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Editorial Reviews

An enthralling and at times hilarious crime thriller audiobook, Book 1 of the unabridged Rivers of London: PC Peter Grant written by Ben Aaronovitch is brilliantly narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. Listeners are taken into the depths of London’s hidden world of vampires, spirits, gods and goddesses of the mighty Thames. Join the impossibly funny PC Peter Grant as he leaves his policing life behind to become an apprentice to the last wizard of England and listen intently as they embark on a battle against London’s sinister vampire underworld. Available from Audible now.

Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    166
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    31
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    11
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    5

Performance

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    7
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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Touch of the DWJs

Entertaining, British, DWJish

In tone, no, but many of the concepts in this story reminded me of Diana Wynne Jones. The details are just a touch too bloody for me to give this a five, but that probably says more about me than about the book. I did enjoy the story a lot, and have bought the sequel. I give full marks to the narrator who goes with apparent ease between Peter's accent (which sounds like the Jasmine Allen Estaters from "The Bill" to me), Dr Walid's Scottish and Nightingale's uppercrust Brit. He also makes a lovely job of the other accents Nigerian and whatever Oxley is... Irish? As far as I can tell,* he's pitch perfect. *I'm Australian, so my knowledge of accents isn't 100%.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Sandrine
  • Differdange, Luxembourg
  • 03-05-13

History, magic, a drop of gore and lots of fun

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Surely everyone waits for the twist in the story and hopes to get that fuzzy warm feeling of satisfaction. I was a slight bit disappointed with the unfolding of that twist but that's only my opinion.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

A little bit of magic, a bit of history, a few drops of gore, a pinch of over-the-top and a few scratches of British humour, all in all I had fun listening to this book.

Do you think Rivers of London needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

I've added the follow-up book to my wish-list already.

Any additional comments?

I congratulate Mr Holdbrook-Smith on his excellent performance, it was a pleasure listening to him. I especially loved Mama Thames.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A narrator with a thousand believable accents.

What did you like best about this story?

I liked how the world of magic and inner London policing were very realistically entwined, and how Harry Potter films still exist.


What about Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s performance did you like?

The narrator is stunning, equally at home with English and Scottish accents from every social milieu and is one of very few male narrators I have come across who could do a believable female chav!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I listened to this book and its two sequels on a road trip through headphones and my family were amused by my frequent guffaws and snorts of delight.

Any additional comments?

This is a great series with gritty realism in its descriptions of inner city policing, while successfully introducing a believable fantasy worls, apparently on our very doorsteps! Highly recommended.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • lynn
  • ADELAIDE, Australia
  • 08-15-12

Simply Brilliant

I came across this author and his work by accident,but now I have downloaded all three of the books of which this is the first. Brilliant combination of wit, history and fantasy concerning a subculture of magic underneath that of modern London. the characters from Nightingale through Peter Grant and the ever ominous Molly are wonderfully drawn. Equally crucially is the narrator Kobna Holdbrook-Smith whose narration gives depth and texture to the work. It is an excellent work of imagination suspend critical analysis and nitpicking and I am sure you will enjoy the work(s).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Original, witty fantasy with deep roots in London

This book is a delight from start to finish (and it didn't take long to finish - I consumed the whole thing in two compulsion-driven days).

The book is deeply rooted in contemporary, multicultural, London, with a strong sense of place and of history that is polished and intensified through the lens of the tongue-in-cheek political correctness of the Metropolitan Police, and garlanded with figures from London myth who are at once as modern and as ancient as the city itself.

Wit is sprinkled like hotsauce throughout this books with references to contemporary fiction (Black Adder, Twilight, Harry Potter, Coronation Street), colourful similies, clever word play and a well-developed sense of the absurdity of daily life.

The mixed race background of the main character is used to draw out the multi-cultural nature of London and its long history of taking people from around the world and making them into Londoners within one generation.

The plot is driven by the main character's insatiable curiosity to know how things work (I'm easily distracted) and his need to do whatever is necessary to preserve the Queen's Peace (we're the ones who run towards the screams) and powered by magic and evil.

The book lays a glamour on a place I know well and turns it into somewhere I would like to know better.

It is, at heart, an optimistic, civilized, book, filled with chaos and compromise and unspoken agreements and recognition of subtle affiliations. Our hero does the right thing by being himself, taking care of his friends, showing pride but being respectful and muddling through until the job is done. I found the whole thing wonderfully British, or at least, how I would like being British to be.

