Monday, April 25, 2011

Rivers of London, (or Midnight Riot) by Ben Aaronovitch

Title: Rivers of London (UK) / Midnight Riot (USA)
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Publisher: Gollancz (UK) / Del Ray (USA)
Release Date: Out Now!
Source: Bought in Waterstones, London

Description from author website: 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 (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.

I heard a lot about this book when it was first released, but didn't really know what it was about. I was about to get on a train home from London to Edinburgh, and needed something to read, so I decided to check it out. Lo and behold, not only was it a genre I like to read, but it sounded really good. I must have read about half of it on that journey home, and the rest in a second, later sitting. I love it.

When the book starts, Peter Grant is about to be assigned to a branch of the police, and is trying hard not to antagonise his superiors (too much). Along with his friend Lesley, he ends up standing around in the cold in the wee hours of the morning guarding a murder scene. And it's here that he meets the first ghost. He's soon picked up by Inspector Nightingale, and moves in to The Folly, where suddenly he has to learn magic on top of his ordinary police duties. Don't worry - there's no waving magic wands around.

The plot moves between the string murders that Peter knows are linked, even if he can't quite work out how yet, and a territory dispute between two of the river deities in the city - Father Thames, who controls the north, and Mama Thames who controls the south. I loved the interactions with the rivers. Although manifestations of something like a river are things I've come across before in books, I felt like this was fresh in many ways, and the personalities of each of the rivers were very strong. It's a very clever plot, full of twists and turns, and I was constantly wondering what would happen next. I had a wonderful 'oh!' moment mid-book where it 'clicked' and suddenly I could see how things were tied together - but it wasn't like the typical 'oh' moment in a book. Sometimes it clicks, and you can see exactly who the bad guy is, and how the rest of the book will pan out. This wasn't like that. I still had so many questions, and I had no idea how things would work out. I'll say it again - it's a very clever plot. I love it.

My favourite part of the book though, the thing that kept me reading so fast, was the writing. It's suffused with humour, and within the first few pages of the book you get a distinct impression of the main character's voice. I kept stopping to read bits to my dad, or anyone else who was nearby. Aaronovitch brings the city of London to life, whether you're familiar with it or have never been before.

In short, this book is brilliant. I love it. I can't wait to read the sequel - and luckily, it's out now too! So I'll have to find my way to a bookshop soon.
Rivers Of London gets 10 out of 10 from me.



Blodeuedd on April 25, 2011 at 8:54 PM said...

A 10, wow, then I will definitely keep this one in mind

SusiSunshine on April 26, 2011 at 2:50 PM said...

This one sounds like my sister would love it! She's a sucker for these books. Thanks for the review!

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