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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly excellent
I was given this for Christmas, and only just got around to reading it 5 months later. The back sleeve blurb put me off and I had no idea how good this was going to be. I was hooked by the end of the second page.
It reminds me of the very best Doctor Who episodes of the current writing team. Totally fantastic and improbable and even ridiculous in places, and yet...
Published on 6 May 2012 by A. Dunlop

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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Engaging start to a new urban fantasy series
Ben Aaronovitch is a successful screenwriter who has worked mainly in the fantasy and science fiction genres. 'Rivers of London' is the first novel in the series of the same name. It's probably best described as urban fantasy.

The city in question is London, and the fantasy element arises in the intersection of the modern, gritty London we all know and another,...
Published on 27 Jun 2011 by Paul Bowes


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly excellent, 6 May 2012
By 
A. Dunlop "Delphi" (Chester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rivers of London: 1 (Paperback)
I was given this for Christmas, and only just got around to reading it 5 months later. The back sleeve blurb put me off and I had no idea how good this was going to be. I was hooked by the end of the second page.
It reminds me of the very best Doctor Who episodes of the current writing team. Totally fantastic and improbable and even ridiculous in places, and yet mesmerising in it's telling. I think that the fantasy works so well because of the bits in between that are so believably placed in reality. In fact, the humdrum and very humourous descriptions of day to day police work are actually what make the book so entertaining in the end. (I haven't been so entertained and delighted by a book since I reread The Hobbit).
I will most definitely be buying the next book in the series.
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106 of 112 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Combine science and magic? Sure, why not?, 15 Mar 2011
By 
J. Lesley "(Judy)" (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rivers of London (Hardcover)
It is always such a pleasure for me to find an author who manages to write a book that piques my interest and holds my attention. Both are true here because Ben Aaronovitch created something new for me. Normally when I read an urban fantasy book the plot requires that all those involved in that world are aware of the magic components active all around them. In this book that is not the case. Probationary PC Peter Grant had been left to guard a crime scene when he met a ghost. Not just any ghost either, no, this one was a witness to the crime. In very short order PC Grant finds himself assigned to a unit of the Metropolitan Police which up until he joined it had only one other member, a wizard. Peter is now on his way to becoming an apprentice wizard, learning magic and trying to help solve the crimes of completely unexplained violence which are breaking out all over London. Peter's best answer is to use his interest in scientific knowledge and experimentation in conjunction with the magic to explain some of the things that are happening.

I really enjoyed this book for its humor and the unusual combination of scientific investigation paired with utilizing magic. It put a different spin on the plot for me by having the entire London scene be so solidly in the present time, with the citizens of that great city completely unaware of the magic or the horrors within their city. I also enjoyed the great amount of research this author has obviously done regarding the many rivers around London. And to have each of them portrayed as an individual character was quite a successful undertaking. I also want to compliment those responsible for the artwork map on the cover of this book. No matter how many times I look at it I keep finding names of areas or a street that I recognize. I have to admit that, as an American, there were just a few times when I felt a little lost because I didn't understand some of the English slang or references, but it was certainly not anything that kept me from enjoying the novel. Book two, Moon Over Soho, is next in the series and if this one is anything to go by it should be another fascinating reading experience.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Engaging start to a new urban fantasy series, 27 Jun 2011
By 
Paul Bowes (Wales, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Rivers of London (Hardcover)
Ben Aaronovitch is a successful screenwriter who has worked mainly in the fantasy and science fiction genres. 'Rivers of London' is the first novel in the series of the same name. It's probably best described as urban fantasy.

The city in question is London, and the fantasy element arises in the intersection of the modern, gritty London we all know and another, more shadowy city in which magic is an alternative form of knowledge and the contemporary streets overlie deep strata of history, legend and myth and hidden circuits of power. Aaronovitch brings these threads together in the story of a young mixed-race constable in the Metropolitan Police who must somehow operate in both worlds to solve mysteries and crimes with a supernatural element.

Aaronovitch's style will be immediately familiar to anyone who has followed British fantasy writing over the last decade. More sophisticated in the writing than J. K. Rowling, 'Rivers of London' still has a rather young-adult feel when compared to the best writers who have taken London as a rich hunting ground - I'm thinking here of Iain Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd in particular. Perhaps more pertinently, I also found it less interesting than the work of China Miéville and Neil Gaiman.

As one might expect from a novelist with Aaronovitch's professional pedigree, there are few of the typical first-novel problems. The book is carefully plotted and maintains interest throughout. Given the nature of the story, which moves fluidly between the late eighteenth century and the present day, there is a lot of research-based detail. This is woven into the texture of the narrative in a reasonably unobtrusive manner, but it's fair to say that it's Aaronovitch's fellow Londoners who are most likely to appreciate it. This London is buzzing, theatrical, multi-ethnic and relentlessly up-to-the-moment, but I felt that Aaronovitch's heart lay more in its past. There is a certain flatness in the depictions of the present-day city, as though a new set of clichés familar from recent television had supplanted the old 'cheeky Cockneys, friendly bobbies' stereotype.

