Do you know what brings a lot of satisfaction in life? A book you weren’t sure about turning out to be frickin’ amazing!
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch tells the story of Peter Grant, a probationary constable who winds up as a Detective Constable and trainee wizard. Now, if the blurb of the actual book had mentioned the term “wizard”, I would have been excited right from the start. But the only thing that initially intrigued me about this book was a review which claimed Peter Grant is Harry Potter had he grown up and joined the Metropolitan Police (side note: you could argue that he did with the Ministry of Magic. Right?).
Despite early scepticism, I was hooked on Rivers of London just one chapter in. This story is very original and not like any I had read before. Yes, I did make a slight comparison to Harry Potter but slight is the key word here. There was magic, yes, but the theme lay more with the supernatural than anything else (Grant realises he has a “gift” when he takes a witness statement from a dead man).
If you are not a fan of magic, then don’t click off this review just yet. For sure, this is a book directed toward a more mature age and includes sexual references and murder descriptions you wouldn’t necessarily read your 10-year-old at bedtime. Also, it is extremely witty and full of the dry British humour you just have to love. This goes well with the more serious aspects of the book. It shows just how good a writer is when they can successfully combine the paranormal with Dante references and still include laugh out loud moments.
In terms of the book’s characters, there are none who were completely unlikable. But for me, the star of the show was the leading character, Peter Grant. It is Grant who brings most of the wit to the story. He is the character you root for and the one whose personality connects most with us ordinary folk. He is also a personification of London. His constant references and mentions of little details such as tube stops and street names really made the city come to life. The best thing, though, was that he was a modern character: a young black male. You don’t see many of those in books. Of course, this led to some racial references throughout the story. However, they weren’t too heavy and were relayed more in a casual, tell it like it is kinda way.
Finally, my day was made when I found out that this book is in fact of a series. Rejoice the book gods! I can’t wait to get my hands on the next instalment. In the meantime, I wholly recommend you jump on the bandwagon with Rivers of London.