Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
I’m not always in the mood for urban fantasy, which is why sometimes these books stay on the shelf a little longer than I may have intended, or preferred. But nevertheless, I will always return to them, eventually, and begin to merrily delve back into the world of (if I have my preference) magical London.
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch has been sitting on my shelf for several months now, but within a day of picking it up, I’d finished it. The author manages to once again write an absolute cracker of a book, continuing the wonderful story already in place, while telling a brand new tale in a completely different location.
For the first time, the author’s main character Peter Grant heads into the countryside, to investigate what may or may not be a magical case. Things aren’t very clear for a long time, but little by little, Grant begins to piece together a truly fantastical mystery.
Thankfully, for my romantic heart, Beverly Brook comes to visit and help out, and the continuing romance and relationship between her and Grant left me very happy. I have since dared Ben Aaronovitch to keep the two together in a non-dramatic and healthy long-lasting relationship. I can too easily envision the two reaching a conflict point, which would helpfully create some more content for the author, but seems to me to be a perpetually lazy option for authors to take.
Peter Grant’s growth as a magician is somewhat less important to this story as is his growth as a police officer. I was quite impressed with how the story shows him stepping up, taking responsibility, and proving himself a capable officer – even if his beat is a bit weird. And in the end, though to no surprise, Peter Grant saves the day – albeit, a little earlier than you would imagine, and therefore, not necessarily as cleanly as you first suspect.
Foxglove Summer deserves all the praise regularly heaped upon author Ben Aaronovitch for this PC Peter Grant series. It’s delightful, charming, witty, and had me laughing all the way through. It is beautifully written, perfectly timed, and flows like the rivers that are so important to the story and to the main character. If you haven’t picked up these books yet, there’s clearly something wrong.
Joshua S Hill, 8/10
Sometimes it's hard when things don’t live up to expectation. It's important to remember even the best story tellers can have bad days and having been a fan of this series for a number of years I can honestly say this is my least favourite book (of the series). Foxglove Summer (still trying to figure out why this particular title was used, the reference only appears once in the book that I remember) has a number of favourable elements going for it, but unfortunately it has a number of negative ones, which do outweigh the positive.
For those expecting the next instalment in the hunt for the Faceless Man, I am afraid you will be disappointed. What Aaronovitch has written is a standalone novel with little or no linkage back to the last book. Peter is off on his own, no Nightingale, Molly or even Toby. This is not a bad thing in on itself, but I felt the treatment did not necessitate a full novel and by removing the 'filler' this would have been a great novella.
It was good to see Peter break out on his own, thinking and acting for himself and getting creative with his ideas concerning magic. Unfortunately, we are given these flashes of independent thinking without the detail or thoughts I had come to expect and have read from the other novels. It just feels we are expected to take some of the concepts presented on face value, either because Aaronovitch did not or could not expand on the material.
If you are reading Foxglove Summer you are already familiar with the background, characters and story styling offered throughout the series. There has always been a lot of attention to detail in relation to police call signs, procedures and operational material and in contrast to my previous paragraph Aaronovitch went into overdrive with these story details. The shear amount of acronyms used for police related material got to a point I began to gloss over these sections and paragraphs, searching for the position the story took up again. One page in particular comes to mind, where it felt like I was reading line after line of police jargon.
I know this is only a small thing, but it was indicative off many of the other negative themes. There were constant references to how hot the summer was, which had no impact on the plot. Okay, it’s hot, mention it and move on. Over description of streets, buildings, people and the shape of a single dew drop, perfect like the tear of an angel on an astonishingly imperfect leaf, on a summer’s morning, the sunlight shining through its heavenly clearness. Yes, the last one was me, and yes, I am being flippant, but it really was overkill, detracting from the story rather than adding to it.
