Sineala's Reviews > Rivers of London

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
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May 19, 12

bookshelves: e-books, fantasy, fiction, mystery, urban-fantasy, favorites
Read in May, 2012

Rivers of London is an urban fantasy police procedural mystery. I could compare it to a bunch of other things. I could say it's like Neverwhere meets Stealing the Elf-King's Roses meets CSI meets the X-Files meets The Magicians in a distinctly post-Harry Potter world. With a sense of humor. (I say it is post-Harry Potter because, even though magic is done by saying Latin words and waving your hands, the characters take this opportunity to snark at Harry Potter for being fictional.) But, really, I'll just say that it's very, very good, and I stayed up until 2 a.m. because I had to finish it.

The set-up: It's London, and brand-new constable Peter Grant shows up to investigate a gruesome murder, only to find that his witness is a ghost. He promptly gets himself apprenticed to DI Thomas Nightingale, a man who is the sole remaining member of the wizard division of the Metropolitan Police, solving the magical crimes everyone else can't. This is good timing, as London is very shortly besieged by a crime wave of supernaturally-committed violence.

It paints an exciting, vibrant picture of London, and both the plot and the main character are very smart; he immediately starts conducting a variety of common-sense experiments on wizardry and technology. The magic system is not as fleshed-out as I would like, but I suspect the author is holding details in reserve for later books. The worldbuilding and infodumping is skillfully done, and the more random historical and geographical trivia you know, the more fun you will have. (In a display of nerdery amazing even myself, I knew who Tiberius Claudius Verica was from the name alone and then spent several scenes trying to figure out how in the world he was ever relevant to London. I still don't think he is, unless the Atrebates ever took a trip east, because Calleva is not Londinium. Whoops. And, yes, this is plot-relevant.)

I am not sure I can come up with anything to say other than: read it. It's a fun mystery, it's tightly-plotted, the characterization and worldbuilding are good, and it's got a great, snarky sense of humor. Wizards! In the Met! Hooray!

I am really glad that the series has a US release (even with a title change) and I am going to recommend it to anyone who might conceivably be interested. Because this was awesome. I am now off to read book 2, and then to eagerly await book 3.
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