Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch


Back again to the world of Peter Grant! Before I get into my issues with the book I will say upfront that I really liked this story overall and I was glad I read it. I feel like it is a good continuation of the story and had some interesting story beats.

The basic story is thus:

A mutilated body is found and who better to investigate than our resident magician constable Peter Grant and the rest in The Folly, which this time includes Lesley. They (of course) suspect The Faceless Man is behind it and are quite reasonably apprehensive about running into him again after barely surviving their last encounter. Their main suspect is a man named Robert Weil and so they go about – carefully – investigating him.

They also have a case about a town planner going under a tube train and another about a stolen grimoire.

And then there is the rumors about something very odd happening on a housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans, and inhabited by the truly desperate.

AND THEN there is the usual dealings with various water spirits and Zack, the half-human/Half-something from Whispers Under Ground , the last book.

Are you starting to see what some of my problems might be?

The characters themselves are as well written as the last few books. Nightingale is his usual uptight, snobbish self (and a bit of a bad ass); Lesley is about the same, she still has her face masks on. In this one she even  gets some love from Zack of all people; And Peter is still his snarky, joking self.

Nightingale just seems like your average nice boss/grandpa, who might be a little set in his ways and stodgy. He likes things that are old fashioned and proceeds with caution in all things. He is also smart and realistic, using his brain above all else to solve the mysteries. He can also hold his own (and more) in magical fights. He has a few faults that are just now coming back to bite him. One is the fact that he assumed that magic was dying out in the world and so he never looked very hard to find any. That has resulted in a major influx of “dark” magicians who are maiming and killing people all over London.

Peter is probably my favorite character, which is good because he is the main character. I like that he is always quick with a joke or wry observation in the face of some pretty stressful and terrifying stuff. I like that he has serious questions about magic and where all of this power comes from. He is intensely loyal and values his friends and allies. Even the ones who frighten him a bit, like the water spirits, he treats with care and attention. He values being fair no matter what and always looks for a compromise. He goes though a bit of a roller coaster in this book and I’m curious how the events of this book will affect him going forward.

Speaking of events…..Lesley. *sigh* I was spoiled about what was coming by a clueless friend, and while I am interested to see where it goes, it didn’t really work for me. Spoiled from here:  

So, she betrayed our heroes to join up with The Faceless Man and his crew. I don’t know, It just seems very bland to me. Also, kind of out of left field. The reasoning in the book is that she has been promised a new face, or at least to have her face repaired by The Faceless Man. I mean I get it, she got horribly scarred and mutilated by magic so anyone who offers to fix it up good as new will be seriously considered. I just have never read her as being so concerned about it. That seems really weird to say since she obviously hates it and anyone would want a fix. It just seems unearned and rings false to me for some reason. Also, she seemed to be *way* more intolerant towards the magical community in this book than in previous novels. Maybe The Faceless Man’s influence?  Despite my misgivings, I am interested to see how her story plays out.

As I alluded to at the start, my major issue with this book is just the sheer number of plot threads. The plot just seemed to jump from plotline to plotline at random and I didn’t feel they were all brought together well enough at the end. It was just suddenly the end of the book and “Whoops, we have to throw everything together and end it!” or at least that is what it felt like to me. This book felt really disjointed compared to the last three. That was my major problem.

Overall, I liked the book and yet had a few reservations about it. The characters were well characterized but the plot meandered and skipped around on too many lines for me to really enjoy it. I still look forward to starting the fifth book to see how things go!


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