‘Rivers of London’ by Ben Aaronovitch [Book Review]

For over a year I’ve been meaning to start reading the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch. After seeing him speak on a panel at YALC 2016, I was immediately interested in his magical urban fantasy novels, and oddly surprised why I hadn’t heard about them before. Whilst on holiday in Kos, Greece, I finally began the audiobook of book one, Rivers of London for the 2017 Reading Challenge.

Title: Rivers of London
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Released: 2011
Pages: 392
Category: #63 A book with a town, city or country in the title
Rating: 6/10


“‘So magic is real,” I said. “Which makes you a… what?”
“A wizard.”
“Like Harry Potter?”
Nightingale sighed. “No,” he said, “not like Harry Potter.”
“In what way?”
“I’m not a fictional character,” said Nightingale.’

The first in an urban fantasy series starring PC Peter Grant, Rivers of London beings with our protagonist’s surprise meeting with a ghost, who describes the brutal murder Peter is sent to investigate. Strangely, the Metropolitan Police do not seem shocked by the encounter, and they send him to be trained under Detective Nightingale in his speciality: magic.

The novel follows Peter learning about the magic that flows through his city (we are introduced to vampires and spirits), and the police’s attempt to uncover the secrets behind the gruesome murder(s).

It is an incredibly witty book, and the characters are interesting, but as the first in a series I found the plot slightly dry (ironic given the title).

When I started listening to this book, I was immediately enthralled by both the plot and the sarcastic main character. As a result I had high expectations for the rest of the novel, but unfortunately the book fell a little flat. It was almost as though there were too many threads attempting to be addressed: the ghost and the murders, the Rivers, Peter learning about magic and how to use it, etc etc. However, I really liked the narrator and how all the characters felt so unique, so I will certainly be continuing with the series on audiobook.

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

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