RIVERS OF LONDON: DEADLY EVER AFTER by Aaronovitch, Cartmel & Bronfman (BOOK REVIEW)
Rivers of London: Deadly Ever After
Created by – Ben Aaronovitch
Written by – Celeste Bronfman
Script Edited by – Andrew Cartmel
Pencils by -José María Beroy
Inks by – David Cabeza
Colours by – Jordi Escuin Llorach
Letters by – Jim Campbell
Edited by – David Leach
You might be surprised to hear that I have never read Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series. I know! You’d think it would be right up my street. But, as with a number of fantastic series out there, I have the book: I just haven’t read it yet. So, when Will from Titan Comics asked if I was interested in the latest graphic novel from series, I thought it would be a great way of glimpsing what all the fuss is about.
It’s certainly whetted my appetite for more!
Rivers of London: Deadly Ever After follows Olympia and Chelsea, daughters of the river goddess Mama Thames, as they discover just how much harder messes are to clean up than make. Peter and Nightingale aren’t on hand to help out, so when they unwittingly break an enchantment and release a bitter and resentful 19th century artist from his entrapment by nymphs, they have to untangle the ensuing fairy tale muddle themselves.
Right at the start, we’re treated to a beautiful map of the Thames illustrating how the book series and the graphic novels fit together. It’s super helpful, and apparently although each stands alone, they are all “essential parts of the saga”. This is one thing I will forewarn, that although I was able to enjoy the story and take the characters for who they were as it was, I did get the sense that a number of things might have landed better had I read the rest of the series first. There’s a lack of exposition which points towards the assumption that the reader has prior knowledge. As I said, this didn’t hamper my reading, I just think fans of the series will get more out of this than newcomers like me.
Despite that, I did enjoy the story. A friendly get together for a BBQ in the woods goes awry when members of the group start acting out fairy tales; the vegan suddenly turns big bad wolf, the actor playing a prince on stage gives up his role to focus on his new love of amphibians, and Snow White falls into a coma after her step-mother hands her an apple… I’m a huge fan of fairy tales, and I love reading stories that bring them into the modern world. It was great fun (for me, not the characters, as it transpires) finding out who was going to end up in which tale next.
As much as they’d love to bury their noses in their phones and absolve themselves of guilt, twins Olympia and Chelsea figure they probably have a moral obligation to get to the bottom of why these fairy tales are coming to life. I had the impression that these are perhaps side characters in previous books who have been given the opportunity to shine here, and it was lovely to getting to know them. They were a great mix of the aloofness you’d expect from the divine, with the need to prove oneself to your ‘betters’ of your average teenage.
Olympia and Chelsea were great protagonists, but my favourite characters were a pair of talking foxes. Because obviously. It’s talking animals. They’re always going to be my favourite.
Deadly Ever After is a great mix of fairy tale, magical action, humour, and even a little horror – Jeter, our victim turned unwitting villain had a really tough time of it and came across as quite creepy! He had a eyes-glowing-with-obsession vibe, but it was also easy to sympathise with the great-grandad trying to make up for lost time and look out for his great-granddaughter. Kind of. Mostly.
The artwork was certainly affective in conveying those moments of horror, focusing in on expressions to bring us closer to the emotion of the character. I loved the Arthur Rackham-like nymphs and sprites featured on Buisán’s cover above, immediately giving the impression that any fae that may turn up will not be the friendly kind.
All in all, this was a fun romp with plenty of exciting supernatural action in the world of Rivers of London; a great taster for anyone new to the series with its self-contained story, but also bound to be a great deal of fun for fans who will appreciate the cameos.
Rivers of London: Deadly Ever After is available now from Titan Comics. You can order your copy HERE