Book Review #2: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Rivers of London cover (source: patrickknowlesdesign.co.uk)

This is a review of the Kindle version of this book.

Title: Rivers of London (alternate title: Midnight Riot), Peter Grant Series #1
Written by: Ben Aaronovitch
Published by: Gollancz
Year: 2011

Peter Grant, police constable, stumbles into a world of murder and magic. Ben Aaronovitch created an interesting world in his Peter Grant series, a world that is open to more exploration but also more explanation. The first book of this series, Rivers of London, while beautifully written, leaves the reader unsatisfied in the end.

Aaronovitch’s writing is descriptive but flows nicely. He uses colourful, sophisticated language which made reading this book a real joy. Unfortunately, the protagonist, police constable and magician-to-be, Peter Grant, annoyed me immensely. His sexist remarks made me shudder and groan out loud more than once. It seemed like his only concerns in the world were undressing the women in this book with his eyes and getting laid.

The story in Rivers of London is two-fold. One story-line depicts Peter’s journey into magic by way of solving a mysterious murder. His only eye-witness is a ghost. A fact which Peter accepts rather nonchalantly. The whole magic business – which, while not regarded with much delight, is still accepted within the police force. As a reader, I found this bizarre acceptence of something so weird more or less unbelievable. It failed to convince me.

The second-line story deals with a dispute among river gods over territory. Although this seems to be a big issue in the magical realm of London, it remains a side note in this book. It’s solution was boring and met with disbelief from my side. There was no perceivable connection between the murder and the gods’ dispute.

The main protagonist, Peter, didn’t leave much room for this novel’s minor characters to develop or feel like real people. Even the severe consequences that the female friend and colleague suffered were only mentioned in passing. The preview for Moon over Soho, the second novel in the Peter Grant series, which was part of this Kindle version, seemed to deal with these consequences a bit better. As a stand-alone, Rivers of London was a good enough read and a pleasant way to pass some time. It didn’t leave me wanting to read more, though.

My rating: 3/5

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