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Rivers of London (2011)

by Ben Aaronovitch

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Rivers of London (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,1302981,982 (3.9)602
Probationary constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London's Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he'll face is a paper cut. But Peter's prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter's ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.… (more)
  1. 310
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (riverwillow)
    riverwillow: Both 'Neverwhere' and 'Rivers of London' (US title 'Midnight Riot') evoke a magical fairy tale London which sometimes feels more authentic then any real life guide to the city.
  2. 234
    Storm Front by Jim Butcher (majkia)
    majkia: both involve paranormal mystery and smart-ass dialog.
  3. 82
    A Madness of Angels: Or, the Resurrection of Matthew Swift by Kate Griffin (TheDivineOomba)
    TheDivineOomba: Same Location, similar themes. Both Capture the essence of London.
  4. 82
    The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: It's difficult to explain this recommendation without giving spoilers to one or other of the books. There were certain plot elements to Rivers of London/Midnight Riots which made me think of The Big Over Easy. And both books have a well-developed sense of humour.… (more)
  5. 50
    The Rook by Daniel O'Malley (Rubbah)
  6. 40
    Rule 34 by Charles Stross (fhprice)
    fhprice: Besides the urban setting and police procedural genre similarities, both have protagonists with a snarky "we're just cogs making witty observations about the machine" voices. Wicked humor.
  7. 62
    Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Both books have a certain dark British humour to them.
  8. 30
    Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (Mav.Weirdo)
  9. 30
    Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: The way that the river spirits are characterized is similar to the characters in Archer's Goon. Same feel/style.
  10. 20
    Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older (rarm)
  11. 20
    King Rat by China Miéville (mikewilliams64)
    mikewilliams64: London urban fantasy with malevolent magic in the wings. Sharp contemporary horror from the beginning of Mieville's career
  12. 10
    Stray Souls by Kate Griffin (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Both are a bit quirky, set in London, and deal with the spirits of things, magic and murder.
  13. 10
    Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman (LongDogMom)
  14. 10
    The New York Magician by Jacob Zimmerman (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Both books have a similar way of portraying Gods and Powers and both are urban fantasy/mysteries
  15. 10
    No Hero by Jonathan Wood (Rouge2507)
    Rouge2507: Similar: British policeman fights against the supernatural
  16. 10
    Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood by Christopher Fowler (hairball)
    hairball: Two books with Punch & Judy-themed murders--must be something in the water in London.
  17. 11
    Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw (andreas.wpv)
    andreas.wpv: Different type of protagonist and friends, but dealing with the un- or supernatural, solving crimes and preventing disasters. This is very similar though in style and tone, mood of the story. It is tense, yes, but holds no horror or exceeding brutality. The protagonist is human, and like a human, and the story has an undercurrent of kindness that many novels miss. And it is funny at times, from gentle humor to laugh out loud.… (more)
  18. 11
    Never the Bride by Paul Magrs (jonathankws)
  19. 00
    The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Both series feature British police who deal with supernatural crime and both are more creative and well written than the average urban fantasy
  20. 00
    Nightfall by Stephen Leather (agneson9)
    agneson9: features supernatural/paranormal side of London

(see all 23 recommendations)


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» See also 602 mentions

English (291)  German (4)  Norwegian (2)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (300)
Showing 1-5 of 291 (next | show all)
Really good book. I like how thought out the magic rules are for the setting, making them familiar to fans of, for example, the Harry Dresden novels, while still being their own thing. The mystery itself is also very well written, and incredibly enjoyable, with interesting characters and well done prose. ( )
  Count_Zero | Jul 7, 2020 |
So I picked this book since it was published in 2011 and met the criteria for my BL space. I am glad I finally got around to reading it, since I've been meaning to for more than two months.

I liked the main character, Peter Grant. I also enjoyed his teacher/master Nightingale and the weird setup they had with Molly (whose a maid) and their dog Toby. That said, I wish the world building had been tighter. There's a lot of you have to wait til you are trained longer scenes and I felt like Peter was just flying by the seat of his pants. Also, Peter's libido and his attraction to every female it felt like got a bit wearing after a while. It was good though to read about a biracial police (peace) officer in London working for a special magical division. Think Harry Dresden meets Dr. Who.

I thought that the first POV by Peter Grant was a good idea. I now wish though maybe we could have slid into Nightingale's head a bit too. Peter I don't think was written consistently throughout the book. We are initially told he just drifts off during police scenes and does not have what it takes to be a detective like his friend Leslie. But when someone notices Peter's special abilities, he is picked to work with Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England.

Other characters I wish had been developed more. I was pretty tired of the character of Beverly by the end. Leslie I liked, but she disappeared for whole sections of the book. We can't find out much about Nightingale. And Peter's parents are referred to and never seen, except for a small part of the book (his father) and I don't get why we met him. There were tons of characters in this one and think that at one point it was just a bit too much.

We have some training montages that don't make a lick of sense and Nightingale and Peter doing what they can to stop an unknown person from taking over people's bodies to the point their faces are split wide open. FYI hope you don't eat while reading this book it's gross. I think if the author had focused on that, the book would have been stronger. Instead, we also have Peter and Nightingale getting involved with Father Thames and Mother Thames (yes rivers are real walking and talking people turned into something else) which took too much time away from the main plot.

