Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Review of Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch

I borrowed an audio version of Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch from Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

I quite enjoyed this once I figured out that it and Midnight Riot are the same book. Why do publishers change titles other than to confuse readers? Anyhow, once I figured the title out, such that I realized it was the first of the series and picked it up, I enjoyed it. I loved Peter’s sarcastic voice, the cast and the introduction to all of the magic creatures of London. Not to mention the descriptions of the city and it’s rivers.

As an American I can imagine that Peter’s casual references to race could be uncomfortable. But I have to say, after living in England for several years, the ability to acknowledge it without the instant assumption that it is meant to be racist was refreshing. I never sensed Aaronovitch was being racist simply because he acknowledge someone to be of Nigerian decent or Arabian or Traveler. Peter is supposed to be of mixed race, his mother from Sierra Leon and his father white English. It’s not that it was always delicate or tactfully handled, it’s just that it was matter of fact and benign; the character’s insider perspective. Seeing a main character of color was nice in and of itself.

I laughed a lot in the course of this book and I was especially impressed with Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s narration of the audio version I eventually got my hands on. The obvious swallowing and the fact that some sections ended abruptly was annoying, but beyond that I thought it was an amazing rendition. In fact, despite having the next book in paperback already, I think I’ll get the audio instead.

Review of Shifting Dreams (Cambio Springs #1), by Elizabeth Hunter

I downloaded a copy of Shifting Dreams (by Elizabet Hunter) from Amazon, when it was free. It was still free at the time of posting.

Description from Gooreads:
Somedays, Jena Crowe just can’t get a break. Work at her diner never ends, her two boys are bundles of energy, and she’s pretty sure her oldest is about to shift into something furry or feathery. Added to that, changes seem to be coming to the tiny town of Cambio Springs—big changes that not everyone in the isolated town of shapeshifters is thrilled about.

Caleb Gilbert was looking for change, and the quiet desert town seemed just the ticket for a more peaceful life. He never counted on violence finding him, nor could he have predicted just how crazy his new life would become.

When murder rocks their small community, Caleb and Jena will have to work together. And when the new Chief of Police isn’t put off by any of her usual defenses, Jena may be faced with the most frightening change of all: lowering the defenses around her carefully guarded heart.

Surprisingly good

I found that I appreciated an Urban Fantasy comprised of characters with families, children. It was a change from the almost always early twenties UF heroine we’re so often handed. I liked Jena and Caleb, Caleb especially, and both of her children were adorable. And the mythos of Cambio Springs was interesting.

I did get lost in all the names. There were a lot of side characters and they were hard to keep track of. I also thought Jena’s freakout about sex (or moving forward with a relationship, signaled by sex) was cliched for a 30+ year old, widowed, mother or two. I wanted her to be more in control of that aspect of herself, but I also feel that such a reaction has become sadly expected in this sort of book and I hate that Hunter fell in line so easily.

All in all, however, I’d be happy to read more of this series.

Review of Pound of Flesh (Half Demon Warlock #1), by J. A. Cipriano & Conner Kressley

I received an Audible copy of Pound of Flesh, by J. A. Cipriano and Conner Kressley, from the one of the authors.

Description from Goodreads:
My name is Roy Morgan, and I’m not your average Atlanta cop. For one, most of them don’t have to kill people to stay alive. I do. It’s a half-demon thing. Yep, that’s right, half-demon. It’s awesome, especially since I’m half-warlock too, and those two sides don’t much get along.

Still, that and a buck will get you a candy bar. So it’s all good.

Or at least it was.

See, I had this dumb idea to stop a robbery in progress and have myself a snack. Turns out these weren’t your run of the mill robbers. No, these were demonic slavers, there to capture the district attorney and sell her off to the highest bidding demon in Hell.

Now if I want to stop them, I’m going to have to fight my way through a city full of hellfire-flinging, gun-toting, spell-weaving demons.

My name is Roy Morgan, and I think I’ll have seconds.

This is fairly standard male urban fantasy. There’s a first person, self-deprecating hero who likes to make snarky comments and act like an anti-hero, a damsel in distress that he falls in love with, a female BFF who is characterless beyond being vapid and slutty (and condemned for it), a cute sidekick and prevailing against all odds. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t call it anything special. It is funny and the writing flows quite well. I also liked the narration of the audible version, done by James Foster. I’d read more in the series, even if I’m not racing out to get the next one.