My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit - we do paperwork so real coppers don't have to - and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly valuable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. Now I'm a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden... and there's something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair. The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it's falling to me to bring order out of chaos - or die trying.
©2011 Ben Aaronovitch (P)2011 Orion Publishing Group Limited
Although not what I would normally expect from a fantasy novel in general, this book is a brilliant and deliciously different fantasy-folly. It introduces us to a young London copper who discovers he has magical powers. Shortly after this, the reader realises that he is by no means alone. The London police force is evidently riddled with wizards, and it’s just as well. They have a lot to contend with. London has become a boiling turmoil of incredible violence and bloodshed (what’s new?). From visiting the spirits of the Thames, we follow the quick eradication of a few errant vampires, discover a few lost rivers barely heard of since the medieval, and a whole lot more. The plot weaves, interweaves and generally confuses us with continuous unexpected twists and turns. This is intensely clever and, as far as my past reading is concerned, unique.
Above all, the humour is completely adorable. I confess that there were moments when the whimsy wais so unrelenting that I needed a rest to put my brain back into focus – but I am not complaining. I soon missed my fix and returned to the magical city.
The plot itself is actually nonsense but that doesn’t matter either. Though goodness knows if anyone not accustomed to life, habits, slang and the basic language of modern Londoners would actually understand half of it.
And so to Londoners and anyone else with a spirit of literary adventure, I strongly recommend this as a few days of complete enjoyment, endless smiles and frequent laughs out loud. Even the constant and outstanding brutality remains good humoured. Now – that’s clever!
I bought the audio edition and having listened to a great stream of other audio books, this is most definitely the first one where I have fallen in love with the narrator! Brilliantly read with just the right touches, accents and inferences. A perfect narration and beautifully apt for the book itself.
Quite a joy in all aspects.
Yes, see my review. Pure unchallenging entertainment
Listen to this now! Meet Peter Grant and modern London have a hidden side
the plot is clear enough, but the relationships between the main players makes this feel cohesive
Kobna Holbrook-Smith is a genius. I have sought out other books where he is the narrator. Great range and humour
I purposely limited my reading, didn't want to get to the end
Love the whole series
"Proper London magic. My perfect book!"
My love for this series knows no bounds. Sorry for the hypebole but this is basically my perfect series of books. It pushes all my buttons: London, the Thames, Mr Punch, Newton. There is literally nothing here that I don't love.
The mythic resonance of London is central to the stories and the system of magic is a great invention. I do enjoy the fact that it's geographically accurate too (sorry, but this is important to me - when Peter is chasing something, I know I can follow his footsteps precisely).
I spend a lot of time mentally casting this - far too much time......
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is the perfect reader. He gets all the accents spot on and has a naturally charming tone which makes Peter Grant inherently loveable (to me anyway)
"Brilliant Londoners book"
I initially thought twice about downloading this, after all I don't really like fantasy type books. But some strong reviews on here made me think to give it a try. Plus my best mate works for the Met Police and having heard many of his stories I was keen to see how this fictionalised account compares.
Really enjoyed it and devoured it in a very short time...really glad the next book is now out which will be my next listen. The narrator is superb, to me he sounds like a young Idris Elba which is no bad thing. Yes its got spirits and vampires and trolls in it, but its not really a fantasy book to me, or at least what I would stereotype as being the fodder of your typical world of warcraft wielding weirdo...
This is a gritty, urban, London crime story, with large dollops of humour chucked in. Loved that, being focussed around the Thames, I could relate to the places and streets and have even drunk in the pubs mentioned.
Download it now, sit comfortably and write off the next ten hours...
"brilliant original story great narrator"
This is the first book that I felt compelled to share my thoughts on and I would like to thank all previous reviewers for encouraging me to listen to this book.
I will endeavour to post reviews in future as I now realise how much I use them once I have listened to the sample.
I agree with other reviewers who enjoyed this book. The story was cleverly written and humerous and the combination of the story and the brilliant narration makes it come to life, particularly with the narrators interpretation of the characters. The storyline has been well described by others so I have nothing to add to that but just wanted to say that if the storyline appeals to you give this a listen.
I note that there is another book by the same author and narrator so will not feel too down now that I have come to the end.
Please continue with this author if he writes more, in what I hope will be a series,and please ensure that Kobna Holdbrook-Smith narrates them, he is a great narrator and hopefully his skills will be used in other authors books, perhaps modern thrillers.
"Enjoyable and fresh"
I really enjoyed this relaxed but entertaining take on the "modern magic" story, sufficiently self aware to tread carefully away from Harry Potter territory. Its a good enough story to stand out on its own but I was pleased to find more to come.
The plotlines are well worked and the characters really well defined by Kobna Holdbrook Smiths narration.
"Great book, perfect narrator"
Loved this book, Funny, clever, intriguing - all you want from a mash up of a grown up Harry Potter and The Bill. I wouldn't normally have chosen this but due to the excellent reviews I thought I'd give it a try and i'm glad I did.
Also, as mentioned (by practically everyone!) the narrator is perfect - the dead pan tone could not be better suited to the author. Lets hope these two keep together for this series.
I will never look at Covent Garden in the same light again!! Audible please release more of this series. Deserves to be a classic . Very well read. Am now hooked on this author.
"A brilliant, funny, enagaging tale"
I loved both the mystery and the sarcasm of this book, and its well paced for an audiobook. The reader too was excellent, both expressive and a pleasant listen.
Please get him to read the authors second book fast, I need to hear it! :)
Would listen to Kobna Holdbrook-Smith all day long and he is a perfect match for this book.
I love Ben Aaronovitch's writing voice - it is really different and I would love to hear more like it BUT as normal detective novels rather than the supernatural like this one.
I often thought about giving up on the book but the narration and writing style kept me going because both are fantastic.
The supernatural theme jarred for me though.
I got this after reading some good reviews and a friend recommending it. Have to say I'm grateful as I loved it, hated having to remove my earphones when the kids came home. The story is set in modern Britain with the added bonus of magic, the plot moves along wonderfully and the central characters aren't perfect but 'real' which helps a lot. I'll definitely be getting more of the series.
"Loving the way London was portrayed"
I loved this quirky novel. I lived in London for years and I loved the way the supernaturals WERE London. The mystery was interesting and kept me gripped but by far the characters were the most special thing about the novel. Considering this is a sci-fi novel and they felt like they had realism and depth. It had a feeling that it was similar to Dr. Who but instead of time travel and aliens there is humans with special powers. I look forward reading more in the series.
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