So last winter, a writer visited the Bar; he apparently sat the in the shadows, sipping his drink quietly while listening to our conversations. Later, he emailed me, offering to send me copies of his books Rivers of London and Moon over Soho, the first two in a series, hot off the press. The author's name? Ben Aaronovitch.
Right...I didn't realize who he was either.
I was flattered, of course; free books are free books and I'm honored whenever strangers like the drinks at the Bar. While awaiting the (autographed) copies, I naturally
I finished Rivers of London last week, and nerds at the Bar are totally going to love this book. It's been reviewed by The Times, SFX, and Total Sci Fi, and as one author asked, "What would happen of Harry Potter grew up and joined the Fuzz?"
Aaronovitch deftly fuses the magical with police procedural, mythology, history and science fiction, and get this, bar patrons: his protagonist, Peter Grant, is a P...O...C.
Born of a British failed musician and a mother from Sierra Leone, Peter, a cop, becomes a sorcerer's apprentice while trying to solve a particularly gruesome and perturbing mystery.
The first page had me both hooked and laughing my ass off (it's for adults only, by the way...in case that's not already obvious). When I looked up, a day had gone by.
This book has it all - vampires, trolls, wizards, bizarre mystical agreements, and highly amusing river gods, though whether or not they are actually gods is up for non-debate. I say "non-debate" because as Peter's mentor bluntly states, whether or not they're actually gods is irrelevant; they have power and they use it. Apparently, that's all a sorcerer needs to know.
I don't know if Aaronovitch himself is married to a West African woman and is raising a mixed child, but I wouldn't be surprised if he is. His handling of Peter's backstory is exceptional. His knowledge of West African cuisine, fashion, speech, culture and his excellent ability to physically describe African women had my jaw on the floor. For example, in the story, the goddess of the Thames River is a stunning Nigerian woman of immense power. Aaronovitch constantly refers to her as "Mama Thames." Mama Thames refers to her male counterpart as "Baba Thames", and the two don't get along.
Mama Thames's daughter, Beverly Brook, is this kick-ass (seemingly) young Black woman with a peculiar cell phone designed to work under water. To quote her, "Don't ask." (FYI...you will LOVE her.)
At 390 pages long, Rivers of London is a highly detailed, cleverly complex book starring POC in some amazing, non-stereotypical roles. And that, I believe, is why the great Aaronovitch reached out to little old me. It also why I can't wait to start Moon over Soho this week (the lil sis is also hooked. She hopes this will become a TV series).
Hit up Aaronovitch's blog when you can and show the man some love. He's certainly earned it.