Ben Aaronovitch - Shastrix Books

Ben Aaronovitch

Recently reviewed

The Furthest Station

The Furthest Station

29th July 2018

A novella in the Rivers of London series, this book follows pretty much the same pattern as the full-length novels, just in abbreviated form. I almost wonder if it was conceived as a possible idea for a full novel, but turned out to not quite have the legs. All for the best really if so, as it makes an excellent novella.

I’m not entirely clear quite where it fits into the timeline of the stories - I’ve recently read the sixth book, but it felt like this story referred back much more to elements from one of the earlier novels. That said, there wasn’t anything that needed explaining too much to me, and I was along for the ride pretty quickly.

I very much enjoyed dipping my toe back into this world and watching Peter and his friends and colleagues investigating a little stand-alone mystery, with each chapter introducing some new colour. It’s a format I very much approve of for this series, and I hope that more novellas will follow.

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The Hanging Tree

The Hanging Tree

25th March 2018

The sixth Rivers of London novel continues the adventures of magical policeman Peter Grant, investigating slightly paranormal crimes in contemporary London. This time when a teenager dies of an apparent overdose, he’s summoned by his girlfriend’s sister to keep her daughter out of the investigation, which as can be expected doesn’t turn out to be straightforward.

I don’t know if it’s too long since I read the previous book, but I got the impression that I’d missed something, as the characters kept referring back to events that I couldn’t remember, or whether this is intended by the author to hint that some time has passed and that other cases have come and gone in the meantime. I also struggled a little with some aspects of the ongoing plot that runs through the series, as some of the events are a bit hazy in my memory. It’s possible this is the type of series that benefits from occasional re-read-throughs to defamiliarise the reader.

I really love this series, and reading this book has kicked me back into a bit of a reading binge. The only annoyance is that I’ve caught up now with the publication of the Peter Grant books (apart from a novella which I’ll soon devour, probably in one sitting).

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Foxglove Summer

Foxglove Summer

4th May 2017

The fifth Peter Grant novel continues the adventures of a twenty-first century trainee wizard police officer. For the first time, he's left the south-east, London area, and ventured slightly northward into the countryside to take a quick look-in on a missing persons case that might have a tiny suspicion of magical involvement.

As with the whole of the series, it's a great story that follows a compelling character. Aaranovitch paints a picture of a well-fleshed out world viewed through the eyes of someone who is still learning about it, and his slightly-humbling improvised policing and magic techniques make for an excellent balance between comedy and crime.

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Broken Homes

Broken Homes

26th May 2016

The fourth book in the Rivers of London series is another thrilling and mysterious adventure for Peter Grant and his colleagues at The Folly, headquarters of the Metropolitan Police's only wizard division.

There's a lot that serves as confrontation of the series' ongoing plot and I don't think this one really works as a stand-alone without the knowledge of what has gone before. For those who are following the story it offers a lot, including some titbits of background and some major developments.

One of the aspects that I like best about this series is the simplicity of the magic system compared with the rich detail of the London setting. Aaronovitch demonstrates an endless knowledge of the capital and it's diverse cultural heritage which vastly increased the realism and depth of the story.

Quite possibly his best yet, and one which only increases my desire to keep reading.

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Whispers Underground

Whispers Underground

29th December 2015

The third book in the Peter Grant series follows the trainee wizard police officer as he investigates the murder of a student using some magic pottery. It's a great continuation of the ongoing storyline as well, and sees a different mix of characters making an interesting tale.

It's a good adventure and a believable take on a murder mystery story as well along the lines of a modern crime novel. The stories continue to explore some of the less familiar aspects of London, and though there are some similarities with other London-based fantasy come stories that I've read its distinctive enough for that not to bother me.

One of the elements of this book that appealed particularly is the change in the relationships between the characters, which provides for a slightly different dynamic and the exploration of some new ideas and some different humorous moments. Indeed the humour is one of the most satisfying elements of this series in its subtlety and delightfulness, twisting modern life with a touch of fantasy.

With this book I've come to the end of the initial trilogy which I bought in a box set, and I'm now going on the lookout for the rest of the series.

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Moon Over Soho

Moon Over Soho

27th June 2015

The second book in the Peter Grant series, about a trainee wizard policeman in London, is just as good as, if not better than, the first.

There are two cases on the cards for the young constable, one involving the inexplicable death of a jazz musician, and the other a rather brutal attack on a gentleman's parts by some sort of magical creature.

On top of a compelling and fast-moving plot, the repercussions from the first book surround Grant, and I really enjoyed these character moments which really aid the idea that events in this story will have consequences for the characters.

There's also more effort in fleshing out the world, which is something I always enjoy discovering as I read a series of books, and the author gradually feeds the reader parts of a wider backstory that feel like they will continue building towards events to come.

Definitely enjoyable, and definitely a series I will continue to read.

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Rivers of London

Rivers of London

31st December 2014

The first book of a new series and new author for me, following a young police constable, fresh out of training and on the beat as part of the Metropolitan Police where he is rapidly seconded into an unusual unit that deals with investigating the odd. It didn't strike me as a particularly new idea - the urban fantasy setting is similar to several series that I've read before, and even tying that to the idea of an investigator is familiar (e.g.Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, Christopher Fowler's Bryant & May).

That said, this book did immediately capture my attention with its humour and character. Peter Grant, the main character and narrator, is an engaging chap and is believable as a character to align the audience with as he is introduced to the magical world - in a way very much like Harry Potter, where the reader learns with the character. Similarly, there's clearly a lot going on that we're not, as readers, let in on at this stage in the narrative and I'm looking forward to following the story on in the sequels.

The plot itself is interesting, although there were perhaps a few too many strands of narrative to pull together. There are some nice twists and turns and reveals along the way that really do well to keep the reader interested. That said, there are elements that I thought were obvious surprisingly early on but the characters didn't pick up on until later.

Genuinely one of the best comedic urban fantasies that I've read and one that's high up on my favourite books read in 2014.

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Top books

  1. Rivers of London
  2. Whispers Underground
  3. The Furthest Station
  4. Moon Over Soho
  5. The Hanging Tree
  6. Foxglove Summer
  7. Broken Homes