Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Series: Peter Grant #1Rating: 4/5
Date of Publishing: February 1st 2011Genre: fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery
Publisher: GollanczNumber of Pages: 392


Quote of the Book

“‘Deputy Assistant Commissioner Folsom is particularly worried about any threat to the Royal Opera House,’ said Seawoll. Apparently he was a bit of a connoisseur, having been introduced to Verdi soon after rising to the rank of Commander. A sudden attack of culture snobbery is a common affliction among policemen of a certain rank and age; it’s like a normal midlife crisis only with more chandeliers and foreign languages.”


Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

Disclaimer/Personal Note

An author friend of mine was reading this series a few months back and that’s when it got on my radar – yes, I know, I’m late to the party. Then I went to Dublin for the WorldCon and picked up the paperback of Rivers of London – if I had been smart enough I would have checked Gollancz’s signing schedule and could get it signed too the next day. I didn’t and that’s still my biggest regret.

Song of the Book

Decyfer Down is a Christian rock band, and the lyrics of The River probably has more religious meaning if you dig into it, so it’s probably not the best pick for a book which deals with different deities. But if I detach that layer, I think the song fits really well to the book. And I really couldn’t NOT pick a song about rivers, now could I?

I decided to pick the unplugged version sang by the lead singer, becuse I just found this and holy shit, this guy had an incredible voice. I mean, I knew he did, but OMG he is crazy good.


Peter Grant is pretty much an ordinary London constable – with a thirst for “useless” knowledge – until the day a man is murdered in Covent Garden and he has a friendly chat with the ghost of Nick Wallpenny, who witnessed the whole thing. Soon he finds himself assigned to Thomas Nightingale, a wizard who is the leader of a department within the Met which is tolerated but not really liked. Still, they need them as they are the only ones who can deal with the supernatural elements of any given crime investigation.

And Peter is being thrown right in the deep water as he both tries to solve the mysterious – and really ugly – deaths of people who acted strangely before their inevitable ends and keep the peace between Father Thames and Mama Thames and their respective offsprings.

I happen to like murder mysteries and it’s not much of a secret that I freaking love London, so Rivers of London (and the whole Peter Grant series) is like a match made in heaven for me. Naturally I had really high expectations, and I wasn’t disappointed. Though I wasn’t madly in love either. Not that it’ll stop me from reading the rest of the series.

There are two plotlines which are mostly separated from each other, except when Peter gets some info and/or help from one deity or the other to push him forward with the investigation. I enjoyed reading about the murder mystery and the way things were unfurled, though I probably would have puzzled some things out sooner if I was actually familiar with Punch and Judy. I think the biggest issue that I couldn’t entirely get myself immersed in this book was that I realised I’m not as well informed about British culture as I thought I was. The other thing is that I was a bit more interested in the conflict between the two deities of the Thames who were fighting over the rule of London. Peter had to untangle old grudges and hurts to find a solution to resolve the peace. I absolutely loved the idea of every river and brooke having a being attached to it who were either the children of Mama Thames of Father Thames. I kept wishing I could read more about the conflict, about their lives and generally if they had much more role in the events.

I liked Peter as a character, though I couldn’t completely connect with him yet. I think we’ll need a bit more time together to form a bond. His sarcasm is definitely something I admire.

“Under the vaulted arch of its white iron and glass roof it was as if IKEA had been hired to refit St Pancras Station. If Thomas the Tank Engine had been Swedish, then his living room would have looked just like this.
Although he probably would have been a lot less cheerful.”

Also the way he tries to solve a problem – with wit rather than violence and power. He and Lesley – his former partner – are a good team and they had good chemistry. I’m not quite sure where to put Nightingale yet. He is pretty secretive and not much of a help when it comes to magic and teaching. I couldn’t get a handle yet on his personality, but I presume he has many layers yet to discover.

Overall I did enjoy Rivers of London. It had some really good ideas and the mystery kept me guessing until the endgame, but the characters fell a bit flat for me. I think there is a lot of room for improvement in the series, but Rivers of London being the first book, it definitely set the base for a great series. I can see why many people seem to love it, and though we need to work on each other a bit more, I believe we’ll get there in the end.

Available: Amazon, Barnes & NobleAuthor website: http://www.the-folly.com/