Ed Ainsworth's Reviews > Rivers of London

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
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's review
Aug 04, 12

really liked it
Read in August, 2012 , read count: 1

I bought this book while we were on holiday in the lake district. The reason it caught my eye, well one of the reasons was, A) I was looking for something that could relate to research for my own novel and B) we were in Kendal which is apparently a horrendous place. Who knew?

Where to begin?

This is Urban Fantasy at it's best. The setting in the book is fantastic. Frankly, it is a character in and of itself. Ben obviously lives or has lived in London for a lot of his life, so the descriptions are accurate and they're well realised. There's no incidental details because...everyone knows London, right?

What I particularly enjoyed about the setting was that it was real. Everything in this book could be real and that's exactly what gave the grounded characterisation and world the perfect set up to bring in the more 'fantastical' elements. That grounded element means that you don't have to suspend your disbelief so much.

Peter himself is where things get a little hazy. There's a lot of developments in his life, which he seem's to take in his stride. Be that because of his heritage, with an addict Father and a borderline OCD mother, or be it from his police training. Even when we see Molly's true nature, and his best friend/love interest #1 threatened, there's not much in the way of a reaction. He asks questions but not necessarily the right ones - it's always to propel the plot forwards and not necessarily to take a moment and sit in the character. I could be wrong, you know? His circumstances have changed but Peter, for the most part, has not.

The cast around Peter are interesting, but suffer from the same sort of problem. Their characters are revealed, particularly Mama Thames and Beverly Brook, but little is built on. I don't particularly mind to be honest, as the plot lines of the book itself propel the characters forwards with a great deal of pace and interest, and I found myself wondering about the murder mystery up until the first time the 'murderer' speaks.

The plot itself is very inventive, and does for Urban Fantasy what Science Fiction did for it's emerging genre. It not only re mystifies the awe and mystery of the big city and the layer upon layer of history of the city, but it gives it a modern bent. It would be so easy to carry on with tropes established by other writers - we all know Vampires, we all know Ghosts, we all know magic. Ben gives us a world with it's own rules and it's own twist on those tropes. It's a modernisation of Mythology, and that's particularly what I am interested in and love about this book. It's not just fantasy in London with some newly minted wizard - it's bringing out new mythology with it.

There were some shaky elements to that mythology, particularly with the doing away of the bady which had troubled the police from the very start of the book. It seemed too clean, too easy. Particularly once the main culprit had been removed, which was almost without effort, the secondary accomplice vacated in almost a clichéd manner. Little jumps of logic and the occasional sentence made me stop and re-read to see if I had indeed missed anything - it wasn't major and it didn't make me put the book down, it just needed something a little more to explain away the gaps.

Frankly, if you've a fan of a fun read, multiple clever plots, interested character (which sadly don't change all that much) and Urban Fantasy, I'd strongly recommend getting this for your collection. I am waiting to receive Moon's of Soho, very, very soon.
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03/29 marked as: read

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