Reviews | Written by Ed Fortune 22/03/2021

WHAT ABIGAIL THAT LAST SUMMER

FORMAT: HARDCOVER (REVIEWED) | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

Ben Aaronovich has created a very rich and detailed world with his Rivers of London series. However the main books are very much the story of Detective Peter Grant and The Folly and focus on a semi-secret branch of the Metropolitan Police Service that deals with supernatural matters. Grant has wrestled monster and gods in the main series, but the books have always hinted at more to this fantastic world bubbling under the surface of the mundane. It’s a long series and being a canny author, Ben has produced a series of novella’s that work as stand-alone stepping on points for the main books; What Abigail Did That Summer is the latest of these.

The novellas have mostly focused on telling side-stories from this world, letting the reader take a break from the amazing Mr Grant.  What Abigail Did That Summer focuses of Abigail Kamara, Peter’s precocious teenage cousin who has caught the scent of magic and wants to know more, despite all the dangers. Abigail is intelligent, curious and very much the trouble-maker.

When people her age start going missing around Hampstead Heath , Abigail finds herself investigating. The kids aren’t gone long enough for the police to investigate fully, but something awry is going on and Abigail is the sort of girl who can’t stop herself from getting involved.

She’s helped by another element of the series that the fans have wanted know more about for ages; London’s talking foxes. Of course, they won’t talk to just anyone so Abigail is one of the lucky few. They’re an interesting mix of comic relief and serious business the foxes and provide the living folklore element to the story that makes these books so appealing.

Aaronvitch quickly finds a voice for Abigail; she’s smart and nerdy, brave and wise enough to stay alive, but really not very cautious. One of the novella’s gags come in form of various footnotes explaining her youthful turn of phrase, which is actually quite handy for the older reader. Oh, and it has the most charming map of Hampstead Heath we've seen in a long while, and it's almost worth it just for that.

This is a nice change of style and pace for fans of the series and a great introduction for those looking for a fun fantasy read.