Sunday, 14 June 2015

Book Review: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

My name is Peter Grant. Until January I was just another probationary constable in the Metropolitan Police Service. 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.

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. Which, I don't mind telling you, would involve a hell of a lot of paperwork.

My Review:
I was in two minds about reading this book based on the blurb. I liked the sound of the story and where Peter was working but I just wasn't sure about whether I'd like it. As it happens it didn't work out great for me but this is more due to my taste than any issue with the book.

I read a lot of American based books in the urban fantasy realm and one problem I have with them at times is the way authors try to be funny and fail. Some authors are trying to grab you and say 'LAUGH HERE, it's funny!' and I end up rolling my eyes at whatever it is and not laughing at all. It's too forceful and I find that annoying to read. They are trying to impose what they find funny onto the reader and I don't enjoy that kind of writing much.

There are plenty books, American and British written, that go for more subtle humour and this is one of them. The author presents Peter's ironic observations about life as his own thoughts, and I found myself smiling at a few of them. The author isn't trying to force you to laugh at anything, he is presenting quirky humour in a low key way and it is much more entertaining to read. Peter doesn't think much of the British people or his police duties and I enjoyed a lot of his grumblings. It just works well.

"Nothing builds character like being abused, spat at and being vomited on by members of the public'.

Peter as a character is someone you could like. I've worked with guys like him who are a bit grumpy and sarky so I can relate to him! He is smart, witty and amusing as an MC.

So why did I give the book 2 stars? Well basically, I felt as if I was reading a crime novel and not an urban fantasy novel. By page 70 we had seen one ghost and a spell to silence a barking dog. Most of the story was exploring crime scenes and talking to witnesses, and I wasn't really excited by the slowness of the plot. I don't like crime novels because long drawn out investigations and asking a group of suspects the same questions does not greatly interest me. So having this book follow that pattern disappointed me.

There is nothing really wrong with this book. If you like crime novels and like a bit of paranormal, I think you would probably enjoy this book as there is a lot to like about it.  
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png


  1. I remember seeing this book around a while back. I can't remember what the others thought of it though. Thanks for sharing about it.

    1. I think people who like crime novels would like this one. It's not a bad book and maybe it gets more paranormal further into the book.