We deep-dyed fans of the Peter Grant Rivers of London universe (the Metropolitan Police’s ‘weird shit’ squad who deal with magic) have been waiting impatiently for the next book to come along. Aaronovitch has been writing the interpolated Rivers of London comic strip series for a year or two (I wrote about this here and here), but finally he’s brought Peter back in book form. The Furthest Station is, however, a damn short book to have waited all this time for.
It’s advertised as a novella, so we knew what we were getting, and it’s a good one, packed with world-building extensions and advanced theory of magic. Peter’s young cousin Abigail has become a ferocious intellect rather than just a precocious practitioner, because she has remembered – which Peter had not – that he had promised that she could begin to learn magic if she got a good Latin A-Level. Her Latin is now stupendous, apparently.
Peter and colleagues investigate a haunted Tube carriage, and extract the message that somebody has kidnapped a woman who needs help, somewhere along that line. During the investigation to pin down where and who, Peter meets a young river god and his worried foster parents, who are just a joy. One of the most entertaining episodes two novels back, in Foxglove Summer, was Bev’s calm fertilisation of a godless river with a new deity, with Peter’s fervent assistance. Aaronovitch’s excursions around the mythology of Britain’s new gods and how they came to be here, make a framework for the system of magic that the novels, and comics, are based on, so it is meaningful as well as playful to find out more about how it all works.
Yet, even as a novella, The Furthest Station feels skimped. The solution to the mystery is unresolved when it shouldn’t be, and the shakedown leaves too many ends flapping. It feels rushed, and unfinished. Are the comics to blame? Should we be petitioning for fewer distractions so the books get the time they need? Or are the comics the way forward for Rivers of London, now that Peter has an established visual presence? I shall be listening with interest when Aaronovitch talks about The Furthest Station at the Gollanczfest in London in a week or so.