Rivers of London – Review


Rating: 4 Stars

It started at one thirty on a cold Tuesday morning in January when Martin Turner, street performer and, in his own words, apprentice gigolo, tripped over a body in front of the West Portico of St Paul’s at Covent Garden.

The Plot

PC Peter Grant dreams of joining the Murder Squad in London. His superiors, however, see him inputting data, spending his time behind a desk. Things change, when, while guarding the murder site where a man was gruesomely beheaded, a witness comes forward to talk to him. Unfortunately, said witness is a ghost. Fortunately, this gains him the attention of Inspector Thomas Nightingale, tasked with investigating crimes in which magic or the supernatural is involved.

Soon Peter Grant finds himself in a world in which magic exists, strange creatures haunt the night and river gods walk around, hunting a murderous magic user.

The Good

Peter is very funny to read. I loved the way he describes things and his outlook on the world. He is funny, sarcastic and often very insightful.

A mob will tear an individual to pieces, and a man with a gun and a noble cause is happy to kill ever so many women and children. But risking a fair fight – not so easy. That’s why you see those pissed young men doing the dance of the ‘don’t hold me back’ while desperately hoping someone likes them enough to hold them back.

I also liked that he doesn’t accept magic as well it’s magic, but instead tries to find out how it works. He tries to consolidate magic with science, doing experiments on where the magical energy comes from. It is great to read a book in which magic and science aren’t mutually exclusive. Even though we get the usual explanation of magic and fancy electronics don’t mix, at least Peter is curious as to why and we get an explanation.

What worried me was where the power was coming from. I never was very good at electricity, so I didn’t know how much power it took to make a werelight. But levitating one small apple against the earth’s gravity – that was essentially the standard definition of one newton of force, and it should be using one theoretical joule of energy every second.

Besides Peter, I also loved the secondary characters. Inspector Nightingale is the perfect mixture of mysterious and awkward. I loved the scene where he walks in on Peter and his friends to hang out. It was deliciously awkward.

Molly shot to her feet as soon as Nightingale came into the room, Lesley got up because he was a senior officer and Beverley stood either from some vestigial politeness or in anticipation of a quick getaway. I introduced Beverley, who he’d met only briefly when she was ten.

‘Would you like a beer, sir?’ I asked.

‘Thank you,’ he said. ‘Call me Thomas, please.’

Which was just not going to happen.

I just want to find out more about almost all of the secondary characters. They are interesting, snarky, and no cardboard cut-outs.

I also enjoyed the atmosphere of the book. Rivers of London does a great job in transporting you to the city and creating an atmosphere that is creepy, mixed with modern.

The magic system and the mythology of the book are also well thought-out and different enough from other urban fantasy books to make it interesting. We’ve got ghosts and the living embodiments of London’s rivers. And whatever Molly is.

Molly lowered her eyes and did an awkward little dip that might have been a curtsey or a bow. When Toby growled again Molly snarled back, showing disturbingly sharp teeth.

The Bad

The thing that made the book drag sometimes were the exaggeratedly detailed descriptions of London streets. I liked the atmosphere, I loved the way the setting is included but it is just too much when every single street and sidestreet is mentioned.

We swerved round the mini-roundabout on Longacre, slowed in deference to another crowd of drinkers outside the Kemble’s Head on the corner and accelerated down Bow Street.

Also, Peter was just too horny for my taste. I get it, beautiful women, he’s a young guy, yadda yadda, but seriously, how often do we need to read about his erection?

I woke again, much later, with the morning sunlight slanting through my bedroom window. I lay on my back feeling refreshed, with a solid erection and the vague memory of an erotic dream about Beverly.

Get over yourself, Peter, you’ve got a murderer to catch.

The Conclusion

A strong start to what promises to be a great series. Peter is an enjoyable protagonist, the setting and the mythology is great and I really want to know more about the secondary characters.


2 thoughts on “Rivers of London – Review

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