The Rivers of London/Peter Grant series continued on a strong note with books 4 and 5 in the series. I read these back to back, and decided to combine my reviews.
Recap from Books 1-3: Peter Grant is a magician’s apprentice as well as a policeman in modern London. His special unit investigates and solves crimes involving paranormal phenomena. Most of the magician population was wiped out during WWII, but a newly trained dark magician is plotting something big while lots of other paranormal happenings are also going on. There are gods/goddesses tied with each of the rivers of London and all tributaries who play a role in each of the books.
I think Broken Homes (Book 4) is either tied for or comes in a close second as the best in the series. It really advanced the world building, and moved forward the Faceless Man’s (overarching Big Bad) story as well as something big that has been building for the Rivers. There is a huge twist at the end that made me gasp, and was SO fitting to the story. The 6th book is coming out at the end of January 2017, and I rather wish this was the last book I had read in the series instead of book 5 (more on that below).
There are several major crimes in Broken Homes, and I had trouble keeping them all straight in my head, but they do all intertwine. There is a body dump of a woman missing a face, a break in at a museum where books on magic were stolen and pawned, demon traps are being created and the factory gets destroyed, etc. A LOT going on. The center of the story is a housing complex designed by a magician. All of the crimes they are investigating seem to somehow come back to that building, so Peter and his fellow magical apprentice Leslie move in to the complex to try and find out what is going on. One thing Aaronovitch does really well throughout this series is give the reader a great sense of place. His architectural descriptions are always great, and they reach their pinnacle in this book describing the housing complex. Peter gets to battle the Faceless Man for the second time in the series, and it’s really just a pleasure to read.
Foxglove Summer (Book 5) was not bad in any sense of the word. It was an enjoyable read and expanded the world Peter lives in. It was just missing something (and I know what that is: Leslie, Nightingale (Peter’s boss), and the city of London). Two preteen girls go missing in a rural town and Peter gets sent out to investigate if there is anything magical about the disappearance. Spoiler: there is. So, Peter spends the book in the tiny town and has left all the other great characters behind in London. His ‘girlfriend'(?) Beverly (one of the Rivers) does show up and help him, but theirs is not a relationship I particularly enjoy, so that didn’t help me like this book more. Peter was born and raised in London, and since place is very much a character in all these books, the descriptions of the different London neighborhoods have been great. This was a fish out of water tale, and it was amusing to see Peter learn his way around the countryside, but, like Peter, I still missed the city.
I got the feeling that Aaronovitch wasn’t ready to follow up the amazing ending to Broken Homes just yet, so he slowed the pace down with Foxglove Summer. I don’t know what his book contract looks like or how long he intends the series to be, but I could see it racing towards the end if he kept up the pace of Book 4. Book 5 does give Peter an opportunity to talk to an old magician who knew his mentor Nightingale during WWII, and Peter learns some really important information that will clearly have a central role through the rest of the series. But other than that info drop I did not see how Book 5 advanced the series overall.
I really adore the writing style of these books. It’s very witty and has that dry, British humor that I have always loved. And, in the midst of all the paranormal shenanigans, there are just little gems that speak to me. My two favorites this time around (one from each book):
“You know how some people work at being stupid?” she asked. “If you give them a clear, common sense choice they give it a lot of thought and then choose stupid.” (Take what you will from this regarding current events).
“Sometimes you have to make a choice and sometimes you have to act on blind faith and trust that your mates won’t let you down.” (I needed to hear this right now).
I am so anxious for the next book to come out and it will hopefully pick up the pace back in London with all my favorite characters in one place again.