Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

I’d describe Rivers of London, the first in a three-book series of the same name, as The Bill meets Harry Potter. It tells the story of DC Peter Grant, a young policeman who is recruited to the Metropolitan Police Service division that deals with magic and the supernatural and becomes the first English apprentice wizard in 70 years. DC Grant has to grapple with the personification of the Thames and its tributaries as real London characters in order to diffuse a potential bruck-up between Mother and Father Thames,  interrogate ghosts as potential witnesses to a string of strange murders, and, at one stage, actually time-travel through centuries of London time to chase a ghostly villain.

Yes, you read all that correctly. For some reason, I kept wondering what the cast of New Tricks (aka the greatest cop show ever made) would do if confronted with these extra policing pressures. I decided that Brian would totally buy into it, Gerry would decide it was Political Correctness Gone Mad, and Jack would begrudgingly knuckle down and get on with it, yet prove particularly adept at the ghostly interrogation. This, and frequent spontaneous renditions of Boney M’s Rivers of Babylon prompted by the book’s title, plagued my mind while reading this novel.

However, if  you can suspend belief, then it is an entertaining read. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the action takes place around familiar London locations (hence why it is classified as an ‘urban fantasy’ novel, as a fantastic story in an urban rather than a fictitious setting, fact fans) and is peppered with lots of interesting stories from London’s history. The only aspect of the book I slightly struggled with was the occasional character stereotyping, for example the Nigerian housewife or the London ‘rude gals’. It wasn’t exactly offensive, just somehow unconvincing.

But this is still a good read. Not life-changing, but thoroughly enjoyable. Just don’t wander around St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden after dark. Trust me.

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19 Comments Add yours

  1. Heather says:

    This is one of my favourite books of recent times – I love the whole series. Just in case you missed some, there are actually five books out in the series at the moment, and there’s a sixth one that’s due for release next month; but the release date has been pushed back so many times that it could change again. If you haven’t read the rest of the series I can highly recommend it. ‘Rivers of London’ is definitely my favourite, but the rest are pretty good too!

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    1. Ooh my mistake and thank you for clarifying! I think I may read another if I come across a copy. Do they have to be read in sequence, do you think?

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      1. Heather says:

        No problem 🙂
        Um, I’d suggest that it probably is best to read them in order. Each book deals with its own crime to be solved, but there’s one plot thread working through all of them that links it all together, and then there are occasionally references to past books and some minor characters that reappear every now and then that it would be handy to have context for.

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      2. Thanks Heather, good advice!

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  2. Love this whole series. London, crime and magic; brilliant combination

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    1. It really is quite something! Have you read the others in the series?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Someone gave me this book as a present years ago. It has been sitting in the stack on my nightstand ever since, collecting dust. I think I might just pick it up (and dust it off) and read it now.

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  4. Someone recommended me to this to me knowing my love for Discworld so I gave it a try. Somehow, I never finished it but after reading this I want to return to the book and try reading it again. And the mention of time travel always perks me up hahaha

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    1. The time travel scene is amazing, one of the absolute highlights! I never read anything approaching the fantasy genre so this was a completely new experience for me. I might give Discworld a go!

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      1. You should you should! You should try Thursday next as well. It’s also a police procedural but with literature and time travel~ I think you’d enjoy it very much.

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      2. Thank you for the heads up!

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  5. Magechild says:

    I actually found this book on my trip to London earlier this year 🙂 I enjoyed it too, but I have to agree the stereotyping was an unnecessary distraction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you’ve said that! I thought I was being oversensitive! Ps I hope you enjoyed your London trip

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Magechild says:

        Thank you! I did very much 🙂

        And if Rivers of London was up your alley, I would also recommend the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka- another London based urban fiction novel 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ooh thanks for the recommendation!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Karen says:

    Loving this book – great recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to hear that!

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