“Rivers of London” by Ben Aaronovitch – Orginal, witty fantasy with deep roots in London

rivers-of-london-289x300This audiobook is a delight from start to finish (and it didn’t take long to finish – I consumed the whole thing in two compulsion-driven days).

The book is deeply rooted in contemporary, multicultural, London, with a strong sense of place and of history that is polished and intensified through the lens of the tongue-in-cheek political correctness of the Metropolitan Police, and garlanded with figures from London myth who are at once as modern and as ancient as the city itself.

Wit is sprinkled like hot sauce throughout this books with references to contemporary fiction (Black Adder, Twilight, Harry Potter, Coronation Street), colourful similes, clever wordplay and a well-developed sense of the absurdity of daily life.

The mixed-race background of the main character is used to draw out the multi-cultural nature of London and its long history of taking people from around the world and making them into Londoners within one generation.

The plot is driven by the main character’s insatiable curiosity to know how things work (I’m easily distracted) and his need to do whatever is necessary to preserve the Queen’s Peace (we’re the ones who run towards the screams) and powered by magic and evil.

The book lays a glamour on a place I know well and turns it into somewhere I would like to know better.

It is, at heart, an optimistic, civilized, book, filled with chaos and compromise and unspoken agreements and recognition of subtle affiliations. Our hero does the right thing by being himself, taking care of his friends, showing pride but being respectful and muddling through until the job is done. I found the whole thing wonderfully British, or at least, how I would like being British to be.

I’ve already downloaded the next two in the series.

If you’d like to hear an extract from “The Rivers Of London”, click on the SoundCloud link below:

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