time.. read more books!