Rivers of London is about Peter Grant, a constable in London, who stumbles upon a magical underworld and is thrust into a grim plot which results in mad crimes where people’s faces fall off.
I was attracted to this book because I like it when authors depict a familiar world with something else lurking underneath and Aaronovitch builds a good world in this novel. It packs a lot into the book, what with having to establish not only the rules of magic in the world, but the way the magical society works, and how that ties in to the main plot of the story. It’s also approached with a wry British humour, and it never loses sight of the fact that the world presented is a tad ridiculous.
That’s not to say it takes itself lightly though, for the crimes depicted here are grisly and gruesome. During the course of the story Peter Grant meets some of the rivers of London, who have physical bodies. There are a few hints given to their powers and other parts of the society, giving a sense of a fleshed-out world without falling into the trap of losing the story in the midst of the world the author is building. The characters were strong and the dialogue was often sharp. I particularly liked Nightingale, Grant’s mentor, and Molly who is someone who resides with Nightingale.
I also liked how the magic in the world as something people in the police force knew about and just tried to ignore it because it was a hassle, so there wasn’t much time wasted in Grant having to convince everyone that what he saw really happened.
Overall I enjoyed it. I think it’s also a bonus if you’re familiar with London so you can visualise the places the characters visit. It’s got a good thrust to it though, so if you like stories where magic blends with the real world this is one you should check out.