Book Review: Foxglove Summer, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Foxglove Summer, Rivers of London Book 5, Ben Aaronovitch

 

Foxglove Summer, Rivers of London Book 5, Ben Aaronovitch

Fantasy: Foxglove Summer, Rivers of London Book 5, Ben Aaronovitch

 

This fifth installment of the DC Peter Grant series of books brings London’s very most junior detective wizard to the country. Two young girls, age 11, have gone missing. Since on very rare occasions children are used in evil magical practices, DC Grant is sent to rule out involvement by an elderly retired wizard who lives in the area. Although he quickly determines that the wizard played no part in the disappearance, Grant offers to stay to help the local force in their search. He is a policeman, these are children whose lives are at stake, and so it is all hands on deck.

 

When the girls’ phones are found, though, they show signs of having been affected by magic. This puts Grant at the center of the investigation, and although the retired wizard may be innocent there are other magical forces at play. Aided by the arrival of his sometime love interest, Beverly Brook, goddess of a small river near London, Grant looks into local phenomenon that might explain where the girls had gone. There is the wizard’s mysterious daughter, who has a way with local bees and with local boys. There are the local water goddesses, who are less than pleased with Beverly’s arrival for reasons they will not explain. There are the occasional texts from his former partner who betrayed him to side with an evil magician. And there is the strange rumor that one of the missing girls had an invisible friend. Not imaginary–invisible. In other words, plenty of things to keep an investigator of the paranormal busy.

 

Aaronovitch’s writing is delightful. His plots are involved but not muddy, his characters are complex and interesting, and his prose is crisp and sometimes hilarious. He weaves in some pointed social commentary with a deft touch of humor through his examination of race as a factor in Grant’s work. Grant finds himself the only person of color involved in the search for the girls (until Beverly arrives). This gives him the opportunity to practice his diversity training, since working with all white rural police and citizens provides multiple cultural cross-currents. Fortunately he manages to avoid conflict even when some of the less broad minded citizens seem bent upon fomenting it.

 

The world building in this series is quite elaborate, and moving the setting to the country allows Aaronovitch to add multiple layers to the work he has already established in London. Grant approaches magic from a scientific mindset. He likes to reason out how and why magic works. In the city, vestigia or echoes of magic remain observable (to the trained) on hard surfaces: stone, metal, plastic, and to a much lesser extent flesh. In the country, though, with dirt and plants, how is magic absorbed…or is it? Are magical beings visible only in certain types of light? Is there a parallel fae world existing essentially overlaid on the mortal world? Those are questions that did not require a full answer on the streets of London, but in this rural setting they become central to the search for the girls.

 

Foxglove Summer is a nice addition to a series that is fun and fascinating. It is one of the best urban fantasy series I have ever read, made even better by this sojourn out of the city.

 

Also see by the same author:

Book Review: Midnight Riot, Rivers of London Book 1, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Moon Over Soho, Rivers of London Book 2, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Broken Homes. Rivers of London Book 4, Ben Aaronovitch

 

Foxglove Summer, Rivers of London Book 5, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Foxglove Summer, Rivers of London Book 5, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Broken Homes, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Broken Homes, Rivers of London Book 4, Ben Aaronovitch

Broken Homes, Rivers of London Book 4, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Broken Homes, Rivers of London Book 4, Ben Aaronovitch

Detective Peter Grant is becoming stronger in his magical powers, more confident in his detective work, but still is not allowed to drive DCI Nightingale’s jaguar around the streets of London. Nor is he very good at telling the future, like when a river goddess suggests she may start a flood, she may actually start a flood. Still, it was a small flood, insurance paid for most of it, and that really wasn’t his fault. Probably.

Broken Homes is the fourth book in what is quickly becoming one of my favorite series, The Rivers of London. Aaronovitch has quirky and likeable characters interacting in believable ways–that is, once you accept the premise that there is an entire magical London living among and amid the ordinary human residents. It makes sense that this magical London would have dedicated police officers who work to capture rogue wizards and witches, keep the peace between various magical factions, and above all prevent ordinary humans from realizing they are surrounded by magic.

Peter, Nightingale, Lesley, and the rest of the crew (including Toby the dog) are trying to solve multiple crimes when they realize that those crimes are related. We see the return of a witch they faced in a previous novel, but here they find out she is much more powerful than they had realized before. They also find clues that the “faceless man” is becoming active again, a powerful wizard who nearly killed Peter during their last encounter. Not even Nightingale is certain he can be beaten, which gives Peter and Lesley increased urgency in their training. When they are required to move into a building to investigate suspicious activity, that brings them face to face with their most challenging enemies.

Aaronovitch has built a terrific sandbox in this Rivers of London series, and invited all of us to play in it with him. Broken Homes is a fun and easy read. Well worth the time.

