absolutely intoxicating narration
Momma Thames, sucha cool concept.
Nightingale is mysterious. Not sure if he is trust-worthy or what he is hiding. Also loved the banter between Peter and his constable partner.
No, but very enjoyable listen.
This was the closest to the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher that I have come so far. It's a police procedural, with the protagonist being a British constable who discovers that magic is real and that some of the crimes he is investigating are really caused by things that go bump in the night. The book is set in London, by someone that really knows London. It has the feel of London, with the racial diversity, British slang, young Brit way of life (clubs, pubs, kebabs, curries, and flats with laundry on the floor), and a generous dollop of well-researched London history. I very much enjoyed the idea of the Thames and its "daughter" waterways being manifested by human-seeming spirits with distinct personalities and agendas. There is a lot of (dry or earthy) humor and humanity in the writing, which flows very naturally and is easy to get swept up in. It felt rather Dr. Who-esque. Like Dresden, there is an apprentice system for learning magic, and the protagonist is taken under the wing of an Inspector in a special "supernatural" wing of the constabulary.
What was somewhat lackluster: The pacing was odd. The story ran in fits and starts, with lags here and there. The teacher of our constable is injured and out of commission and thus unable to advise our hero for a big chunk of the book. The ending was rather far-fetched, involving a near-death experiment and time travel that seemed to come out of nowhere. After the ending, there is a bizarre episode after the resolution of the actual main plotline, which felt like the preview chapter of the next book. The main character is a likeable fellow mostly, but is quite juvenile sexually - commenting on cleavage and despite budding relationships with two female characters, is seemingly bumblingly teenage in his thoughts about them. The villain of the piece ends up to be re-enacting the old Punch and Judy tale, which is, quite frankly, ridiculous. It lessened the level of tension inherent in the solving of the crime for me. While I appreciated that the magic system was something that anyone could learn and the magical abilities were kept to a relatively conservative level in power and affect, our hero learned way too fast and too easily for the short period of time covered in the book.
3.5 stars, particularly for the easy, almost effortless style of the writing and the wonderful feel of the London setting. The narration was beautifully done, smooth, with all the right pacing, humor, and sarcasm, and excellent accents.
To start off, I really think I was misled with MIDNIGHT RIOT’s summery – including various fan reviews – and this could totally be my fault. I was expecting a hard-boiled BBC drama with DCI John Luther consulting with a ghost instead of a psychopathic killer. Instead I ended up reading Hellboy lite - a magical mystery adventure where all the magic you heard about as a child exists if you know where to look. Yawn.
Sorry. Nodding off there. I had the same response to the neutered John Constantine show on NBC. I am not a fan of high fantasy (unless your surname is Tolkien or Gaiman) and of hidden magic tales in the modern day world, save for the aforementioned Hellboy, HELLBLAZER, and the 1990s run of DC Comics’ BOOKS OF MAGIC. A slice of the paranormal mixed into a crime story, however, seemed like a fun mash-up. And honestly, MIDNIGHT RIOT is fun, but it’s also terribly silly when the story begins to include vampires and river deities as well as the easily-accepted existence of London’s Metropolitan Police division of the X-Files.
As the story went on, I did find myself enjoying the characters within quite a bit; cheers to Ben Aaronovitch for the crafting of fun, unique characters and of the relational situations they were placed in. Needless to say, I was much more interested in the mystery of Thomas Nightingale and Peter Grant’s flirtatious relationships with Beverly Brook and Lesley May than I was with magic class.
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith has a great reading voice and he can easily play out various voices. At times, though, he sounded tired, bored, and even congested. Or are audio production problems to blame?
MIDNIGHT RIOT does fill a nice niche of British fiction. Obviously this for fans of Doctor Who (of which I am) and Harry Potter (of which I am not) who might like to explore that hard edge of Neil Cross’ Luther (again, bigtime fan). Aaronovitch has a clean, easy writing style that makes the subject likable, approachable and, why not, golly good fun.
