Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Midnight Riot (audiobook) by Ben Aaronovitch, narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Midnight Riot is urban fantasy.

My read-alikes/watch-alikes list is a lazy, slight edited version of what I included in my review of the paper version of this book.


Probationary Constable Peter Grant wants to become a murder cop but seems far more likely to become a paper pusher. That all changes after he speaks to a ghostly witness at a crime scene and his abilities and willingness to keep an open mind bring him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the only member of the London Metropolitan Police who is also a magician. Peter becomes Nightingale's apprentice and tries to get a handle on magic and its rules, even as he investigates brutal murders and attempts to keep the peace between feuding river gods.

I bought this during an Audible sale because I enjoyed the book when I first read it several years ago and because I mostly liked the narrator's voice. The narrator, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, was wonderful as both Peter and Nightingale, but he had an unfortunate tendency to sound out to breath. It wasn't so bad as to affect my enjoyment of the book, but it was noticeable. It was worst at the beginning but thankfully got better later on, only cropping up again during the action scenes. I was left wondering if maybe he had been a little sick when he first started recording.

At any rate, the things I enjoyed about his narration outweighed the things I didn't. Most of his character voices were decent. The only one I came close to disliking was his voice for Lesley. He was great as Peter, but it was his voice for Nightingale that truly won me over. It felt like he was imitating an actor I'd seen/heard before, but I couldn't place who it was.

As far as the story went, it was about as good as I remembered, although a bit gorier than I recalled. Faces falling off and all that. Also, as a warning for those who need it, there was one instance of an infant being killed – unlike some of the book's other deaths, that one wasn't particularly detailed, but it was on-page.

Peter irked me a bit more this time around. I don't know if it was just me or the audio format making it more obvious or what, but it seemed like sex was always on his mind. He didn't act as though anyone owed it to him, and Aaronovitch didn't use it as an excuse for Lesley and Beverley to act catty with each other, but it was still a bit tiresome.

Although I own a paper copy of Whispers Under Ground (the next book in the series that I haven't yet read), I'm leaning towards getting it in audio form and listening to it instead. The narration really grew on me. Plus, I have an Audible credit that needs to be used soon.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:

  • Anansi Boys (book) by Neil Gaiman - Technically, the first book Gaiman wrote that was set in this world was American Gods. However, I think Anansi Boys is better. Those who'd like something else featuring gods who live among humans and a good dose of dry humor might want to give it a shot. I'm pretty sure it works fine as a standalone.
  • Storm Front (book) by Jim Butcher - The first book in Butcher's Dresden Files series. Those who'd like another urban fantasy series starring a male character and featuring a good dose of bloody murder mystery and snarky humor might want to give this a try.
  • The Mister Trophy (e-short story) by Frank Tuttle - Again, another good one for those who'd like a mix of snarky humor, mystery, and fantasy. The main character is a private eye in a world populated with an uneasy mix of humans, vampires, trolls, and more. I've written about this short story.
  • Neverwhere (book) by Neil Gaiman - If you liked Midnight Riot's combination of fantasy with lots of London details, give this book a try. Gaiman creates a dark fantasy world that exists in "London Below," just underneath and outside the notice of all us ordinary, everyday people. I've written about the audio drama.
  • Guards! Guards! (book) by Terry Pratchett - If you'd like more cops, fantasy, and dry humor, give this book a try. It's not the first book in the series, but I'm pretty sure it still works as a good entry point for newbies.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (manga) by Hiromu Arakawa; Fullmetal Alchemist (anime TV series) - If you loved the way Peter approached magic from a logical, more scientific standpoint, you might want to give this series a try. In the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, alchemy is seen as a science. The manga and original anime series are drastically different after a certain point, but both are good. There's another anime adaptation, but I wouldn't recommend newbies to the series begin with it, because of the way it shortchanges some of the emotional content in the beginning. I've written about volume 16 of the manga and part of the original anime series and a couple boxed sets of the new anime series.

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