Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Ben Aaronovich
Artwork: Lee Sullivan
Colours: Luis Guerrero
Release Date: 24th October 2018
Peter Grant, proud member of the London Constabulary and days away from completing his probation, stumbles upon a key witness to a murder. Oddly, the witness turns out to be a ghost, and that’s when things get really strange. Recruited into a little-known branch of the Met, the Special Assessment Unit, by one DCI Thomas Nightingale, Peter discovers that magic, ghoulies, ghosties and things that go bump in the night are real… all of them, except aliens… so far…
I have been a massive fan of the Rivers of London books since I picked up the first one almost 8 years ago. I’ve read every book so far, I’ve got them all on audiobook (If you haven’t listened to them Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is one of the best audiobook narrators I’ve heard, and I’d heartily recommend them), and now I’ve got the graphic novels. In the world of Peter Grant, Thomas Nightingale and the Folly, there is something magical (pun intended) that just keeps me coming back for more and makes the a regular re-read or listen.
Aaronovitch’s style for me is something of a cross between Douglas Adams’ Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy and Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch stories. There are repeated references in the book to Harry Potter, much to the chagrin of DCI Nightingale, and given the subject matter this could easily have turned into just being a parody of JK Rowling’s stories. “CSI Hogwarts” if you will. Aaronovitch however has kept a fantastic balance between the horrific and the humorous, and spun a story and a world that despite its supernatural subject matter has a very grounded and relatable feel to it. Each of the characters has a well fleshed-out background and development, and with every new story I have become more invested in each of them.
As the title suggests this is a collection of the first three graphic novels in a nicely presented slip case edition which, if you’re just starting to collect them is definitely the way forward. What you get in the Graphic Novels are not reworks of the existing stories but rather a series of new short stories that intertwine with the timeline of the books and fill in some gaps and references that personally have been bugging the living daylights out of me.
Have you spent a fruitless afternoon paging through the books to find out what (to paraphrase DCI Seawoll) “all the weird bollocks” with the haunted BMW’s was about? Look no further! This is a storyline that features in the first volume of the graphic novels and only here. I was very dubious when I picked these up, I have found over the years that graphic novelisation of a favourite author/ book series seldom ends well but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see that Ben Aaronovitch has brought the same effort and skill to these as he has to the rest of the books. Lee Sullivan and Luis Guerrero had probably the hardest job to convince me. We all do it, you read a novel and you know how that character looks, (I had the same trepidation with the audiobooks but Kbona Holdbrook-Smith knocked it out of the park) but I’ve got to say Sullivan and Guerrero have done brilliantly.
The character that was worrying me most of all was Nightingale. I had a very definite picture in my head, he was one of the first characters that developed a face for me and the Nightingale in these books is almost exactly what I had imagined. Characters and my vastly overinflated opinions on whether they meet my expectations aside, the artwork throughout is fantastic and there’s some wonderfully atmospheric, and in some places horrific scenes that are brought to life beautifully by the art and colouring.
Having said all of that, as an introduction to The Rivers of London, this is not the place to start. If you haven’t read the books you’re going to struggle to understand a lot of what’s going on. If, however, like me, you’re just a little bit obsessed with the novels then this is a great addition to the Peter Grant universe and answers some of those pesky, niggling questions that are alluded to in the books.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek