REVIEW | Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
The first time that I read ‘Rivers of London‘ I had every intention of writing a proper review however I got so caught up in consuming the next book and then the next one things became a bit of a mish-mash – basically the review was a bit shit. My continuous love for London seems to have intertwined me with this particularly magical series of books.
As you can imagine by the title Rivers of London is based in London from the heart right to the outskirts. From Morden to High Barnet and Ealing to Epping this books has got you covered for a plethora of places that once you have finished reading will having you writing an endless list of spots to visit and contemplate the meaning of life itself, or at least chill and grab a coffee or cocktail. The character of London is shown in an exemplary manner throughout the book and as the age old saying goes ‘The devil really is in the detail’ Ben Aaronovitch is one author that really does my beautiful city justice and makes me even prouder of the city I live in.
One thing that I found even better about this particular book was that it was easy to remember the characters names both main and sideline and I felt that I was really a part of the story. My brain was in a constant frenzy of ‘who has done what, when, where and how?’ – with the added bit of mystery it was still incredibly fun to read. As I am not into spoilers I will give you brief overview of the main characters that I particularly liked and the others you will just have to read the book for yourselves!
From the top then . . .
Police Constable (PC) Peter Grant
Fresh of the probationary list Peter is allocated to the Case Progression Unit and understandably – as this particular department is known as the one where police men and women who are shit at their job are placed – is pissed off with this particular allocation as in himself he knows that there is so much more to him. That particular allocation however does not last very long as Peter very early on in the book runs into the seemingly affable ghost of Nicholas Wallpenny. Wallpenny is a failed actor from the 18th Century who in the end turns out to be something entirely different from his original appearance – he is an extremely dodgy character that opens up towards the end (keep reading!). As Peter is the central character of the story alongside his ‘guv’nor’ Inspector Thomas Nightingale there is plenty I could say but I suspect it would spoil the story so apart from the fact that he was born in the University College London Hospital (where I trained and qualified as a nurse!!!) to a jazz legend father and particularly strict Nigerian mother I’ll leave it at that. You will better acquainted with PC Grants antics as you continue to read.
Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Thomas Nightingale
Nightingale is PC Grant’s boss, mentor and the second protagonist of this book. Nightingale is one of the last (or that actual last) remaining magical practitioners in London and lives at The Folly. On whatever record (if there even is one!) Nightingale is supposedly born in 1900 (not around about during that actual year) so having seen off two world wars you could say that he is a pretty experienced police officer and magical presence. Up until the 70’s where he was in his 70’s Nightingale was ageing just like any other human being however something happened to switch it up and give him a serious case of the Benjamin Button’s over a very slow period of time (click here for reference). Known as one of the most powerful wizards in Europe in the 60’s he is held in extremely high esteem by those in the wizarding world only to be questioned by Peter if he attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry much to his dislike!
A seemingly serious individual with a soft spot for his new apprentice and the life that he seems to have injected into his world both professional and personal. Despite being incredibly old school Nightingale’s characters get’s better the further you get in the book (and series!) – an extremely debonair individual that does it without any actual effort.
Police Constable (PC) Leslie May
Described as a short and impossibly perky individual Leslie worked alongside Peter during their probationary period and is the object of Peter’s affection for quite some time. Leslie has a rough period that lasts for most of the first book. She is physically maimed as part of the awful plot of the dreadful Henry Pyke (this is one that I will not tell you about and just leave it at – you have to read it!). There is not much else that I can say about Leslie without giving away a lot of the story so that’s pretty much that!
The story line has you running around Covent Garden chasing after the ghost of Mr Punch (Punch and Judy) himself which is a great tie in with the history of the location that it is set. The high pitched squeal of Mr Punch getting up to mischief will have you on the edge of your seat wanting to get ahead to the next chapter. His signature phrase of ‘That’s the way to do it’ is of course used on more than one occasion. Keeping in with the title you are not segregated to the high streets and by streets of London’s city centre but driving at high speed towards to some of the most well known rivers (hence the title!). Mama & Papa Thames are rivals and their daughters to name just a couple Lady Ty (Tyburn River) and Beverly Brook (A minor river with the same name!) are but a few of the exciting characters that you will cross paths with on your journey through the ‘Rivers of London‘.
There are so many more interesting characters in this book and in the series as a whole and if you like me enjoy the prospect of there being a complete other world within our world then this book (and series) is DEFINITELY one that you need to get stuck into and quickly.
Mr Ben Aaronovitch is currently writing the next instalment in the series (you can keep up to date with is progress on his Twitter HERE!) and I’m sure it will be just as wonderful as the rest so hop to it and get stuck in.
This book is available in the following formats