Book Review: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch


Title: Rivers of London
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Published: January 10th 2011
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Crime, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Length: 392 pages

I purchased a copy of this book from Waterstones.

Book Blurb (via Goodreads):

My name is Peter Grant. Until January I was just another probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth. 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 a man who was dead, but disturbingly voluble, and that brought me to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. And that, as they say, is where the story begins.

Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated. I’m dealing with 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 that’s just routine. 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. Which, I don’t mind telling you, would involve a hell of a lot of paperwork.

My Thoughts

A fast-paced, fun, paranormal investigation, Rivers of London is a great start to what promises to be a fantastic series. Reminiscent of the Dresden series by Jim Butcher, with elements of a Harry Potter-esque world, Rivers of London merges the magical with the real in London.

Peter Grant is a young constable waiting to receive his new orders. When it seems he’s destined for a future of paperwork, his ambitions fall down around him. Until there’s a strange murder near Covent Garden and he finds himself looking for a ghost. When a chance encounter leads to him being assigned to Inspector Nightingale, Peter’s commitment is put to the test. His new CO is a wizard – or so he says – and in order to work with him, and not be chained to a desk, Peter must make an oath and become his apprentice. With a series of grisly murders around London demanding their attention, Peter tries to juggle his new magical training with his police work.

I loved this book. The fact that it is quite similar to Harry Dresden was a plus, but it has its own unique voice and is a lot more fun moments in it. I would say this is a lot lighter than Dresden and an easier read. The cast of characters is diverse and… well, some of them are quite a bit strange, but they all have their own personalities and really come to life in the pages. The case was really intriguing – weaving magic in with police work was really interesting to read. Trying to follow along is a lot harder than in a normal crime novel due to the magic, but it was still a lot of fun trying to work out who dunnit.

With not only the murders going on, but also a turf war between Mother Thames and Father Thames, the spirits of the river and their respective families, Peter has his hands full with his new role. I particularly liked this aspect of the novel, getting to see more of the magical side of London with the water spirits. The difference between the two factions was really amusing to read as well. Aaronovitch has a knack for creating unique characters that work well with each other and I can’t wait to see how they develop later in the series.

I looked at this book several times every time I went into Waterstones and I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up sooner. It’s addictive, fun, and a quick read (even though it’s long) and I couldn’t get enough of it. I can’t wait to jump into the next book in the series to find out what happens next. A great book for fans of paranormal crime that like a bit of humour in their books.


This book is available at the following links:

Non-Affiliate: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Affiliate: BookDepository

About the Author

Ben Aaronovitch’s career started with a bang writing for Doctor Who, subsided in the middle and then, as is traditional, a third act resurgence with the bestselling Rivers of London series.

Born and raised in London he says that he’ll leave his home when they prise his city out of his cold dead fingers.

Find out more about Ben at the following links: Website | Twitter

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

  1. Pingback: What I’m Reading: Week In Review | Heather Reviews

  2. Pingback: #YALC: Who Have I Read | Heather Reviews

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