My review of Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
Four books in and I am still enjoying all elements of this series. The narrative in Broken Homes is well constructed, engaging and immersive and its what I have come to expect from Aaronovitch. The plot picks not long after the events of Whispers Under Ground; Lesley is now an apprentice and becoming a better one than Peter, but the Folly Team is no closer to capturing the Masked Man. A villain who tempts, seduces and can pull the ones we love into the dark and wild.
Aaronovitch has taken a slight change in perspective for Broken Homes. There was scaled down focus on the day to day magical elements but when magic is employed its on a more ambitious level. The attention is aimed more to criminal investigative side of the Folly team, solving the mystery with hard work and a quick mind. This was a nice change of pace and adds to the overall dynamic of the plot and characters. Old secrets get revealed, new magical lessons are learnt and magic isn’t as dead as everyone thinks.
Peter, Lesley and Nightingale finally come to realisation the Masked Man is just another criminal capable of missteps and mistakes and not some Moriarty or Machiavellian genius. Unfortunately they still have no clues to his identify.
Regrettably this time round we don’t have get much interaction with the Personas of the River Gods other than an amusing chapter where we get to see what men do best around the opposite sex, putting their foot in it. No matter if you are a wizard, understanding women or River Goddesses we get it wrong more times than not. To balance this absence of incarnated Gods we are introduced to other magical entities from lore and legend: Fairies and Wood Nymph abound. In a world where magic is meant to be dying, there are a lot of enchanted and charmed communities about.
Broken Homes begins to try and explain some of the history of magic in this world, illustrated best in the German Hedge-Witches dynamic and there involvement in WWII. The fact there were and may still be other magic institutes begins to make Nightingale more human and accessible as it shows even he doesn’t know was much as he though he did.
You can’t go passed the humor in these books, reading Peters attempts to use dog barks as scientific measurement in his research into magic and let’s not forget Molly’s learning to cook and everyone still going hungry.
The times when magical ‘kick-assery’ is employed absorbing and energizing. Nightingale coming to the rescue of Peter and Lesley, a cottage collapsing around him and walking out fixing his tie in one hand and dragging the bad guy with the other, very Bond.
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