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I was a little hesitant to pick up one more urban noir fantasy set in London having already read Peter Grant, Alex Verus, Felix Castor, and Courts of Feyre - all UNF series set in or around London. However, London is 2000 years old and packed with history so I finally decided the city could probably support one more. Good decision, me! After listening to London Falling, I decided that London actually could support several more UNF series if there are more writers like Paul Cornell.
The Publisher's Summary is quite sufficient to give you a flavor of this tale and get you started, however, I will note an explanation of one thing that confused me at the outset in case it might help someone else. The story begins with two detectives, Costain and Sefton, undercover attempting to bust a mob boss, Rob Toshack. DI James Quill (Costain's and Sefton's boss) has a brief meeting with Costain in a men's room to give him instructions. The very beginning of the book was a bit confusing to me because I didn't quite understand who were the bad guys, who were the police, and how they were interacting. Part of this is because Damian Lynch uses a very authentic accent for the seedier types of London, which nicely sets the tone of the book, but makes for a challenge for American ears. You have to get the rhythm of that accent before you can really understand what is being said and who is saying it. I would encourage you to stay with it, because once you get clear (it only takes about 15 minutes), this gritty, history-soaked tale really takes off.
There are several things in this series that make it unique and bear special mention:
1. I like urban noir fantasy, especially when the dark stories are offset a bit with humor and good characters. London Falling has both - no LOL, but lots of wry, ironic moments and believable, fleshed out characters.
2. Unlike most UNF, there is no one central wizard, mage, or necromancer. If fact, in the beginning, there are no magic-wielders on the protagonist side at all. Each of the four central protagonists has a backstory that draws him/her into the mystery and each has certain talents that are enhanced and informed by one moment that the four share while trying to solve the case. From that point, although Quill is "in charge", the four members of the team are equal and essential to the resolution of the mystery. So, this is a "team" series rather than another "lone wolf" escapade.
3. London Falling is very dark and truly gritty. Unlike several authors I have read recently, Cornell seems to understand that gritty and vulgar are not synonyms. There isn't much coarse language or lewdness in London Falling, but there is a deep creepiness that makes London Falling read more like some horror mysteries than like other UNF novels.
I have continued this series with the next book, The Severed Streets, and there were lots more surprises and another story utilizing the loooooong, crazy history of London. And, once you adjust your ears to Damian Lynch, I think you'll enjoy this narrator, too.
49 of 59 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about London Falling?
The character development of our four "heroes" was just wonderful. I felt like I really understood what made them tick, even in the bizarre supernatural world that they discovered. In the middle of incredible and incomprehensible events, I cared and cheered for these people.
What did you like best about this story?
Somehow this impossible world became plausible. I think it's very, very difficult for an author to maintain any credibility while writing about the supernatural - but this book does it. The plot held water in a way that built suspense and was immensely satisfying at the end.
What about Damian Lynch’s performance did you like?
He has a sort of halting style that was a little distracting at first, but quickly it became just right for the story because it gave me a bit of time to think between phrases. This can be a tough story to follow but the narrator helped make it work. Plus, of course, his accent is brilliant!
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Its British-ness was wonderful to hear! I am one of the countless American anglo-philes out there; this book was written for Brits alone so I had to work to understand some of the language that was used. A labor of love!
Any additional comments?
Can't WAIT to listen to the sequel.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
I wasn't sure at first. The first chapter dumps you straight in the middle of an undercover police operation which is about to get chaotic and there is no exposition to help you understand what is going on. But then the magical stuff starts to happen and it turns out the protagonists have no idea what is going on either. I read a review that said if Rivers of London is The Bill, then London Falling is The Sweeney; darker and more violent. Like Ben Aaronovitch's London, it's authentically multi-cultural and all kinds of magic grows from the city's lengthy history and complex mythology. I LIVE for this stuff :)
There's one amazing reveal that is brilliantly handled. Really did not see it coming and it's perfect - I genuinely gasped out loud when I realized.
It's the start of a series and whilst the main storyline is resolved there is lots of setup for the next book(s). From initially thinking it wasn't for me (NB Wolves of London which I really couldn't get on with) I ended up binge listening and getting the sequel straight away to binge listen to that too.
Damian Lynch does a great job; well pace, all the characters clearly differentiated and believable.
24 of 25 people found this review helpful
I can only agree to some of other reviews - the story line sounds too familiar and it is quite hard to get in to the story at first. If you are a fan of Ben Aaronovitch and expect something like Rivers of London there might be a disappointment. For my taste there is too much of everything - witch sanctifying children according the football scores, talking cats and time travel, even a hint of free masonry... If with Aaronovitch`s books one actually starts to believe the story and it positively drags you in, then with this story you just do not believe. I had to force to listen until the end, just out of curiosity how it shall end.
The performance though is very impressive.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
It took a while to understand the roles of the team as I was only half paying attention at the start and the names were so confusing... Costan, Sefton, toshack, quill... I couldn't work out who was the main character... Soon I realised there wasn't one, but four!
I loved the depth that added to the story. However sometimes it was easy to get lost as to what character he was talking about as the narrator sometimes as it changes quickly between the four characters.
Overall I loved it though!!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Was referred this series by Rivers of London fans , it’s as good if not better...