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.
This is Men in Black, minus the aliens, but heavy on the paranormal. It's an enjoyable book, and for $4.95 special what could go wrong. Well, a lot could go wrong, but not enough to make me sorry this time. The story introduces you to a host of interesting characters, most of all Peter and Nightingale. The two have a master/apprentice relationship and their differences makes for good humor.
I did question how quickly the scientist cop, Peter, accepts the paranormal so quickly, but once he treats it more like science it fits a little better. I also felt lost at times in the story since there are two, maybe even three or four, story lines happening or developing at the same time. Lastly, the narration works great sometimes with the characters and other times the narrator places sighs, almost yawns, in places that doesn't call for it. Was he getting tired of reading the script?
I've placed book 2 in my wish list but need to wait a few days before deciding to place in cart.
1 Star -- Terrible 2 Stars -- Bad 3 Stars -- Mediocre 4 Stars -- Great to the right person. 5 Stars -- Superb, you must pick this up.
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...