I read Rivers of London at a bad time. I’d just read Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson and absolutely loved the book, feeling it a pinnacle of post-Tolkien fantasy. I raved about that book.
So of course anything I read after that was going to feel like a come-down no matter how much it delivered, right? Except Rivers of London didn’t feel like a come-down at all, and I feel that’s testament to just how good a book it is.
Sure the long sentence construction threw me but only for a page or two. That’s one of the strengths of this book. It grabs you from the start and whisks you along, and you in turn keep turning pages. I’ve found myself longing to get back to this book in-between reads.
It’s X-Files meets The Bill premise is a simple enough one, it even sounds slightly corny. But it’s carried off very, very well. The characters are likable, and the story twists and turns so much that you feel you’ve read a lot larger book. Yet despite all the story, it never loses direction nor momentum.
It also has its funny moments, those wry little asides and observations that make you smirk. I’d worried seeing one of these examples because in that case it was laced with sexual innuendo and those types of jokes can get old very fast. But I need not have worried, it’s not overdone, and the central character of Peter Grant is very likable.
There’s also a lot of information in these pages. Peter is presented as a bit of a facts nerd very early on in the story. As a result, when he relays information about a location or person, it doesn’t feel like an infodump. It’s actually something you look forward to, as it adds rather than detracts from the story.
As a result, London is really presented with character. Arronovitch has managed to capture the spirit of London, and not just in the titular rivers. I had great fun having Google Streetview open as I read, viewing the locations as I read them. Sure there’s probably a bit of artistic license in there, but you got the impression that these were all locations the author knew.
I think this novel is just crying out for sequels (the next is due in April thankfully), but more than that, I think if the BBC or ITV did a TV Series based on the characters it would be a massive hit. Either way, I hope it carries on for many, many more books.
Liz De Jager and Amanda Rutter were the people responsible for recommending this book to me, and I thank them for it. It really is a fantastic book and I’m already looking forward to the sequels.