I've already downloaded the next two in the series.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Suzanna
  • O'Connor, Australia
  • 02-18-13

Absolutely Fantastic Book - Highly Recommended

I loved this book! This is a clever and fast-paced mix of London Police and magic. Great characters and story. The reader does an amazing job of all the different voices and accents. I could hardly bear to pause the book and go into work! Well worth buying.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Aileen
  • Armidale, Australia
  • 10-23-12

Wonderful urban fantasy

I don't really know if this qualifies as 'urban fantasy' as such. It is a fantasy in an urban setting, but the tone is light and engaging, not dark and mysterious. I prefer light and engaging, and this delivers. I love the main character protagonist and most of the minor or secondary characters too. I found this funny, smart, imaginative and really interesting.
the voice narration is good too. Really, a winner and strongly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Just a great story, really clever.

Where does Rivers of London rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is my favourite so far.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Peter Grant of course but the description of Father Thames was just fantastic.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Absolutely wonderful.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

YES

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Best narrator on Audible by far.

Loved the story. It was fast paced, interesting and original. The best feature, however, was the narrator - he makes it worth listening to even if you're not into sci-fi/fantasy magic stuff.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant book, brilliant narrator

Oh my goodness. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's voice is incredible...warm and engaging - an aural equivalent of hot chocolate with a good book and a purring cat. Simply wonderful.
The book is witty, intelligent, intriguing and fascinating. I could not stop listening, I just could not wait to see what happened next.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Penelope A. Wythes
  • 04-27-11

Rivers of London

Fantastic listen - the best new author I have come across in a long time. I just wish you would hurry up and put his next book on audio - I couldn't wait so bought and read the hardback version - and that he will keep writing more of them. Fascinating for his detailed account of modern and historical London, blended with lighthearted spookiness and magic, and a convincing idea of how the Met would deal with magic, not only from the villains, but with the wizard in their ranks.

56 of 59 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • valb
  • 08-05-11

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.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Matthew
  • 06-03-11

THATS THE WAY TO DO IT !!

One of those rare examples of something that lives up to the hype , Im not going to spoil it but this book is a fantastic read from start to finish . I can imagine a T.V series in the offing eventually ( ironically the lead role the Narrator would be perfect for ) ......

Plenty of humour and sarcasm , but serious when it needs to be.

The `Villain` was also perfectly thought out .

I urge anyone to take a plunge and buy this ......

36 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-16-11

Surprisingly addictive

I listened to the first few sentences of this book and nearly turned it off, but so glad I did not! A fantasy/crime/historical novel, I was never bored and amazed at the level of research the author has put into this book. At no time did I have to cringe and reach for the off switch because something was just too ridiculous to believe. THe reader was also very good- after the first 5 minutes of getting used to his reading style. In the end, it was obvious he was the right choice for the job, narrating it easily and using excellent accents and voices in just the right places. All in all, a very enjoyable listen!

44 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stewart
  • 04-17-11

Fantasy thriller with attitude !

A fantasy thriller with bags of attitude, it?s very funny, imaginative and absorbing ? almost addictive. Totally refreshing in its detail, perspective and writing style. The story line of a believable supernatural underworld in London is based on a mixture of magic, police procedurals and human relationships. This looks like a start to a very promising series, I really am looking forward to the next book.

38 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Shaun
  • 05-24-11

The Best 'Read' I've Heard For A Long Time

Having listened to the first few minutes of this book I was a bit put off by Kobna's reading style but stayed with it and boy, how glad I am that I did! His narration is absolutley perfect and he carries you along with this tale as if it's his own. The story is quirky, imaginative, very funny and visual. I loved the mix of police protocol with whimsical wizardry, brilliant.

42 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alexis
  • 07-18-12

Loved it

from the very beginning right to the end I was hooked. Its funny and engaging and I really care about the characters. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is perfect. Looking forward to getting all three.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kim
  • 06-02-11

Fantastic listen

Have to review this, never felt the need before, but this has to be one of the most enjoyable books I have listened to in eons! Was a little put off at first, always wary of the 'bandwagon jumpers' with latest fantasy novels, can be a bit boring, but this was just fantastic. Gritty, great thriller plot and superbly narrated. If you are fan of any of the genres, be it fantasy, sci-fi, mystery or thriller, I don't think you will be dissapointed. Please hurry up and put next book on audible!

