Today was a pretty big day. I graduated today. I’m an official graduate of Swansea University.
Just allow me this brief tangent today – then I’ll get onto the book. Look at me over there! This was the last picture of the day, once I was de-gowned, de-capped, and degreed. I was getting quite emotional at this point; the ceremony didn’t get to me particularly, although seeing everyone in their gowns was incredible! Felt like a real academic. It was only after the reception, after I’d said goodbye to some friends and favourite lecturers, that I started to get teary.
Then I went back to Sam’s and slept for an hour. After that I decided I should finally finish the book I have been reading this week: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch.
Peter Grant is a twenty-something, mixed race police officer in London. The book opens with a brutal murder in Covent Garden, and Grant is stationed at the site. His colleague Lesley goes for coffee, and Grant takes a witness statement from a ghost. This is his first foray into the hidden sectors of the metropolitan police force. He is handed over to Thomas Nightingale, an eccentric middle-aged (or so he appears…) Inspector, who also happens to be a wizard. Grant becomes apprenticed to Nightingale and starts learning about wizardy-things. Along the way, Grant meets some interesting characters, such as his original ghost witness, a strange vampiric housekeeper who looks like the girl from The Grudge, and the physical embodiments of the Rivers of London, included (of course) Mama Thames and the Old Man of the Thames. The backdrop of this, however, is the increasingly gruesome trail following the first murder in Covent Garden, murder upon murder perpetrated by seemingly random and unconnected individuals displaying uncharacteristic rage and violence. Described by critics as what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the police force, this is an unconventional urban fantasy which is simultaneously a magical adventure, a crime thriller, and a love letter to London.
Things I liked
The light, witty style. Peter Grant’s young yet wearied, city-loving yet outsider voice sings through the prose. Such a fun style to just fall into.
The characters. Grant is a great guide to police procedure and London, randomly dropping in little tidbits of historical information and details. Nightingale is a lot of fun, although a little easy to figure out the secret details not revealed until the end. Beverley Brook and the entire river family – particularly Mama Thames and Lady Tyburn – are great, a family of kickass ladies. I even like the ‘bad guys’.
The details about London. Thrown in with the familiarity of a true Londoner, the kind of detail and closeness that cannot be rendered through research.
The exploration of magic. But that’s better read in the book than in this review.
The historical detail.
Things I didn’t like
Couldn’t say. Sometimes a little slow, sometimes not enough dialogue for my taste. But that’s not because there’s an overabundance of description, it’s more about thought process, which works.
Should I read this?
I absolutely recommend. It’s a young book but not a young adult book. It’s funny, it’s gory, it’s intense, it’s believable and fantastical. I say go for it – plus the fourth book in the series just came out if I’m not mistaken. Go forth and read.
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The Book Depository
You can buy the book here: http://www.bookdepository.com/Rivers-London-Ben-Aaronovitch/9780575097582/?a_aid=SpidersLibrary
Because I am trying not to use Amazon in my own half-arsed protest-y way, I’d like to recommend to people that they check out The Book Depository, which is a great, user-friendly site with affordable books ranging from brand new releases to classics, and in many different editions at less-than brand new prices. As I am now officially an affiliate of The Book Depository, I gain a small commission if you use my affiliate link to buy books! Please do check it out, even if you don’t buy anything right now.