In today’s audiobook review I’m featuring a book that I listened to well over a year ago! It’s scary that time has flown so quickly. I distinctly remember listening to this during the time when I was doing a lot of redecorating. I spent a week painting and this was one of the audiobooks that got me through.
After listening to Rivers of London and Moon over Soho, I had high hopes for this audiobook. The previous two were brilliant and I’m pleased to say that Whispers Under Ground lived up to expectations!
Whispers Under Ground – Ben Aaronovitch
In Tufnell Park, North London, a pair of railway tracks diver under a school, taking train to and from Kings Cross. Wet, filthy, dangerous. Lovely place. And one Sunday before Christmas a sweet (sort of) kid called Abigail took me and my long suffering colleague Lesley May down there to look for a ghost.
We found one.
And that was that, I thought, because come Monday I get to do some proper policing. Person Unknown has been stabbed to death on the tracks at Baker Street tube. Magic may have been involved. And sure enough, in the blood; vestigia, the tell-tale trail magic leaves.
Person Unknown turns out to be the son of a US senator and before you can say ‘International incident’. FBI agent Kimberley Reynolds and her firmly held religious beliefs are on my case.
And down in the dark, in the tunnels of London’s Underground, the buried rivers, the Victorian sewers, I’m hearing whispers of ancient arts and tortured, vengeful spirits…
Ben Aaronovitch has a fantastic way of melding magic and the real world together seamlessly. You wouldn’t think the two would go together so well, however, the magic in his Rivers of London series is so ingrained into its society that it’s very normal. Ghosts and magical deities governing the waters through London are all part of the day job for Peter Grant. It would be ludicrous in any other circumstance, yet somehow it just works! And you know me; I love magic in novels! What makes this a real winner for me is how even something so abstract can be written with rules that govern it. Things don’t just disappear because it’s convenient. There’s almost a degree of science behind it, which gives it some tangibility in our very black and white idea of reality.
I am enjoying the underpinning story that is developing throughout the series, but the charm of Whispers Under Ground lies in the smaller story of this book itself. In terms of the bigger picture, I feel like Whispers Under Ground is setting the scene for the later books to pick up from. There is nothing wrong with that and it is still enjoyable to see play out in the background.
The biggest selling point for me though is Peter Grant’s character. Telling an already fantastic story from the perspective of a funny, charismatic narrative voice, who isn’t shy with the dry self-depreciating wit or nerdy references just works! And props to the narrator for pulling off this character so well! I feel like I said this in every audiobook with you I’ve written so far, but it’s absolutely true! I also like that there is the consistency within the series; it would just be wrong otherwise.
As a general rule urban fantasy isn’t a branch that I read much of. However, it’s books like this series that prove why it’s good to push your boundaries. I’m really enjoying it so far and I can’t wait to see where the rest of the series takes us!