'Rivers of London' is a pleasant, engaging read from a writer who promises better. Fans of modern fantasy will certainly enjoy it. It will be interesting to see how the series develops.
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84 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely nothing like what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the Fuzz, 13 July 2011
This review is from: Rivers of London (Hardcover)
For once an urban fantasy that actually is an urban fantasy, with not a poxy Doc Martened elf in sight, thank god: part very well researched police procedural, part Sorcerer's Apprentice - and this is a real apprenticeship, where results come from sheer slog and perseverance, not from waving a magic wand - part gruesome murder hunt, part otherworldly politicking, and part - and this is my favourite part by far - a carefully detailed map of Central London, written by one who knows and loves the place as it should be loved, all of it narrated by likeable Everyman Peter Grant, an adequate enough probationary constable who's just a bit too curious for his own good (while his colleagues are breaking up a riot in Trafalgar Square, he stops to check what's written on the lions' bums). Peter crosses the line between one world and another and, in the process, is saved from a future of data entry in the Case Progression Unit, one cold morning in Covent Garden, when he's left guarding a crime scene and a witness steps forward from St Paul's Church - a witness who has been dead for considerably longer than the body under investigation.

Rivers of London isn't perfect - there are a lot of open questions left hanging, and some of the plot resolutions don't entirely make sense - but it is bloody good, and one of the best things I've read in many years. Good enough that I went straight out and bought the sequel. In hardback.

Ignore Diana Gabaldon's stupid cover blurb, by the way. I'll do her the credit of believing she was misquoted.

Don't expect to learn too much about the actual lost rivers of London, though. That's a fascinating topic in itself, but one for another book entirely.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, entertaining escapism., 15 April 2011
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There are so many glowing reviews here already, so I can be brief. There is adult humour and believable characterisation (in a fantasy!). The police characters work within a framework of modern procedures and ethos. The magical characters maintain a step removed from reality, and those in the know strugle to reconcile both positions. Sometimes I like a novel which I can read for fun, but which has originality, depth and complexity. I did't want to reach the end. I can't wait for Ben's next one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll want to climb inside the book and explore the world, 30 Oct 2014
This review is from: Rivers of London: 1 (Paperback)
Never has a rainy afternoon impulse buy turned out to be such a gem. The author manages to create characters you feel an attachment to quite effortlessly, without ever resorting to overly-long backstories or tedious details. In fact, it's so well done that I hadn't even realised the attachment until one of them is placed in jeopardy and I found myself surprised at how worried I was they would come through it.

The magic and fantasy aspect has a consistency so strong you could almost believe it *could* exist in real life and the faithful use of London landmarks and realistic (but never intrusive) portrayal of police procedure really helps to sustain the illusion that this is a world just out of reach of our own - but only barely so.

Ultimately you can judge a book by how you feel at the end. The end left me sad that it was over and desperate to see more of the characters and the world they live in. Also, I've never before experienced a book that left you seeing familiar places in a new way, but after reading Rivers of London I find myself looking at Covent Garden and other places differently - and that's a nice feeling.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 23 Mar 2011
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This review is from: Rivers of London (Hardcover)
One of the few books I have been able to read in one day for many years; mind you having the flu helped. I really got into the characters and I found the use of the old London and new London "gods" very effective. (Having lived near Purley for many years, I can well believe that vampires live in grasmere road).

Looking forward to the next in the series and some back information about the characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars American Gods for England, 29 Sep 2014
By 
Becca (Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rivers of London: 1 (Paperback)
Rivers of London took a lot of getting in to. It was one of those books I had picked up four or five times before, only to become disinterested after a couple of pages. It has sat on my bookshelf for over a year, mournfully watching as other books were taken out and rushed through, and I finally caved in and determined to read it last week.

The best way to describe the experience of reading the book was to say that it explains everything and nothing. It's written in the first person perspective, and Aaronovitch is a star at describing both characters and London locales, but when Peter Grant realises something about the case he's investigating it's not always relayed terribly well to the reader. This is fine for normal police procedural books, but when you factor in the mythos Aaronovitch is trying to build, sometimes it can lead to a bit of confusion. Especially when Grant is told what to do, but doesn't share these instructions at all - and then he carries them out and you're left wondering how much of them were instructions and how much him winging it, which doesn't allow the reader to evaluate how well Grant is doing with his training.

And really, this is the only fault I can find with the book. The rest of it is simply stellar. Well-written, plot-driven and with a wry sense of humour, it felt as though I were reading a Neil Gaiman book as seen through Terry Pratchett's lens, and then finally written down by M. R. James. (I can't agree with the quote on the front that boasts it's like Harry Potter but for grown-ups, because A) Harry Potter is already for grown ups and B) the tone and story of the book feels nothing like Harry Potter, at all, ever. So if you picked it up for that, I'm afraid you will be disappointed.)

It's not for everyone and can be pretty gory and disturbing at times given the eventual culprit, but if you're a fan of realistic fantasy then I'd definitely recommend it. Just give it a few pages.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very different police procedural, 4 Aug 2012
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A typical London copper, at the end of his first two years on the beat, stumbles into a case involving ghosts, magic and river deities. Enough to give anyone pause, but to make matter worse, Pc Peter Grant finds himself seconded to the Met Police team who deal with "weird stuff" - meaning that a malevolent spirit haunting central London and its inhabitants doesn't mean he doesn't have to do his paperwork.

It's an interesting mix of magic realism and standard police procedural, and Aaranovitch has created a likeable main character in Peter Grant, fresh out of uniform, quite taken with the magic, but already carrying a practised air of world-weariness.

The books has a fun, interesting concept, decent pacing, and a decent cast of characters. All in all, a good, fun read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rivers of London, 30 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Rivers of London: 1 (Paperback)
I read this for a book group and was captivated in the first paragraph. The story is a complicated read (for me anyway!) but stick with it because it is fascinating and exciting. It really gripped my imagination and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that I ordered the next book in the series and pre-booked the 3rd one.
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