Rivers of London is a totally convincing modern sorcerer’s apprenticeship. PC Grant is transferred to The Folly, a very niche department of the Metropolitan police, after an unexpected encounter with a ghost. Under The Nightingale he becomes the first wizard for 70 years, dealing with the magical underground of London, as well as crime on the surface. What follows are a series of cases set in different locations; Covent Garden, The Royal Opera House, Shepherd’s Bush Market and Oxford Circus station to name a few.
Aaronovitch not only references the geography of the city, but also its mythology. In Rivers of London, not only does the Folly need to keep the peace between the warring gods of the Thames; they also need to track down and stop an evil spirit intent on creating puppets out of innocent people by cracking open their faces until they look like Mr Punch.
Aaronovitch not only references the geography of the city, but also its mythology.
As for the magic in this series, it works something like this: It exists all around us as a sort of energy field. You need a certain amount of natural ability to perform magic, hours of practice and training to perfect it, and if you do too much you get really, really tired. You also need to stay well away from your mobile phone when casting a spell.
The series is well paced, easy to read and full of intrigue. Think of a modern Dr Strange and Mr Norrell. Admittedly, the police officers that are let in on the existence of magic seem rather calm about it. Emotionally authentic this series is not. What it does do is pay homage to major landmarks in London, and other areas of Britain in the later books. They meld the reality of policing with the magical in an enjoyable read.
The series is well paced, easy to read and full of intrigue.
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