TBR Pile Review: The Rivers of London Novellas, by Ben Aaronovitch

It’s been a while since I read any of the Rivers of London books, not since Foxglove Summer, but I have The Hanging Tree and Lies Sleeping on my TBR pile so I’m getting back into the ‘world’ by reading the novellas. I’m reading hem in publication order rather than series order.

36802162
Paperback, 118 pages
Published March 2018 by Orion (first published June 30th 2017)
Rivers of London #5.5

Blurb

There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there’s a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.

Enter PC Peter Grant junior member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Assessment unit AKA The Folly AKA the only police officers whose official duties include ghost hunting. Together with Jaget Kumar, his counterpart at the British Transport Police, he must brave the terrifying the crush of London’s rush hour to find the source of the ghosts.

Joined by Peter’s wannabe wizard cousin, a preschool river god and Toby the ghost hunting dog their investigation takes a darker tone as they realise that a real person’s life might just be on the line.

And time is running out to save them.

With this new novella, bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch has crafted yet another wickedly funny and surprisingly affecting chapter in his beloved Rivers of London series. 

My Review
The Furthest Station is about a missing person and strangely behaving ghosts. It was a bit odd, and took a while to get going. Abigail plays a larger role in this novella than she has in the novels I’ve read so far. She’s fun, and clearly has something going on with the foxes, which I suppose I’ll find out about in ‘What Abigail did that summer’.
I enjoyed the story but I was a little underwhelmed.

42389859. sy475
Hardcover, First Edition, 180 pages
Published June 13th 2019 by Orion Publishing Group (first published May 31st 2019)
ISBN:1473224314 (ISBN13: 9781473224315)
Rivers of London #7.5

Blurb

Trier is famous for wine, Romans and for being Germany’s oldest city. So when a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth.

Fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.

Enter Investigator Tobias Winter, whose aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger and paperwork. With the help of frighteningly enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, he’s quick to link the first victim to a group of ordinary middle aged men – and to realise they may have accidentally reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century. But the rot is still spreading, literally and with the suspect list extending to people born before Frederick the Great solving the case may mean unearthing the city’s secret magical history.

. . . so long as that history doesn’t kill them first.

My Review

Tobias Winter is sent to Trier by his Director, die Hexen auf dem Ostern, to deal with an unusual death. What he finds is a couple of river goddesses, a drinking club, a fungus and a 250 year old entitled brat.

His liaison with the local police is called Vanessa Sommer. Because someone is having a laugh. But Vani is actually really enthusiastic about the weird stuff, and helpful with infant river goddesses, so they tolerate the jokes and get the job done.

This novella has a bit more meat to it than The Furthest Station, maybe because Aaronovitch was testing the waters with his first novella in this world? It is written with his signature humour and attention to local detail. The plot is fun and kept my attention. Need to get the novels read soon so I can catch up on what has been happening, there were hints in this novella of events I haven’t read about yet.

55855546. sy475
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published March 18th 2021 by Subterranean Press
Rivers of London #5.3

Blurb

Ghost hunter, fox whisperer, troublemaker.

It is the summer of 2013 and Abigail Kamara has been left to her own devices. This might, by those who know her, be considered a mistake. While her cousin, police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, is off in the sticks chasing unicorns Abigail is chasing her own mystery. Teenagers around Hampstead Heath have been going missing but before the police can get fully engaged the teens return home – unharmed but vague about where they’ve been.

Aided only by her new friend Simon, her knowledge that magic is real and a posse of talking foxes that think they’re spies, Abigail must venture into the wilds of Hampstead to discover who is luring the teenagers and more importantly – why?

My Review

My favourite novella so far. I’ve spent a pleasant three hours this afternoon reading my signed first edition hardback from Goldsboro Books. It’s close to novel size at over a hundred pages, and the space has allowed the author to really develop the story with an established character. Abigail, the foxes and Simon, a new friend, discover teenagers are going missing and decide to find out what is happening. The foxes help track the kids down to a house that really doesn’t want to let them go.

I liked learning more about Abigail and her home life, as a child carer and trouble causer. She’s open, honest and hardworking. She cares. I think I could make an argument for being neurodivergent. Simon too, in a different way. He definitely has a learning difficulty, and it seems as though his mother is the over-protective sort until you realise she works for the intelligence agencies of the Thames. He’s not book smart but he knows things, is inquisitive and adventurous, asks deep questions, and a very happy person.

It’s a shame Abi suggests sending him to a special school at the end, and that his mother says he’s thriving there. I’m sure there are ‘special schools’ where his strengths would be encouraged while his general education wasn’t neglected, but not at the ones paid for by the state (looking at you, NAS schools).

The house is complicated and it’s origins are fascinating, and I’m sure Abigail will be spending hours or possibly days in the Folly’s library looking up sorcerers and their ghosts. This novella adds dimensions to the Rivers of London world.


Now I’ve tackled the novellas IO think I’m ready to dive back into the novels. I was putting off ‘The Hanging Tree‘ because I don’t like Lady Ty very much. I’m allergic to supercilious posh people who like to manipulate anyone they think is inferior to them.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s