Also see by the same author:

Book Review: Midnight Riot, Rivers of London Book 1, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Moon Over Soho, Rivers of London Book 2, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Foxglove Summer, Rivers of London Book 5, Ben Aaronovitch

 

Broken Homes, Rivers of London Book 4, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Broken Homes, Rivers of London Book 4, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch

 

Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch

Peter Grant got his start in the police department that handles magic by interviewing a ghost who witnessed a murder. So when a young girl who lives near his parent’s apartment says she has seen a ghost, he can’t really ignore her request to come investigate it. This is the first supernatural visit to London’s underground that DC Grant and DC Lesley May make. It won’t be the last.

 

Whispers Underground is the third installment in a terrific series, Rivers of London. Ben Aaronovitch uses a lot of humor and terrific characters to tell a magical story. After investigating the ghost young Abigail has found, they are called to investigate a murder, a young man stabbed by a piece of pottery. The pottery has traces of vestigium, the echo left by magic, an echo that only those trained in magic can usually sense. Grant and May are part of the Metropolitan Police Force’s department that handles magic and the supernatural, and they are now part of a high profile case.

 

The victim is an American art student, the son of a US senator. This means that the FBI has a vested interest in the case, and despite his quite junior status on the team the agent decides that Grant is the one she should focus on. Scotland Yard may have a division focusing on magic, but it doesn’t LIKE having that division, and especially doesn’t like admitting that they have that division…or even admitting that magic exists. They certainly don’t want to share that information with their friends across the pond. This makes things awkward for Grant. He is charged with investigating a crime involving magic, underneath the watchful observation of an FBI agent, without revealing that magic is involved or even that magic exists.

 

Good. Luck.

 

Aaronovitch continues his often hilarious storytelling style in this wonderful series. The humor is quite dry. In some ways this was the most “British” of the novels, with no efforts made to translate the British idioms into American ones for us colonists. For me that adds to the charm. I don’t mind looking up words that I don’t know. If I am going to read a book set in London, written by a writer living in London, I may as well experience the full effect. A trip to London is on my bucket list…but for now I will have to settle for the vicarious experience through fiction.

 

This series continues to delight. Through wit, compassion, and maybe a little magic, Aaronovitch gives us an urban fantasy that feels very real. His characters are wonderful, his setting is vivid, and his stories are imaginative. It’s hard to ask for anything more in a book.

Also see

Book Review: Midnight Riot, Rivers of London Book 1, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Moon Over Soho, Rivers of London Book 2, Ben Aaronovitch

 

Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Moon Over Soho, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Moon Over Soho, Rivers of London Book 2, Ben Aaronovitch

 

Moon Over Soho, Rivers of London Book 2, Ben Aaronovitch

Fantasy: Moon Over Soho, Rivers of London Book 2, Ben Aaronovitch

 

“It’s a sad fact of modern life that if you drive long enough, sooner or later you must leave London behind.”

 

This may now be my favorite opening line to any novel I’ve ever read, and I’ve never been to London! In Moon Over Soho, Ben Aaronovitch continues the story of police detective and apprentice magician Peter Grant, a mixed-race human able to see ghosts. Grant uses his abilities to solve crimes involving magic. Aaronovitch uses his abilities to write fun and engaging stories that mix police procedurals with urban fantasy. I am not sure whether Aaronovitch or his character Peter Grant is truly the more magical.

 

Grant is pursuing leads surrounding the death of a jazz musician. The musician’s death normally would be attributed to natural causes, but there is a strange magical echo, called vestigium, surrounding the body. Most humans cannot sense vestigium, but the coroner can and when he does, he calls Grant and Grant’s boss, DCI Nightingale. Nightingale is still recovering from injuries received during a previous investigation, so the bulk of the detecting will be up to Grant. Grant also enlists aid from DS Lesley May, another detective who was injured during that same case.

 

Grant is also called in to consult with the Murder Team on a case where a man’s…manhood was removed and the victim left to bleed out. They suspect that the man was the victim of some kind of magical creature, one that had teeth in her…womanhood. Grant is pursuing two lines of inquiry, and he cannot help but wonder whether there is a link between these two crimes despite the very different causes of death.

 

Aaronovitch puts a lot of humor into the books. Grant sometimes struggles to learn magic, and to Nightingale’s frustration he sometimes puts spells together in ways that are less than optimal. This sometimes results in things catching on fire. Grant also has garnered an unfortunate reputation for causing property damage, a reputation only made worse by a stolen ambulance careening down London streets in a (successful) effort to save the son of a demigod. Still, his skills, instinct, and talent are all needed to solve the crimes and expose the killers and their motives.

 

Moon Over Soho builds on the solid foundation of the first book and gives greater insight to Peter Grant and Lesley May. It is a fun ride through London’s jazz scene, and does a nice job introducing new characters and setting up a larger arc for future novels. An excellent follow up in a series I am thoroughly enjoying.

 

Also see by the same author:

Book Review: Midnight Riot, Rivers of London Book 1, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Broken Homes. Rivers of London Book 4, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Foxglove Summer, Rivers of London Book 5, Ben Aaronovitch

Moon Over Soho, Rivers of London Book 2, Ben Aaronovitch

 

Book Review: Moon Over Soho, Rivers of London Book 2, Ben Aaronovitch