The October Man, Ben Aaronovitch (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-908-4, $40, 216 pg, hc) May 2019.
In the novella The October Man, Ben Aaronovitch travels across the English Channel from Peter Grant’s magic-infused London to Tobias Winter’s magic-infused Trier, Germany. While they don’t share a language, Trier and London have a lot in common regardless. Both have rivers and river goddesses who inhabit them. Both were first settled by Romans. And both have small-but-mighty police squads devoted to understanding the uncanny that skips merrily through the countryside.
Winter is not the wit Grant is but makes up for his relative seriousness with a discipline his British cohort lacks. When he is called to a murder scene in a local vineyard — the deceased was presumably killed by a rampant grape fungus — his first impulse is to check for radiation rather than magic. Because, he explains, “as Mama says, far better to be safe than radioactive.”
Winter’s stolidness is a feature rather than a bug. While there are moments of adventure and daring, the story of this crime is both a satisfying whodunit and a primer on how magic works in Deutschland. The October Man would be an interesting place to enter the Rivers of London world. Rather than fae, a new reader would anticipate werewolves, perhaps — and still greatly enjoy Aaronovitch’s work. Those who know the Folly will appreciate this outsider’s view of Grant and Nightingale, as well as learn a bit about how the latter spent the war, while still greatly enjoying Aaronovitch’s work, even if it is set someplace new.
Adrienne Martini has been reading or writing about science fiction for decades and has had two non-fiction, non-genre books published by Simon and Schuster. She lives in Upstate New York with one husband, two kids, and one corgi. She also runs a lot.
This review and more like it in the April 2019 issue of Locus.
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