Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Review by Joshua S Hill
It has been brought to my attention that when it comes to reviewing books, I may be a little lenient when it comes to scoring. This comes down to the fact that I sort of have a different scoring system for certain authors; which is to say, if a book gets anything above 9.5, then it’s being ranked in another league.
That being said, I don’t mind that my reviews aren’t designed to tear apart and criticise. I like looking at the good in books, especially if a book simply entertains me.
Because when it all comes down to it, that’s what I want more than anything else; to lose myself in a book and be entertained.
That is something that Ben Aaronovitch has managed to do both times I’ve read one of his books.
Moon Over Soho is the second in his Rivers of London series. It continues the story of Peter Grant, Detective Constable in the British Police, and the first trainee wizard in fifty years. Only a small amount of time has passed between books, and the excitement and entertainment hasn’t stopped in the slightest.
In discussing Aaronovitch with my girlfriend – a literary type of a much higher calibre than me and with more literary understanding in her pinky than I have in my whole body – we discussed the question of whether he comes close to Kate Griffin when it comes to writing an urban magic story in London. I have to agree that, yes, Griffin has a lot over Aaronovitch, but Griffin is one of those authors who I rank in their own category, along with writers like Steven Erikson, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and Brandon Sanderson.
So setting aside Griffin and her contemporaries, in my mind at least, we have in Aaronovitch an author who has a beautiful sense of the city that his characters call home. There is not as much contextualisation as there is in Griffin, and a little bit more ‘telling’ as he doesn’t have the grip on creating a character out of a setting that she does. But I am nevertheless transported to a place I have never been when I read Aaronovitch’s work.
The casual acceptance of magic in this world irked my girlfriend, and continued to please me. I love the fact that there is almost no tiresome passages where one character has to explain the rules of magic, once again, to the latest eye witness or superior who stumbles in their way. This isn’t Harry Potter where magic is kept side-lined and taped away. Rather, magic is revealed to those that need to know, and everyone else pretty much ignores it.
Which makes sense, when you consider the often used belief that the human mind fills in a lot of the details of things we do not understand. Magic definitely comes under that category, and those that do not need to know why that man died or that woman didn’t, simply go on their day ignoring what they don’t understand or create a better lie to live with.
Sadly, this book is let down with utterly atrocious editing. I’m a writer, and when I’m writing all manner of ungodly grammatical mistakes work their way into my work that I would never ignore if I was taking a moment to look back at what I wrote; that’s what we have editors for, because without them, we’d have to spend a lot more time in our editorial mind and a lot less time in the more productive creative mind.
Still, when a book is published to the world, you expect the grammatical mistakes to be non-existent, or at least found only by those special few who understand English linguistics.
All in all though, this book once again blew my mind, and kept me reading well into the late night/early morning. You needn’t pick up Rivers of London, Aaronovitch’s first in this series, but you’d regret it by the time you got to the end of Moon Over Soho and found out how good it was.
Karen from England
Has to be the highest turnover of a newly-discovered author since I was introduced to the mighty Terry Pratchett... went through this book in no time at all, and like the main reviewer I was pleased that although this, like the first in the series, has a fantastical background, people behave in believeable ways, most notably in the need-to know category - the only way people get to the end of their day in a reasonably sane state. (It happens, you know it happens, but if it doesn't directly concern you then forget about it!!) Reading book 3 with the same sense of enjoyment, and looking forward to a book 4 with any luck...hint hint.
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