27 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Christian
  • 03-28-13

Not my cup of tea (I'm not even sure that was tea)

I realize I'm in the minority here, but this book isn’t working for me. At first I thought it was the reader as, like others, I was at first put off by his reading style, but later I learned to accept it or at least ignore it. Then I came to a scene set inside a cinema and the sheer amount of inane details in the straight up banal description finally made me delete the book (incidentally, the cinema scene ends with “that’s three hours of my life I’ll never get back”). It’s not that the reader pauses frequently to catch his breath, sigh or have a drink of water off-mic, it’s the text. The text is awful. The British comedian Stewart Lee once mocked Dan Brown as a man who writes sentences such as “The famous man looked at the red cup”, had the author of Rivers of London written the same sentence, it would probably have been "applying my trained coppers eye behind my newly purchased wayfarer sunglasses, which I purchased online, from sunglasshut for 80 hard-earned British Pound Sterling, using a station-anchored personal computer terminal in the lobby of the Cromwell police station, I fixed my gaze upon the man, five-foot-seven in height and with a weight above the average Londoner, this man, known for his work of historical fiction of a fantastic or supernatural bent, and observed how he, wearing a brown leather coat one or two sizes too small for a man of his heft, suspiciously eyed the red goblet in an unusual manner only recognised by a copper."

My review may seem harsh in the light of the other reviews, proving that many people do enjoy the book, it’s just that I didn’t. The book seems completely unedited. Thank God for audible’s return policy.

136 of 165 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Beccameriel
  • 06-26-13

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)

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeremy
  • 04-29-15

A kind of English Harry Dresden

This was a great book!

The story is set in modern day London and centres around a young PC who begins training as a wizard. It's in a similar vein to the Harry Dresden novels. There are lots of descriptions of London locations, so especially if you know the city, it's loads of fun.

The narrator does a really good job and gives depth and personality to the characters.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Suzanna
  • 05-31-16

Wow! A fantastic book

This is the first of the Peter Grant books. British policemen with magic. A really well written book that plausibly brings magic into the modern world. Beautifully read by Kobna Holbrook-Smith who makes the English accents sound great (at least to Australian ears). Really worth reading, and I'd recommend the rest of the series once you have finished this one.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kai1
  • 01-14-17

What a voice! (Book wasn't too bad either.)

I was looking for a new series to get stuck into and stumbled upon this.. And I will fully admit to choosing this purely based on the narrators voice of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.

It's the kind of voice that felt like I should be listening to the story in a perpetual bubble bath with a glass of red wine and a chocolate.. TREAT yo self!!

The story was good to, very light easy listen .. Not high brow or Man Booker prize winner material though. Like adult youth fiction.

I think I read a review that described it as if "Harry potter joined the fuzz" but let's face it , love him as so many do Harry potter was never a cool dude. This is more like Harry Potter being a cool urban London dude that joined the coppers. Worth a go for the voice alone!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Richard
  • 08-22-15

great story, great performance!

just a wonderful story, performed incredibly well! great characters, wonderful literary references, great comedy, heartily recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ayeayeandi
  • 08-18-15

Really enjoyable

Unique approach to a London police novel. Casual and entertaining. Will be reading (listening) to the others in the series

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Joanne
  • 02-11-15

Got me hooked

Initially not what I expected and at times I got a little lost, also guessed way ahead of it being revealed in the story - SPOILER ALERT- the punch connection.

But overall really quite enjoyed it and reviews pertaining to the next books as even better, spurred me on to get the next one, which I am enjoying even more.

The narrator is great and reads with the right tones, levels of sarcasm and exasperation!

Highly recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Janette Gorman
  • 03-07-18

Not Enough Stars

Brilliant. Just brilliant.
I loved every second of this book. Listened to it in two days which has to be a record for me.
Great characters and storyline.
Superb narration by Kobra Holdbook-Smith

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bernadette Aitken
  • 01-24-18

Something new

I have only just discovered this author/series and l am hooked.
The story is set in current day London and presence of magic and the spiritual world is an accepted and yet hidden reality.
PC Grant discovers that he can communicate with ghosts and becomes the apprentice of a senior police officer and wizard, Inspector Nightingale. He is in charge of all magical/ supernatural crimes. Other members of the force know this, but are not sure whether to believe it or not.
Peter Grant finds himself in a confusing crime spree which requires both his police skills and burgeoning magical skills to solve the case.
The reader/listener is pulled into a new world with its own vocabulary and rules. Making sense of the connections between characters and how they behave towards each other is a little challenging, but satisfying.
This will not be the last book in this series I listen to or read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Margaret
  • 08-06-15

Quirky and smart!

The narration was brilliant and beautiful, such an unusual story but quite captivating, different from the usual predictable crime novels. Loved it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jan
  • 07-31-15

Refreshingly new twist

I was very pleasantly surprised by the story. Some new ideas with a nice humour. Looking forward to the next novel

1 of 1 people found this review helpful