Review – Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch


Last Saturday, I was finding myself in a post-exam void, so it was the perfect time for me to finally raid my dad’s bookshelf and grab his copy of Ben Aaronovitch‘s Rivers of London. And this is what happened:

I was instantly hooked. After years of reading gazillions of vampire series that had started mixing up in my mind, I had sworn myself not to start another series for at least another year. But then there was my dad reading Ben Aaronovitch, telling me that the Peter Grant series was fun and clever. After my exam I needed something light and so I couldn’t resist any longer.

Rivers of London
Image provided by Orion Publishing Group¹
Synopsis quoted from Orion Publishing Group¹:

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 (and 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 voluable, 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.

My Thoughts:

Rivers of London is mainly set in present day London but those of us who have a soft spot for dated architecture won’t be disappointed. There’s enough of it in this book to make your heart beat faster. Did I mention that Mr Aaronovitch even gives us a library? An old one. Actually there is more than one, but he describes one of them in enough detail for me to fall in love with it. (Okay I’m a bookaholic and a history student, I might not be a reliable source in those matters.)

Peter Grant, our main character, is an apprentice wizard and police constable. He is a very likable fellow and great to be around. You really want to be friends with him. There is, however, another character in Rivers of London that I felt more drawn to: Inspector Nightingale. Inspector Nightingale, who likes to dress in an old-fashioned way, is clever and mysterious which somehow seems to make him attractive.

Rivers of London takes you on a fast-paced hunt for a mysterious murderer. As a matter of fact, the novel’s pace sometimes gets so fast I had to reread certain passages to make sense of what was happening. Rivers of London combines a great sense of humor with loads of interesting facts about English history and architecture and this is what makes the novel special. If you are interested in history, but you’d like to try urban fantasy for a change, Rivers of London might just be the book for you.



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