13 Mar 2013

London Falling by Paul Cornell [book review]

Written by Paul Cornell
Published by Tor Books
ARC- 400 pages
Published December 2012
Copy provided by publisher
You might have guessed that I've a soft spot for contemporary fantasy novels that are set in London (there's nothing set in Cardiff as far as I know, so London's the nearest point I have). There's something special about reading a story set in an area that you've been so with places you've seen, but with an added level of fantasy to quicken the blood. This is what London Falling does best.

The strength of London Falling is in its Britishness. Like contemporary fantasties before it, London is almost an entity unto itself. It's a city with such a rich and turbulent history that every street and house is saturated with some kind of history, and Cornell uses this to great effect with his concept of being 'remembered'.

I loved Cornell's protagonists. Costain, Sefton, Ross and Quill are connected by their gift - the ability to see London's true nature - and this gift draws them closer together. They're British coppers through and through, going as far as saying the immortal line "you're nicked!" I don't know how this Britishness translates for overseas readers, but for me it adds an extra level of believability to the world.

London Falling  is pretty fast paced throughout, and it's one of the few books I've read where I can feel my pulse raise as I read through each chapter. Once the pace drops, the tension is heightened, so you're always on edge as you read. Cornell's antagonist, Mora Losley, is both sad and terrifying in equal measure.There were one or two scenes that seemed a little irrelevant to the plot of the book and could have been trimmed without affecting the story arc, and the first few chapters are a little slow going compared to the rest of the book.

If you're looking for a dark, contemporary fantasy, then I highly recommend London Falling. Cornell has made the perfect blend of cops and monsters; mixing the police procedural with the supernatural to great effect. Fans of Aaranovitch who are looking for something darker and more sinister, look no further.


  1. Cops and monsters? Similar in feel to Preston and Child's Pendergast series?
    And you're right London is a character all on her own.

    1. I've not read any of the Pendergast novels; I'll take a look at them now and see how they compare :)

  2. I love stories full of Britishness! This sounds good.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  3. I think I've absorbed enough Terry Pratchett to recognize "You're nicked!"

    But seriously, I'd like to see some more books set in the UK that aren't all in London. You'd swear that all of the UK is just one enormous London.


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