Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch is a book I have actually read before. I picked it up three years ago as it sounded quite cool and the front cover pulled me in. However, when I initially picked it up, it kind of flew by as I listened to the Audiobook, not really appreciating anything I was listening to. However, this time I had a lot more appreciation for the writing, and the comedy but I believe I still hold some of the same opinions as before.
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Peter Grant, a Constable Policeman in London is a sub-par police officer. However, after a weird encounter with a boy who claims to be a ghost, his whole life is turned upside down (excuse the cliche line) when he realises he has the rare ability to see ghosts and that there are actually far more weird and wonderful creatures out there than he ever knew.
Rivers of London plot – 4/5
Rivers of London follows Peter Grant as he goes from bang average copper to apprentice magician, running around London trying to solve a murder he believed to just be that of a regular human. I’ll admit, there is quite a clever storyline going on here that all reveals itself eventually. It’s not cliche, it’s not predictable and for quite a while things seem to have no rhyme or reason – until they suddenly do.
I’ll admit, it felt like the world was lacking something. The combination of Aarovonitch’s writing style and the way he introduces us to this world doesn’t quite leave me feeling fully immersed. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of lore to the sudden appearance of magicians and I hope this is something that Arronovitch picks up more in the rest of the series.
I do have to mention the obscene and completely unnecessary sexualisation of nearly all of the women in this book – their appearance and their “curves” are constantly mentioned as well as the effect these have on Grant as a character. Completely unnecessary and ruined what little immersion I did have whilst reading.
River of London characters – 4/5
I will admit Aaronovitch does write some great characters with interesting personalities. They all have a sense of humour and nothing is taken that seriously. Some of them have short tempers, and others are quite menacing and intimidating, but all are clearly defined and well-written.
I don’t know if it’s Grant, the main character who is vulgar and Aarvonovitch has written him like that on purpose or whether that’s just the author coming through. Either way, I’m not here for it and hope it lessens in later books. However, other than these moments, I did like the main character – he seems to accept the sudden existence that these fantastical creatures fairly quickly and is happy to plod along into this new world he needs to inhabit as a magician’s apprentice.
The main villain is quite clever and ends up having more of a personality than a lot of villains have any right to.
I think, however, that the reason I’m only going for a four here is that due to the fact that nearly all of the characters just seemed to float about their lives, the stakes never felt particularly high. It felt almost childlike in this sense.
Rivers of London – 4/5
Rivers of London has the potential for so much. It has a mature and interesting main character and the opportunity to really drop us deep into this new world we find out about. Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite yet in this first book and this, coupled with some uncomfortable references to women made me waver between a three and a four. I genuinely think I’ll like the sequels if they just include higher stakes, introduce more of the world to us, expand upon the lore and get rid of the awkward sexualisation of every woman.