Ben Aaronovitch - Shastrix Books

Ben Aaronovitch

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Body Work

Body Work

Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Lee Sullivan & Luis Guerrero

1st June 2022

I’m not typically one for graphic novels - but after reading the latest Rivers of London novel I finally decided that I was missing out on story by not consuming this format too, and so started here at the beginning.

This is the tale of an investigating into haunted cars.

The format remains I think not my favourite. I struggle to recognise the illustrator’s depictions of the characters from the visions I had formed in my head, particularly Nightingale and Molly. And I find that my eyes only really want to focus on the words. There was one place where the experience felt really disjointed, which I think might have been a transition where the issues where split when this was published as comics, and it didn’t really give any explanation of the transition or repetition of some scenes.

However the story itself was good, and I enjoyed filling in some of the gaps in the characters’ lives. I found it interesting that there seems to be more time spent away from Peter, when not tied exclusively to his first person narrative, and seeing particularly more from Nightingale felt like a new take.

I don’t know if I will continue reading these graphic novels - I suspect it will depend on what sort of prices I can find them at.

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Amongst Our Weapons

Amongst Our Weapons

Ben Aaronovitch

7th May 2022

Rivers of London 9 sees Peter and his surprisingly large group of friends now investigating some suspicious deaths and rings.

It is again a really enjoyable narrative and explores a variety of London locations and beyond. This book in particular felt like it’s really widening the worldbuilding and we’re seeing much more of what goes on outside the Folly. I feel like a re-read of the whole series might be in order soon though, as there is so much that’s happened I sometimes struggle to remember it all.

This book in particular stood out for its excellent representation. The characters are pulled from a really diverse pool of British residents, including notably disabled and LGBTQ characters as well as the usual range of ethnicities and genders (plus spirits and foxes of course). I was really happy to see this.

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Tales from the Folly

Tales from the Folly

Ben Aaronovitch

30th May 2021

The first tale is short and is a tie-in for the 2012 Olympics. It doesn’t seem a huge contribution to the series but is a welcome refresher of the style and a nice trip into the world.

The second tale is a fantastical twist on everyday policing, comfortable and reassuring in its telling.

Story number three is a jolly tale about a bookshop, although I suspect I was a bit too tired for reading it properly. I’m not a huge fan of the ebook format and having to read on my screen so possibly that had an effect too.

Number four is the tale of a chance encounter at a motorway services. It’s an amusing little investigation that was a fun diversion to read.

Entry the fifth is a story to tie-in with the underground Mail Rail, and fits neatly in to several of the overarching themes of the series.

The sixth story is set in the British Library, and is a fun little exploratory adventure.

After this we move on to stories from the points of view of other characters, and the first of these is a delightful little horror story of a drug dealer who has an encounter near a river.

Then we get a tale from Abigail’s point of view. This is my favourite yet - it’s Christmas focussed, exposits more about the character, and contains a perfect amount of mystery and intrigue.

The next story is about Vanessa Sommer, from the Germany-set spin-off novella, heading home for Christmas. It’s a great little “what if” tale that explores how someone might react to learning about magic in adulthood.

The final of the short stories proper revisits some guest characters I barely remember from earlier in the series, and continues their adventures in this world.

The rest of the book is made up of ‘moments’, pretty much just individual stand-alone scenes of character background, that help to paint the world that little bit richer.

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What Abigail Did That Summer

What Abigail Did That Summer

Ben Aaronovitch

17th April 2021

This Rivers of London novella is set a good few years ago, and it was a bit of a mental leap for me to place it correctly in the timeline of the stories, as well as the timeline of the real world. Abigail is the cousin of usual main character Peter Grant, and for this story we join her and her friends as she investigates mysterious goings on around Hampstead Heath.

It’s a great short novel, mixing a lot of character work and social commentary on top of a somewhat creepy plot.

I’m a big fan of the way that Aaronovitch writes his characters and their narration. Although I’m probably not the best judge, his writing feels to me as if it has an authenticity that exceeds that of many other authors. I’m also grateful and amused by the footnotes that attempt to explain the slang. It seems clear that the author has put a lot of effort into researching everything.

An enjoyable aside, as are all the shorter tales in this universe, which just makes me want a new full-length novel even more.

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False Value

False Value

Ben Aaronovitch

22nd March 2020

The eight full-length novel in the Peter Grant / Rivers of London series is happily back in the territory of the stand-alone adventure, after the previous novel’s slightly confusing attempt to wrap up some ongoing plot threads. We meet Peter, recently having left the police, as he begins a new job as a security guard for a high tech business in London.

I mean, it’s great. The plot takes some real world elements and adds some magical twists, the character’s lives keep moving along outside this at a realistic pace. The cast of characters is as rich, detailed, and amusing as always, and the interactions between the characters are great fun.

This novel contains a great collection of references and jokes - particularly to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series - as well as some humour at its own expense, particularly around how the character has come to speak in policese. I’m not sure how well this would work for readers who aren’t familiar with the source material of these references - but then I don’t know whether the Venn diagram of readers will have a large segment of Aaronovitch but not Adams readers.

The one thing that always throws me about this series though continues - a feeling that I’ve missed something. Between each novel it seems that things have been happening to the characters - almost like they have real lives and we are only seeing brief windows in the novels. But this always leaves me feeling slightly confused about some elements and unsure whether they are things I’ve forgotten, or things I’m just meant to infer from the text.

Overall though, another really fantastic novel.

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The October Man

The October Man

Ben Aaronovitch

22nd July 2019

A fascinating spin-off from the Rivers of London series, this novella is set in Germany, with the German equivalent of Peter Grant starring as a trainee magical police officer, investigating crimes with mystical involvement.

It contains a number of familiar elements that clearly place it in the same universe, and the odd tip of the hat to readers of the main series - yet could easily serve as a short introduction, as there’s no prior knowledge necessary to enjoy the story, which features an investigation into a mysterious death.

What I loved the most was in the narrative. It’s written in first person, and clearly depicted as having been translated from the original German - and this comes across wonderfully in the use of German idioms. This level of attention to detail made me chuckle and enjoy the book even more.

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Lies Sleeping

Lies Sleeping

Ben Aaronovitch

28th April 2019

Somehow the seventh novel in the Peter Grant / Rivers of London series, this story sees some of the ongoing plot come to a head.

As with some of the other stories, there’s a vague sense as I read it of having missed something, which makes me feel like I’ve forgotten a previous story but I think is just a reference to things that are happening ‘off camera’ in the space between the novels.

I continue to love this series, and find it hard to put the books down. The characters are compelling, bearing a rich and textured backstory that we’re still only gradually picking apart, and evolving social lives, which paint them into a wider world of magic and the mystical, while still allowing the presence of a solid plot to progress.

A series I totally recommend reading.

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Other reviewed books

The Furthest Station
The Hanging Tree
Foxglove Summer
Broken Homes
Whispers Underground
Moon Over Soho
Rivers of London

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