Broken Homes (The Rivers series book 4) by Ben Aaronvitch (book review).

He really is a wiz of a wiz if ever a wiz there was. Well he’s still learning but Detective Constable Peter Grant is quite an endearing chap and his wizardly training as the first wizard apprentice in fifty years continues in this fourth instalment in the Rivers series, ‘Broken Homes’.


Peter is still homed with Nightingale at The Folly, a sort of safe house for magic. A man of indeterminate age, Nightingale is the last wizard in the country. With magic supposedly on its way out, the country has been caught napping and Nightingale has only Peter and one new slightly reluctant one, WPC Lesley May, to help save the day. Peter and Lesley’s own ‘will they, won’t they’ dialogue is seriously compromised already. Lesley has her own problems suffering from terrible facial injuries from a previous magic attack, she continues to wear a mask in public but she’s no victim and learning magic is her own climb back.

Set in the magical hidden world of London, there is a surreal quality to this novel that affects the reader. I find myself trying to picture areas I’ve never seen but hope to discover. The plot is good but it’s the characters are intriguing, even the walk-on’s, like Molly the mysterious live-in help at The Folly who must surely at some point have her own story.

This time Peter is going south of the river. Not his normal stamping ground and also home to some of those river goddesses he may have slightly upset before. That’s another complication of the plot, along with serial killers with no memory, curious car crashes and train-platform diving town planners. Going south? Yes, I think it is.

Continuing on the trail of the Faceless Man, Peter Grant is on a steep learning curve and its all grimoires and anarchic architecture to figure out as the Faceless Man always seems to be one step ahead of him. Then there are Solstice celebrations on the South Bank and Goblin markets to move in. It’s definitely bursting off the page and demanding some TV time. My only complaint is that I wanted it to be longer. The cliff-hanger ending is teeth-grindingly frustrating and means another long wait for resolution, maybe in the next book.

Sue Davies

February 2014

(pub: Gollancz. 357 page small hardback. Price: £14.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-575-13246-7)

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