Hello dear reader(s) and welcome back to another edition of Nessa reads and reviews! In today’s review I’m going to write about Ben Aaronovitch’s ongoing series – Rivers of London. Since January is generally considered to be a depressing month, I decided that I’m going to start 2019 right and read something fast paced, page turning and incredibly fun(ny)! Hence the rereading of all the books in this series, including the newest book that was published a few months ago. However, the ongoing nature of the series caused a reviewing conundrum: should I review this as a series, despite being aware that more content is coming, or should I review each book on its own? After thinking about it, I’ve decided to review the books that have been published so far as a series, and review forthcoming books/novels/comics separately as they come. Essentially, I’m going to decide about the forthcoming content on a case by case basis. 🙂
Having resolved that little issue, let’s get started with the review. First of all, it’s only right and proper to introduce the author of this magnificent series. Ben Aaronovitch, London born and bred, is an UK writer and screenwriter. You can find more about his work on his website, he’s also active on Twitter @Ben_Aaronovitch where you can follow his writing progress and other shenanigans. Aaronovitch’s name might ring a bell to Doctor Who fans – he wrote 2 serials for the show in the late 1980s. His most popular work is undoubtedly the Rivers of London series a perfect mix of urban fantasy and police procedural. Rivers of London follows Peter Grant, a young officer in the Metropolitan Police, who after an accidental encounter with a ghost gets recruited into the Folly. The Folly being a small, specialised branch of the Met that deals with (to quote DCI Seawoll) “weird bollocks”. Currently the series consist of the following titles, ordered in the official series chronology (which you can find on the author’s site and a helpful illustrated reader’s guide):
Rivers of London
The Home Crowd Advantage
Moon Over Soho
Whispers Under Ground
The Furthest Station
The Hanging Tree
A Rare Book of Cunning Device (audiobook)
The October Man (upcoming)
In addition to the novels, Ben Aaronovitch in collaboration with Andrew Cartmel created a series of graphic novels set in the Rivers of London universe. These comics tell their own separate stories through the eyes of other characters in the main series. Moreover, we get to know Peter’s associates and a variety of characters we were introduced in the main series, but for one reason or another (usually plot reasons) Aaronovitch didn’t have time/space to dwell on them in the main series. However, I haven’t read the comics, so I can’t comment on that, but it’s on the (ever growing) list. 🙂
And now that I’ve given you enough (or more than enough 😀 ) information about the author, the series, the book and graphic novels in the series, I can finally tell you my thoughts about it! 😀 In essence, in my opinion Rivers of London is a magnificent series because of 3 main things: An excellent idea that is well developed, superbly crafted and splendidly written; along with a varied and diverse cast of characters that have their own unique voices. I think this perfectly sums up my review 😀 so if you take anything from my ramblings remember this. Nonetheless, I shall expand a bit on these points, because I did not spend half the day talking to myself and crafting these points just to leave it like this. 😀
Going in reverse order I shall start with the cast. As I mentioned above, a varied and diverse cast with their own unique voices is one of the pillars of this series. As you read through the books you will notice that the author invested a lot of time and though on the characters. Each character is there for a reason, their inclusion is meaningful for the plot and for character development. Likewise, another good thing about a series is that you can see how characters change, adapt and grow, and you can see plenty of examples of that with the whole cast of characters throughout this series. Of course this is most notable with the main protagonist Peter Grant and his mentor DCI Thomas Nightingale. As the series progresses and time moves on you can clearly see that they affect one another, and how they’ve grown, changed and adapted from the first book to the latest book, and yet they retained their essence, the thing that makes them – them. I don’t think I can explain this properly, you’ll just have to read the series and see what I’m talking about.
The second and third pillars consist of superb writing, magnificent plot crafting and an interesting idea. The series is a successful fusion of two (sub)genres: urban fantasy and police procedural. Although at first glance these genres could be seen as polar opposites in this case they work seamlessly together and create a vivid and interesting story. The author’s dedication to research and his thoroughness in that department, along with the skilful writing which succeeds in blending his idea, the genres and the story together to form one magnificent whole, so that the reader will have a hard time putting the book down.
As you can clearly see from the text itself, I am trying (and mayhap succeeding? I don’t really know) to cram way too much superlatives and praises for the Rivers of London series and its author – Ben Aaronovitch. 🙂 But if you enjoy urban fantasy crime novels with an interesting and diverse cast of characters you will not go wrong if you get your hands on this series and start reading. OK, your social life might suffer because you just cannot bring yourself to let these books go until you finish the darn thing, but that’s how we readers roll. Sorry folks, these books aren’t gonna read themselves. 😀 Don’t worry, your friends and family still love you, books and all. 🙂 Until next time dear reader(s)!
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