Of Musings and Wonderings

{August 9, 2013}   London Falling – Paul Cornell [Book Review]

15779584London Falling starts towards the end of an undercover operation, in which Costain, after four years of playing the same role, is starting to lose himself. Paranoia and fear are setting in, wondering if the man he is working with – Sefton – is out to get him and if he will survive whatever Quill, his boss, has planned once the operation ends.

Things kick off right at the start, as we’re plunged into this underworld of London ruled by crime bosses. Straightaway we’re introduced to the same world Costain and Sefton have been living in, and although it’s seedy and dark, it has both feet planted firmly in reality.

Until Toshack, the crime boss they have been after for so long, is killed very strangely and mysteriously in the interview room, right in front of Quill.

Costain, Sefton, Quill and Ross, an intelligence analyst, are plunged into an even darker world as they attempt to unravel the mystery of Toshack’s death. They find themselves seeing things they shouldn’t be seeing, competing against darker forces than any of them have ever come up against before. Forming their own, small team, they begin to fight against the side of London none of them even knew existed.

London Falling is brilliant urban fantasy, set in the biggest urban setting in the UK. And there is a real London feel to it, from the different stories they unravel, to the football team West Ham playing a role and even the real history of the city. As the characters become used to this world, so do we, and we see it clearly through their eyes as they discover new aspects of their home and of themselves.

There is nothing about this novel that won’t draw you in. Each character stands brilliantly in their own right, and every moment spent with each individual makes you care about them all the more. You’re drawn into their minds as much as drawn into the world springing to life around them, and each of them has their own strengths – and weaknesses – that they utilize when exploring and fighting the forces at work. Each has their own conflict, their own desires and their own reasons for what they’re doing. And it all gels nicely together, as the novel moves seamlessly from one POV to another.

It all has the feel of a TV series, which is no surprise as it started life as a TV pitch, with Stephen Moffat. (Why is this not in existence?) It works well, and there is a kind of Torchwood feel to it all, just with less aliens. The paranormal aspects of the novel all have their own unique feels and unique twists; there’s nothing here, really, that has been seen before. Even the ghosts have a unique back story, rather than your run of the mill dead people come to life.

London Falling is a brilliantly unique novel, that drags you right in with the characters and doesn’t let go, even at the end of the novel. And, best part, there’s a sequel (The Severed Streets – brilliant title) coming out in the UK in December. Which makes yet another series I’m going to have to wait for.


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