Review: Broken Homes / Author: Ben Aaronovitch / Publisher: Gollancz / Release Date: Out Now
With Broken Homes, Ben Aaronovitch gives us the fourth Rivers of London book featuring PC Peter Grant, a policeman specialising in magic and the supernatural. At some point in any large series (we predict a total of 7 books) the author is generally very familiar with their creation and sometimes the level of innovation drops before picking up for the end of the series (we're looking at you, Harry Potter). Would this be the title that was merely good rather than great?
At an early stage of the book we are treated to a fair on the South Bank of the Thames. This gives Ben Aaronovitch a chance to drop in many of the characters and themes from the first three books including the River gods, his family, jazz and the many (and varied) characters that inhabit this London so close to our own. At this stage the story is like a favourite jacket – we are comfortable with it, like wearing it but have become used the where the pockets are and what shirt to wear with it.
The story then emerges from an apparently haphazard landscape of deaths and murders as we are introduced to the world of early 20th century architecture and a tower block near the Elephant and Castle. As Peter and Lesley investigate they also continue to learn about magic at the Folly under the supervision of Nightingale and throughout the book Peter’s magical skills continue to improve, albeit slowly.
Of course the real enemy is the Faceless Man and we are treated to a confrontation between him and Peter and a plot twist that will surprise most readers and lifts this book up a notch in my estimation and makes me keen for the next instalment.
Being slightly picky, at times the text seemed to need a bit more editing (and the author has asked people to provide edits via twitter) and almost turns into a text book with the volume of material it imparts with regards architectural best practice. The bottom line is that if you’ve read the first three books you have probably already bought this; if the urban fantasy world of Peter Grant is new to you then go out, get the first book (Rivers of London) and dive in.