Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Moon Over Soho" by Ben Aaronovitch

(cover image from Amazon.com)

Moon Over Soho (2011) by Ben Aaronovitch is the sequel to Midnight Riot, an urban fantasy about a young London cop/apprentice wizard.

I really liked that one, which had appealing characters in a light-weight, often humorous, read, but with serious consequences. And this one follows that pattern, beginning and ending with the most serious, even tragic, consequence of the first book.

Like the first, this book easily held my attention, and I thought it was a lot of fun. But IMHO, it wasn't up to the standards of Midnight Riot.

For some reason, I had trouble keeping the characters straight in Moon Over Soho. It wasn't that I'd set the book down for awhile, either. In mid-book, I just realized that I didn't know exactly who was who. I didn't backtrack, to try to figure it out, because it wasn't that important. I got the gist of it OK. But I still have to consider that a problem.

Also, this book is mostly just Peter Grant, while the first had him working with all sorts of policemen and other weird characters. This wasn't completely different, but there was less of that here. Also - and this, too, is just personal preference, I know - I really don't like super-villains, especially recurring super-villains, which one villain in this book threatens to be.

I did enjoy Moon Over Soho, and I plan to continue with the series. And there are parts of this book I really did like which I won't mention for fear of giving away spoilers (spoilers of the first book, mostly, but still nothing I want to do).

You definitely need to read these in order of publication, so don't start with this one, anyway. If you enjoyed the first book, you'll enjoy the sequel. It's not quite that good, but then, you wouldn't expect it to be, would you? After all, you already know the setting and the basic situation.

But one thing Aaronovitch seems to be doing very well is showing us a changing world. This isn't just a magical situation, but a fluid magical situation. In previous years, it looked like magic was dying. Now, it seems to be growing again.

Peter Grant has a scientific mindset (unusual in a fantasy, wouldn't you say?). He studies magic in a way his predecessors don't seem to have considered. As he learns more about what's going on - learning more about magic, as well as learning more about the changes going on in his world - we learn more about it. And that's intriguing.

It's especially intriguing because we're talking about series fiction here. This really has the potential of keeping the series fresh. At any rate, I'm anxious to see where the story goes next.

Note: More book reviews, including others by Ben Aaronovitch, are here.

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