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Rivers of London (UK) / Midnight Riot (US) by Ben Aaronovitch

Good books quite frequently come into my life because of Thomas, and that’s the case with this one too. Thanks.

Peter Grant’s life is about to change. He’s been working as a probationary constable for the Metropolitan Police and is now about to get transferred to a more permanent posting. He’s a bit worried about what kind of posting it might be, wanting to avoid ending up as a paper pusher. Then one night he takes a witness statement from a long dead man, and this rather uncanny ability brings him to the attention of Inspector Nightingale. The inspector is the last wizard in England and he is about to take on his first apprentice in 50 years. Peter quickly learns that there is a lot more to London, its rivers and the world than he ever knew. He definitely had no idea that the rivers could be that sexy.

This is all the spoiling I’ll do, but the people I link to further down do a lot more spoiling in case you’re interested.

This was fun. I had the best time. Peter is an engaging hero. Smart, but not too smart. Fumbling, but not too fumbling. Also he has a rather scientific way of figuring out how magic works, something I find really nice. The story moves along at a nice pace and take some unexpected turns, a bit like a river. Unexpected turns, engaging characters and good jokes is a sure sell when it comes to me. I got a lot of the jokes, but I’m sure I missed a lot of them too as I’m not from England.

I got really curious about the geography of the real rivers of London while I read this book, so it was good to find this web page about London’s Lost Rivers (you can click the map to enlarge it).

I must admit that I was not surprised when I learned that Ben Aaronovitch has been involved with Doctor Who. There’s something about the humour, timing and mix of dread and comedy that you find in DW that you also find in this book. No Tardis though.

If you want fun urban fantasy that isn’t too deep, this is the book for you.

While I now can see that both titles are relevant for the book I still don’t see why the US version has to have another title than the UK version. Personally I find the title “Rivers of Lodon” a lot more alluring than the other one.

This is the first of a series, and number two “Moon over Soho” is already pre-ordered to my Kindle. I’ve also bought Rivers of London for the Kindle, but since I can’t buy it from amazon.co.uk but have to use amazon.com I got it with the US title. That’s a bit annoying.

Other people like it too:

Monday morsel – Rivers of London

Downbelow Station, last week’s morsel, got ignored this week as my friend Thomas pushed Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch into my hands. (For some odd reason it’s called “Midnight Riot” in the US.) I’m almost finished and I’m having a really good time with it.

And now, the morsel:

“Is that true?” asked Lesley?
“Which bit?” I asked.
“Spells, food, obligations, wizards – the bailiff,” said Lesley. “For God’s sake, Peter, that’s false imprisonment at the very least.”
“Some of it’s true,” I said. “I don’t know how much, I think becoming a wizard is about discovering what’s real and what isn’t.”
“Is her mum really the goddess of the Thames?”
“She thinks she is, and I’ve met her and I’m beginning to think she might be,” I said. “She’s got real power, so I’m going to treat her daughter as the real thing until I find out different.”

Monday morsel – Her fearful symmetry

I sometimes pretend that this is sort of a book blog, and today I try again with another Monday morsel. This morsel comes from Her fearful symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.

Like, but unlike. Elspeth saw in Julia and Valentina the strangeness, the oneness that had always so discomfited people in herself and Edie. She thought of things that Edie had written to her about the twins. Do you mind Julia bossing you all the time, Valentina? Have either of you got any friends? Lovers? Arent’t you a bit old to be dressing alike? Elspeth wished she could welcome the twins somehow, sing a little song, do an elaborate pantomime demonstrating how glad she was that they’d arrived to alleviate the boredom of the afterlife. Instead she gave each twin a delicate kiss on the forehead and settled cat-like on the pillows to watch over their sleep.” (p.88)

Hear and see Audrey Niffenegger talking about the book:

In time and space – about books

The Hungry Ghosts by Anne Berry
Time: around 1960 to 2006
Place: Hong Kong, England and Paris
Very good book about Hong Kong, ghosts and a very dysfunctional family. I really liked it.

Other people liked it too: Ghosts of colonies past – The Globe and Mail, Reader’s Corner, The Daily Mail Online, The Independent Weekly, The Bookbag

Stolen av Lucy Christopher
Time: a few months in 200? with glimpses back in time, up to about 25 years.
Place: Bangkok airport, Great Sandy Desert in Australia and London
Gemma writes a letter to her captor Ty who kidnapped her from Bangkok Airport and brought her to The Great Sandy Desert. Good and exciting YA-book about kidnapping, obsession and confusing emotions.

This is what other people think : Wondrous Reads, So many books, so little time, Pure Imagination, Today’s Adventure, The Book Whisperer

Blackout by Connie Willis
Time: 1940-45 and 2060
Place: London, Dunkirk, Oxford and a few other places in England.

It has been 8 years since Connie Willis last published a novel, but when she finally does it’s with volume 1 of a two part story. (It was a relief to be told that volume 2, All Clear, will be published in October, so I guess I can manage a 6 month wait for the book when I could manage the whole year between every Lord of the Rings movie).

Haven’t we all sometimes wished that we could go back in time to see how some event really unfolded? I know that I have. The historians in Connie Willis’ time travel books can do precisely that. But sometimes things don’t turn out exactly as planned, the historians don’t end up precisely where and when they are supposed to, they struggle to get to the drop when they are to report home, and when they manage to get to the drop it’s either not possible to access or just doesn’t open to let them through. When you are a young historian in the middle om wartime England, this is cause to worry. Why haven’t the recovery team come to get me? What’s happening at home in 2060-Oxford? Did I do something that changed the history of the world?

I adore Connie Willis’ books. It was wonderful to meet again Colin and professor Dunworthy from Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, and the historians in Blackout are as likeable as Kivrin in Doomsday Book and Ned & Verity in To Say Nothing of the Dog. I think I’ll have to reread those two books while I wait for the October release of  All Clear.

I’m not the only one writing about Blackout:

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