One of the things I love about reading is that I get to travel to so many new places! I was able to have a brief 1 week visit to London a few years ago, so it was great to include a book set in the city in this year’s blog schedule. This is another one you’ll see recommended often so let’s get to the basics so we can chat!
Midnight Riot/ Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Book 1 of 9 (Rivers of London)
Published: Feb 11, 2011
Amazon: 7,795 ratings; avg 4.3
Goodreads: 116,053 ratings; avg 3.87
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.
Despite the high averages, we’ll always find people who didn’t enjoy a book…and this time I’m with them. Let’s start with the points that came up repeatedly in negative reviews and then I’ll share my thoughts. As usual, please note that the vast majority of people LOVE this book and series so it could still be a great fit for you.
Negative Review Points:
-plot/ magical world building
**TRIGGER WARNING – Within the first 50 pages, it crossed a line for me and I would have appreciated a trigger warning of some kind. If death in books has some concerns for you, please send me a message. I won’t spoil things here, but I’d hate for anyone else to go into this blind.**
Next, this is billed as procedural police/ urban fantasy so I immediately thought of Grimm which was probably unfair. I also knew going in that romance wasn’t on the table. However, as I mentioned above, it crossed a line for me early on and it just didn’t recover.
The reviews were split here – some clearly didn’t expect fantasy and were annoyed. Others thought it was too realistic and the magic fell flat. I was actually interested in the folklore and world building. That was one of the redeeming aspects for me.
Back to the plot and magic though…
I’m going to tie this in with another critique – Boring.
Part of this was the writing style and part was the emphasis on the setting. Both slowed down the plot and made it a bit disjointed. If you’ve read other Book Chats, you probably won’t be surprised to learn I skimmed a bit which never helps with flow.
I do love to travel and was excited to learn more about London. To add another Grimm comparison, I love that Portland was almost a character for them. However, this really fell flat for me. It was just a bit too much on the setting. I felt both the plot and human characters were secondary to the location.
The setting is important clearly and helps with the world building, but I just lost interest. It was hard to build up tension when there were long paragraphs of descriptions with no dialogue or action. When I struggle with plot or worldbuilding, the characters can still save the day.
Back to Grimm again, I do adore the police and fairy tale aspects, but the characters and their relationships really made the show for me. Unfortunately here, another strike for me was the main character. First, I did think Peter accepted it too easily, but it is only book 1. I would hope he’d struggle a bit more later with some aspects later on. However, it was also bit too sexist and immature for me. This was an issue for me with another male author/ male lead Book Chat, so this could easily be a personal preference on style. This means you’ll have to make up your mind too, but I think reviews should help fellow readers so I’m going to share a few quotes so you can get the feel.
First, two of my favorite quotes:
“Young men are always tempted to use brute force,” Nightingale had said. “It’s like learning to shoot a rifle; because it’s inherently dangerous, you teach safety, accuracy and speed – in that order.”
We did an hour of practice, at the end of which I was capable of flinging a fireball down the range at the dizzying speed of a bumblebee who’d met his pollen quota and was taking a moment to enjoy the view.
And now, one of my least favorites:
I was fighting the urge to fling myself to my knees before her and put my face between her breasts and go blubby, blubby, blubby.
Overall, I’d give this 2.5 stars – it’s simply not my cup of tea.
I’ve confessed before to being a moody reader and that’s not always fair to this Book Chat reads. I had heard wonderful things about this series, but it wasn’t what I was in the mood for and I just couldn’t connect to it. I did push through, but I won’t be reading more in this series at this time. You never know what the future may hold so I won’t write it off completely. It definitely isn’t one I’m giddy to keep reading though.
If you’ve read Rivers of London or have specific questions, feel free to comment so we can continue to the chat. The next part is focused on writing. If that’s not of interest to you, skip down to the cute cat picture and you’ll find the book links for this one as well as next month’s read.
Okay, fellow writers, let’s start by talking about how important it is to read in your genre. If I had used this book series or author in my marketing, it probably wouldn’t have gone well for me! He has some wonderful fans who probably wouldn’t enjoy my style or world building. It would also have proven awkward if a reader has asked for similar reads in a social media post and I had pushed my book.
I DIDN’T FAIL. I JUST FOUND 2,000 WAYS NOT TO MAKE A LIGHTBULB; I ONLY NEEDED TO FIND ONE WAY TO MAKE IT WORK. –Thomas Edison
It’s important to not only know the authors who are similar to us, but also the ones who aren’t.
I’d have to say this one is dead-on and interesting. If I’d never heard of it, the mix of police and fantasy would have reminded me of Grimm and I would’ve checked it out. However, the cover doesn’t really work for me. I do find it interesting but it doesn’t tell me anything. I doubt I’m the only reader not connecting this to fantasy based on the cover.
We’ve talked about this previously, but we really do only have a few seconds to gain a reader’s interest. And it’s not just any reader we want to grab, it’s the reader who appreciates our genre. Ultimately, the cover and blurb are our choices as indie writers. I think it helps to always switch back over to a reader POV and think about how a stranger will see our efforts.
Setting/ World building
As you can see from above, this split readers and my own thoughts. I wanted to like it – I wanted to be fascinated and swept away. However, it just wasn’t a match for me.
No book (not even ours) is for every reader.
I think it’s smart to realize we can’t please every reader. There is something to be said for writing to market and meeting reader expectations, but there’s also something to be said for staying true to our story. I’m going to assume the author did just that – he wrote a book he wanted to read. There are many readers who agree with him.
Have you written a story you want to read?
In some ways, I have. In other ways, I haven’t. I love adding descriptions in stories and do like the setting to be a character. However, I often skip those parts when reading. I’m still working to find my style in that regard. As a tip, I find that writing short stories has helped me tremendously. With fewer words, we have to make some hard choices.
The same thought process can be applied to our blurbs which many of us struggle to write. Instead of trying to appeal to every reader, I think it makes sense to know what readers we want (ie those who will like us) and focus on appealing to them. I like the advice to reference tropes in the blurb – character and plot. I also like the advice to write the blurb first and let that help guide the story.
What books have taught you what NOT to do as a writer?
Always feel free to share your writing journey here! If you’d like to review a book for this blog series, please send me a message and we’ll talk.
Yet another Book Chat is now closing – you can check out the full 2022 schedule HERE! Below you’ll find the US Amazon link to this month’s read and our October book as well. Until next time, happy reading and writing to all.
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Moon Tortured by McKenzie Hunter
3 thoughts on “2022 Book Chat 9 – Rivers of London”
I have heard of this book, but never read it myself. At first I thought it might be for me, but the more you revealed the less I became interested.
If there are too many boring parts I skip through them to get to the ‘meat’ of a story. Unless a book is very lyrical it need pace to keep me interested.
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It was boring to me but you might enjoy it! 🙂 I find Leigh Bardugo’s writing style lyrical so I skip very little even though she is descriptive. I am an impatient reader though so skipping is rather normal for me! If you do ever read it, I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
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