Ben Aaronovitch: more urban fantasy

re-readsI get recommendations for good books from my friends but also from comparative strangers. One author I find delight in reading is Ben Aaronovitch.  Recommended to me over the phone by the receptionist at the GDBA center. Ben Aaronovitch  wasn’t new to me this year , I had read his first book  at the end of 2012 but I am certainly hooked and reading my way through his books.

Urban fantasy, in particular London urban. London is the city of my childhood and knowing the areas he writes about makes the experience even more enjoyable.The books concern a young policeman, and the police in these books are familiar British bobbies, I understand them so well.

But of course this is a fantasy so this is not exactly the London I know! Here there is magic and ghosts and the most entertaining bunch of Gods one could wish for. Who would have thought the River Thames was so territorial. This is a London with a thriving underground and I don’t just refer to the railway system, this an underground world thriving and teeming with life and nastiness.

Ben Aaronovitch combines dark blackness with humour in a very unsettling yet very British manner; we are never far from dark humour on these islands. Maybe I’m pleased I hadn’t read this when I was a child and spent so many hours on that railway system!

I have read three of his books so far – as I say two this year. Rivers of London was the first. And there we met Peter Grant, not the best detective around but okayish, after he takes a witness statement from a dead man! he suddenly finds himself embroiled a new life altogether. That of an apprentice wizard, working under the auspices of the police force. He has to learn magic, and fast, as he discovers London is just teeming with the stuff!

This year I have enjoyed Moon over Soho where we enter the world of music , more particularly the music of jazz, of beauty and beat. When the dead are murdered by supernatural forces they leave a magical trace, it is Peter’s job to use his skills and know how to trace the culprit.

Whispers Underground, the third, takes us down to the endless tunnels and sewers which lie under London, down to the ancient foundations of the city. The habitation of ghosts bent on revenge.

Ben Aaronovitch, so clever in his melding of magic, myth, horror and humour in a prose which is erudite, he has clever plots and very likable characters, even on occasion the baddies. He conveys the sights, sounds and smells of London and even those who do not not know their way around the city would, I think, gain a very clear picture of the place.


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