Aaronovitch leads the reader through a story of child abduction and return, but gives no strong rationale why these kids have been taken in the first place other than a disenchanted, because this is what elves do. It's deflating and disappointing. I am not sure if this was just me, but in previous books I remember being told that there was no other magic practitioners alive in Britain and now low and behold we find out there are many retired ex-folly magic users living in the country, have their own society and Nightingale knows all about them. If you were going to drop a major change in this, I would have hoped for something as like a secret society as an explanation not just slipping it in, hoping no one notices.
Aspects of the story like the conclusion felt overstated and superfluous (kind of like me and this review), elves tall, graceful and quick silver taking kids back to their alternative reality. It's not original, it's not inventive and basically it was a snore-fest. The only somewhat unique component was when the elves did return to their reality they became more real and grittier, but as this lasted about two pages, it really it’s a big selling point.
Understandably, you can't expect gold all the time and regardless of the flaws in the story I did enjoy some fundamentals of this story. However, I think I would have enjoyed it more if it were scaled back and a novella was offered.
Peter Grant is still as enjoyable and relatable a character to read as ever. The world he inhabits will still draw me back again but Foxglove Summer… I will put this down as a disenfranchised story, which thankfully doesn’t detract from the main plot. Roll on Hanging Tree, redemption awaits…
Fergus McCartan, 5/10
All reviews for: Rivers of London series
Have you read Foxglove Summer?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Foxglove Summer reader reviews
6.5/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Powder Mage Trilogy
The alchemy of gunpowder fused with the magic of sorcery. In a time of upheaval, resurgence and corrupted Royalty Privileged, one-man’s love for his lost wife and his...
The Magicians series
In a secret world of forbidden knowledge, power comes at a terrible price... Quentin Coldwater's life is changed forever by an apparently chance encounter: when he turn...
In the first age of Andeira, men and dragons brought together the two halves of the elemental magic of the world to create a union through which their magic, and the world,...
The House of Shattered Wings
Aliette de Bodard
Paris in the aftermath of the Great Magicians War. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black, thick with ashes and...
When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford - Samuel Johnson. In fact, Dr Johnson was only half right. There is in Lo...
Winter Be My Shield
Sierra has a despised and forbidden gift - she raises power from the suffering of others. Enslaved by the king's torturer, Sierra escapes, barely keeping ahead of Raste...
Mark de Jager
Stratus wakes alone, with no memory of his past. All he knows is his name and that he is not human. Possessing immense strength, powerful sorcery and an insatiable hunger, ...
The Dresden Files
Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Reasonable rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment. Harry Dresden is the best and technicall...
The Relic Guild
Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us. It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawl...
Stranger of Tempest
Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; a dying breed in the Riven Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent's p...
Alex Verus series
Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and the canal. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals, where tourists and moody teena...
Cloak of Magic
Somewhere along the line where human nature meets human imagination, myths are created. Somewhere in that space lives the spirit that created and sustains Shehaios, the Fai...
Condemned to four thousand years of loneliness and regret, Ilfayne finds a rare thing in Hilde: a friend. For that, he will do anything to keep her safe. Just as he gathers...
Arrows of the Queen
Thirteen-year-old Talia longs for a better life, far away from her repressive stepmothers and the village of Sensholding, where books chronicling the adventures of the Hera...
The Wizard of Rainbows
Mark A Cropper
There is a road of darkness and awful peril, a path that shall take you to places beyond the knowledge of men. The Lord-of-Mists has awakened in his dark realm with one pur...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
- Recommended contemporary / urban fantasy books/series
- Recommended books/series featuring wizards and magicians
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer's legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the was...
A Tale of Time City
Diana Wynne Jones
When Vivian is evacuated from London in 1939, she expects to be staying in the countryside. Instead, she is whisked away to Time City – a place that exists outside ti...
The Guns of Empire
As the roar of the guns subsides and the smoke of battle clears, the country of Vordan is offered a fragile peace... After their shattering defeats at the hands of brillian...
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth....
Events are coming to a climax in the Banished Lands, as the war reaches new heights. King Nathair has taken control of the fortress at Drassil and three of the Seven Treasu...
For Kivrin Engle, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the four...