Published in 2011, Rivers of London was the first fantasy novel by Ben Aaronovitch, his previous writing being science fiction and primarily based in the Doctor Who universe.

A more adult, earthier version of The Spook’s Apprentice with plenty of swearing, Aaronovitch manages to weave a comical masterpiece worthy of Tom Holt, with an entirely believable mythology. The mythology of the various rivers in London stays true to the city’s geography and history, showing the city in it’s truest grubby form that both Brit’s and Londoners love.

Narrated by PC Peter Grant, the story follows the constable as he is thrown into the world of the supernatural as he interviews a ghost as the witness of a murder. Whilst not the most academically brilliant person, and lacking in any real talent for policing, Grant is full of curiosity about the world and more cunning than he originally seems. Whilst inexperienced with the world he has been drawn in to, we can thankfully say that he never crosses the line into the annoying and whiney instead accepting his fate a little too stoically.

The story follows Peter as he becomes part of the Metropolitan Police’s little known supernatural department previously comprising of a single member; Inspector Nightingale. From here we meet river sprites, vampires that suck the life out of everything around them and revengeful spirits eager to exact their punishment among those who wronged them.

Grant seems to take all of this a little too much in his stride, even for an officer who has seen many bizarre cases around London. Surely he would have been at least a bit shocked by meeting all these creatures and whatever it is that Molly claims to be. The otherwise extraordinary narrative is dimmed by the apathetic response to the supernatural but Aaronovitch’s remarkable skills still leave us in anticipation of what is next.

The latest book in the Peter Grant series is The Hanging Tree which will be published this year.

The Peter Grant series is as follows:

  • Rivers of London (2011)
  • Moon Over Soho (2011)
  • Whispers Under Ground (2012)
  • Broken Homes (2013)
  • Foxglove Summer (2014)
  • The Hanging Tree (2016)