Rating: 3 stars
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.
Whenever I first started reading this book, I was really excited. The premise of the book sounded right up my ally, like a story I could sink my teeth into. However, while I overall enjoyed this book, it wasn’t the read I was hoping for.
What I enjoyed about Rivers of London was how the supernatural and fantastical were introduced into the story. I found the concept of vestiga interesting. The idea that you could pick up on imprints intrigued me. Especially with the way it was used by the protagonist to help solve crimes. I also liked the idea of the rivers in London were each a character within the story and the conflict between the two main rivers who were trying to gain even more control. I thought that was an interesting concept to read about.
I also enjoyed reading about the hierarchy regarding the police force in this book. Since I don’t live in London, I have no idea if it accurately represents the different branches of the police (if there are any), but I thought it was interesting to read Peter talk about these different police units. I also loved how Peter was able to use his skills as a constable and combined them with magic to stop the protagonist from hurting more people.
It was also interesting seeing how magic impacted people to where it could affect your brain if the person is using more magic than they can control. And I liked the effect magic had on technology in this world to where it could result in killing your phone battery or damaging your electronic devices so you couldn’t use them anymore. The idea of magic having that much of an affect and being that powerful really fascinated me.
While I enjoyed reading Rivers of London because a lot of the topics discussed truly fascinated me, I also had some issues with the story too. For starters, while I found a majority of the characters in this book interesting, Peter Grant wasn’t the protagonist I wanted for this story. When I originally started reading, I was fine with his character. I even was rooting for him to find out what was going on. But in comparison to the other characters in the story, such as his female counterpart Lesley and the Inspector he became partnered with Nightingale, he wasn’t as interesting a character. If I’m to be honest, I would’ve preferred Lesley as the main character because she was someone I could more relate to. I felt like Peter was trying to use logic to explain the existence of magic too much instead of just enjoying being a part of the police force that handled cases involving magic.
Another criticism I have with this book is the plot. It originally started off really fascinating with Peter talking to a witness that he later discovered was a ghost. However, as the book continued, I felt like the plot just started rushing forward. It went from a story where magic was being explained to one ridiculous event with magic after another. The plot essentially started out interesting to where I wanted to find out what happened next to then become absurd. I wouldn’t have minded so much if there was context with these events or if the main antagonist in the story faced his retribution. But while there is context explaining why these sequences of events happened in the order they did, the antagonist just vanishes at the end of the story. While I understand why (without saying anything that could spoil the book for those who’d be interested in reading it), a lot of the end felt very messy to me.
In the end, the plot just didn’t work for me. Yes, I still enjoyed what I was reading because the way magic was explained truly fascinated me and I loved solving crimes involving magic. But I feel like if the plot of the story near the end wasn’t so gummed up, I’d have enjoyed it more. I know there are more books in this series so I’m willing to give them a chance in the hopes that they’ll be an improvement over this one.