Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Rivers of London

I've been reading Rivers Of London today, which from the blurb sounds like an awful, twee, awfully twee Magical Story About London with faux-Harry Potters and other such garbage, but that turned out to be a rather fun romp through Covent Garden, in the company of the evil personification of Mr Punch from Punch & Judy.

My wife read it first, and because she's Canadian she's never been subjected to Punch & Judy, one of those awful things children are meant to enjoy. I'm not sure I ever have either, but being British (possibly) means being imprinted with some sort of race memory where you know about a man in a silly hat with a stick, a string of sausages and a terror of policemen. Thus there were lots of things I picked up as references that my wife didn't even realise were references, or that were utterly obscure. Who would have thought Canadians didn't know what "doing a ton down the Great West Road" meant?

Anyway, it's possibly just an interesting artefact of modern time that we have these mashups of horror, fantasy and [insert genre here]. There's Charles Stross's spy+Cthulhu series, there's Stephanie Wossname's Mormons &Vampires guff, and of course the mighty Harry Potter, bestriding the twin worlds of boarding school stories and the Lord Of The Rings like ... like ... like something or other. And then I suppose even Zone One counts as a mashup, a mashup of zombies and well-written fiction.

Ahem. Rivers Of London could have been trash, it could have felt like something where the writer had to tell you about every bit of research he did, but it's not either of those. It's really nicely written (whether you're a Londoner or a Canadian), drives on at a cracking pace, and is only sometimes predictable (at those points when the reader has more grounding in magical fiction than the narrator has). I'm going to have to stay up until 1am to finish it - is there a higher compliment?


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