Review – Rivers of London

Cover of Rivers of London by Ben AaronovitchRivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch
Review from July 1st, 2011

I first came across Rivers of London on the Kindle store, and downloaded the sample. I was intrigued by the first chapter, and put it on my wishlist. A friend or two read it, and finally one lent me his copy. He thought I’d tear through it in one go.

Not quite true, as it happens. Oh, all in all, I think it took about two hours to read, but sometimes a few days would go by without me reading more. It reminded me a lot of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books — which is not really a compliment, coming from me. They were similar in tone, and something about the narrators was similar. Thankfully, I didn’t pick up on the same type of waves of misogyny — sorry, I mean chivalry — but I wasn’t entirely happy. Do guys really think with their dicks to this extent? Leslie was, most of the time, a great character — and then I was left feeling rather like she’d been there as a plot device all along. To fill in that role, of Pretty Polly, who is a silent onlooker and untroubled when wooed by a murderer…

Not a great start for women in this series, particularly with the nubile Beverley eventually used as a hostage, and then the whole thing ending with vagina dentata…!

To some extent, it depends what happens to Leslie now. Is she just the instrument for trowelling on Peter’s manpain? Or the exposition tool to help Peter figure everything out? Or will she have a plot of her own?

I will be reading Moon Over Soho, though I did think Rivers of London also had a few problems with pacing, but I won’t have the same tolerance with it. I do like the idea — actual, officially sanctioned members of the constabulary dealing with supernatural events — and I do love a good crime story when it falls together reasonably well.

Rating: 3/5

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13 thoughts on “Review – Rivers of London

  1. Haven’t read the Dresden Files book, but I do agree with you about the lazy misogyny, all the worse for being casual, and the feeling that Leslie was ultimately just a plot device.

    Unlike you, I’m unlikely to read the sequels as I felt the ending, despite the novel’s initial promise, suggested that Aaronovitch was blatantly setting up a series moneyspinner for himself.

  2. Everyone tried to tell me how much better these books were than the Dresden Files and, I honestly can’t see it. There’s nothing new or exciting or less misogynist about these.

  3. I haven’t read all of the books out so far, but Leslie gets a plot of her own. You know, as much a plot as side characters can have when the book is told from first person from the main character’s point of view. She gets to be her own character, at least, in my opinion.

      • That’s weird, it appeared in my WordPress Reader for some reason. No wait, you posted it today… oh, it’s tagged Flashback Friday and now I see the date and all. Silly me.

        I’ve read all but the most recent book, too. How did you feel about Leslie after the first book (with no spoilers)? I really liked her once she turned into a more regular part of the gang.

    • To be honest, I gave up fairly early with Butcher’s work, sooo I don’t know if he got worse. Also, the same person recommended both Butcher and Aaronovitch to me. But yeah, the more recent books I’ve really liked.

  4. I loved this book, but for what it’s worth, I thought the second one was just as good and possibly even better. Glad you’re going to keep giving this series a chance. It’s now become one of my favorite urban fantasy series!

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