Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch | Book Review

"Rivers of London" book cover

Goodreads told me I would love this book. The internet at large told me I would love this book. The guy in the bookshop told me I would love this book. And luckily, I did love this book, ‘cos if I hadn’t I’d have been sorely disappointed.

Rivers of London is a mishmash of urban fantasy and classic crime. Protagonist Peter Grant, a probationary constable, finds himself taking a witness statement from a ghost after a very grizzly murder. Soon after, he’s drafted into a specialist department which tackles crime that is linked with the spooky and the supernatural. Someone’s face has exploded, random people are experiencing sudden bursts of violent rage, and there’s a turf war going on between Mother and Father Thames.

First off, I loved the witty first-person narration. You really got a feeling for how Peter’s mind works, and even in the midst of some dramatic, tense action, his little asides and snippy remarks keep the tone light, fun, and full of personality.

Next, I loved how vividly the world of the Metropolitan Police was described – even the boring bits. By showing us much of the drab normality of police procedure, the story became very firmly rooted in the real world, which made all the fantasy elements all that more intriguing.

My favourite character was Molly. She is completely silent, has a penchant for raw beef, and very occasionally, when she opens her mouth to laugh, she reveals a series of very sharp teeth. She doesn’t say a single thing throughout the book, but her movements and expressions are described so brilliantly that you feel like you know exactly what she’s feeling and thinking. We don’t know much about Molly’s backstory or even what she is, but I’m desperately hoping we’ll learn more about her in future books.

Now, I do have to mention one little thing I didn’t love – Peter’s thirsty descriptions of the women he fancies. There were a few moments I found myself rolling my eyes at the accounts of Lesley and Beverley and how tough of a time Peter had ignoring his urges to touch them. It gave Peter a slimy and sleezy vibe which was completely at odds with the way his character came across at all other times. It just didn’t feel right; it was jarring and took me out of the story. Thankfully, though, these moments were few and far between, so they didn’t necessarily ruin my experience with the book.

Basically, I think Rivers of London is certainly deserving of all the praise it has received. It’s fun, funny, clever, crammed full of history, paints a vivid description of the streets and London, and is the kind of book you don’t want to put down. I’ll definitely be working my way through the rest of the series.

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Author: Ellie Scott

Ellie Scott is a freelance copywriter and fiction writer from Sheffield, UK. She writes speculative and silly short stories and flash fiction. She has published two short story collections - 'Merry Bloody Christmas' and 'Come What May Day'. In 2018 she was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize Short Story Competition. She can often be found loitering on Twitter (@itsemscott), Instagram (@tinysillystories) and Medium (@elliemaryscott).

4 thoughts on “Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch | Book Review”

  1. Enjoyed your review, so headed over to Amazon to check out the Kindle edition. Started reading…liking it from the first paragraph (body missing a head). Worth a $1.25 investment. Thanks for the recommendation, Ellie!
    PS – working through the series will certainly keep you busy – prolific or what?

    1. It was the same for me – I was excited to read it when I first picked it up but it hung around on my shelf for months. Found myself wondering why I’d left it so long when I finally read it. I hope you enjoy it!

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