Ben Aaronovitch is a smart, funny writer and that's the kind of book he's written in Midnight Riot (also known as Rivers of London, see what I did there?) but the book is fully and entirely brought to live by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's narration.
The book follows a long tradition of normal people (for a given value) stumbling headlong into a world of magic, in this case, Peter Grant, a biracial London cop. It's not an adult Harry Potter, though. For all Grant's laugh out loud wit and the genuine funniness of the book, there's a darkness and a horror that threads skillfully through the pages and Holdbrook-Smith's acting chops make it feel as if those horrors are no more than a breath away. Like a good movie, I lost track of the fact that I was listening to someone read from a script and fell into the story itself, again aided by Holdbrook-Smith's facility with voices, so I forgot that this was a one man show.
Because Aaronovitch is a native Londoner and given Holdbrook-Smith's skill with different UK accents, there's a real sense of place and persona to the story; London is another member of the cast...sometimes literally.
My only "complaint" about the story--and it's a mild one at that--is that the pacing of the story felt uneven. So many things happened in the course of the story that it didn't feel like it followed an even and tangible arc of dramatic tension and the middle felt a bit flabby. However, Aaronovitch and Holdbrook-Smith work well together to make it a trip that feels, all the while, worth taking. Highly recommended and I'm so excited about reading the rest--also narrated by Holdbrook-Smith.
I picked this book up on sale recently because I'm a sucker for contemporary stories with a magical flare. One of the endearing things I found in the book was the lack of a overarching magic superpower that snuffs out everyone for doing magic in public. This book literally creates a combination of the Private Eye magic man and the magic cop and meshes the two to a point where they just feel right and not forced.
Give this book a chance if your even remotely interested in the contemporary paranormal genre!
Say something about yourself!
Solid 3.5 stars but could not rate it four. Some humor and an interesting take on urban fantasy in modern London. Ok but not Dresden. 1st book in series, maybe next will get better.
I enjoyed the heck out of this book. It is a great start to what looks like it will be a well-written urban fantasy series. The only reason I gave it 4 rather than 5 stars is the the pacing occasionally dragged just the slightest. However, even during these times, the charm of the dry British humor was enough to hold my attention.
I can't wait to hit the next installment.
I love this series! It is urban fantasy, but not like all the rest. It's very urban, and there is fantasy, but it's also a large dose of gritty London cop and colorful London culture. The story is very, very British-- the accents and the slang and the settings make me long for a London vacation.
The protagonist is a likable mixed-race London cop who finds himself apprenticed to a magician police detective. I love his scientific approach to his newly discovered magic, as well as his take on racial interactions and the social make-up of London. The narrator is phenomenal... coming up with a full range of British, Scottish, Welsh, Indian, and African voices.
I've gone straight on to the 2nd and 3rd book, and looking forward to the rest!
Really the makings of a good start to something more. I enjoyed the dialog, and the descriptions of London, particularly those done as a stiff police report.
Are you tired of emo protagonists? Plots being moved along by stupidity? How about the same ol' humdrum?
I know I am, and that is why this book was such a wonderful surprise and I even almost passed on it.
The short and sweet of it is that you have this extremely relatable main character who just takes everything in stride, just like how I always feel a main character should. None of that "oh this is impossible" or "wooooow everything is so mystical." No, instead you have PC Grant questioning the thermodynamics of magic, his coworkers just shrugging it off and rightfully passing all the buck to Grant (really, who would actually want to deal with a psychotic serial killing ghost?), and him nodding knowingly to a river goddess while staring at her tush.
Seriously this book is clever, funny, and above all unique. The author knows how to subvert tropes and bring up all the random thoughts that pass through a reader's head and answer them, or at least ask them himself.
I recommend this book to anyone that likes urban fantasy, anyone who wants a spin on a mystery book, or anyone that has stayed away from urban fantasy because of the tired plot devices.
Also all the british slang...