Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

Sometimes, you really can judge a book by its cover.  I picked up Ben Aaronovitch’s Whispers Under Ground because of the cover art – a map of London with the tube stations superimposed.  I’m a big fan of fiction with urban tunnels or subway linkage such as Gaiman’s Neverwhere or Lisa Goldstein’s Dark Cities Underground¸ so this one was a natural choice.

Turns out it was the third in a series, but that did not matter at all.  Within 10 pages, I was completely engrossed in the adventures of Constable (and apprentice mage) Peter Grant.  An American student has been killed under unusual circumstances, and Grant is part of the London police’s Specialist Assessment Unit which handles cases of unusual nature.  He’s still very much an apprentice when it comes to magic, and that is part of this series’ charm – Peter Grant is no superman (or supercop, for that matter).

What he is, though, is an extremely likeable protagonist with a strong voice that should appeal to anyone fond of the understated humor of British television.  That, plus the UK setting and Grant’s cultural heritage (he's of West African extraction) set this book apart from the scads of urban fantasy that graces our library shelves.  The story moves quickly, the magic is logical, the rest of the characters are engaging  - in short, a worthy addition to the urban fantasy genre.

If you’re the kind of person who hates to start in the middle of a series, check out  Midnight Riot, the first Peter Grant book.  Whispers Under Ground would be a good choice for fans of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files or the October Daye books by Seanan McGuire.  It’s also a good possible crossover for fans of UK police procedurals who may want to try fantasy

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Great review--this author is on my to-read list!