The writing at times was hilarious. I did laugh at some references I got, about Doctor Who here and there. I will say, if you haven't watched a lot of British procedurals I think you may become a but lost. The flow was up and down. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. I felt like this could have been two stories split up into different books. Not one plot was strong to stand on because the other plot was constantly popping back up.

The setting is modern day England with magic and ghosts. And there's references to agreements in place and incidents. Things like this made it a frustrating read. I assume things get clarified in the next book.

The ending was good and of course now I'm worried about the fate of several people I got invested in while reading this book. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Brisk, funny book steeped in the details of modern London. A police mystery incorporating ghosts, genii loci, the warring spirits of the Thames, and the origin of the Punch and Judy show. First in a series and I'm going to read the second (I generally don't). ( )
  dmturner | Jun 29, 2020 |
2.5 stars

After having an impromptu conversation with a ghost, Constable Peter Grant finds himself the apprentice of a wizard and investigating a myriad of supernatural cases in modern London, including murdering revenants and quarrelling river spirits.

Urban Fantasy is not my usual cup of tea, but I do like them on occasion and this one intrigued me with its setting. Unlike America (where most UFs I’ve read have taken place), I have actually been to London (Like…once…but it still counts! I know my way to Forbidden Planet, goddangit!). London is just so wonderfully…uhm…urban(!), and Aaronovitch dedicates a lot of his book to evoke the feel and smell of his chosen city. Combine that with the author’s distinct British language and humour, and you have the foundation for a good Urban Fantasy environment, as well as the very best parts of Rivers of London.

Because other than setting and language, the book does not have much else to recommend it. At the moment of writing this review, it’s been 2-3 days since I finished the book and I can honestly say I’ve already forgotten most about it. Not to mention the last hundred pages took forever to read, because it was boring and I wasn’t the least bit invested.

The plot revolves around Peter solving a string of murders of supernatural origin. I did not care about that at all. A second plot line sees Peter trying to solve a dispute between Mama Thames and Papa Thames, two river spirits occupying different parts of the same river. This was slightly more interesting, and gives a nice taste of the fantastical world which we’re just barely getting to know in this first part of the series.

As far as characters go…hm…didn’t work for me, and let me try to explain why. When you read a book (this is how it works for me anyway) you imagine the characters and the events kind of like a movie in your head. The better the author, the better and more detailed you can imagine the scenes. All but one of the characters, and Peter most especially, walked through the story with completely blank facial expressions in my head. I never felt anything of what the characters felt. Fear? No. Excitement? No. Happiness? Nope! The only exception is the not-sure-what-she-is-but-she-creepy housekeeper Molly (my favourite!).

In the end this book gets 2.5 stars from me, which is like the bad side of “meh”.
( )
  LadyDarbanville | Jun 28, 2020 |
I don't know if I was just not in the mood for this type of book, or what. It just wasn't my cup of tea, not what I was expecting. I can recognize the unique-ness of it, and I did enjoy the great detail of the city of London, obviously the author loves it there and has spent a lot of time exploring and looking at maps, etc. It was all just a little slow for me. I think I was expecting it to be less introspective? I will look into the follow up book, but not sure if I will go beyond that. All that said, I would recommend people at least giving it a chance, I liked it, I just didn't love it as much as I was hoping to. ( )
  expatb | Jun 8, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 291 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Aaronovitch, Benprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dürr, KarlheinzTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Domis, BenoîtTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holdbrook-Smith, KobnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knowles, PeterCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mussarra, Joan JosepTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quadrelli, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walter, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youssi, WesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Yet ah! why should they know their fate?

Since sorrow never comes too late,

And happiness too swiftly flies.

Thought would destroy their paradise.

No more; where ignorance is bliss,

'Tis folly to be wise.

Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College by Thomas Gray
In memory of Colin Ravey, because some people are too large to be contained by just the one universe.
First words
It started at one thirty on a cold Tuesday morning in January when Martin Turner, street performer and, in his own words, apprentice gigolo, tripped over a body in front of the West Portico of St Paul's at Covent Garden.
He sliced it in half to show us the interior. It looked like a diseased cauliflower.
”And this ,” said Dr. Walid, “is your brain on magic.”
I returned to the coach house with a packet of marigold gloves and my Uncle Tito’s Numatic vacuum cleaner. Let me tell you – a thousand watts of suckage makes a big difference
The chip that handled RF conversion was superficially intact, but had suffered microscopic pitting across its entire surface. The patterns reminded me of Mr. Coopertown’s brain. This was my phone on magic, I thought.
(Tyburn discounts Peter’s authority over the Folly) - “I am a sworn constable,” I said. “And that makes me an officer of the law. And I am an apprentice, which makes me a keeper of the sacred flame, but most of all I am a free man of London and that makes me a Prince of the City.”
Mr. Punch was running for his afterlife, but I was gaining.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Haiku summary
The name's Peter Grant.
I'm a police constable
and trainee wizard.
Complex plot features
river gods and goddesses,
old magic and ghosts.
Down by the river:

“Get yer trousers on, you're nicked…

Despite being dead.”

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