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Rivers of London #5.3

What Abigail Did That Summer

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Ghost hunter, fox whisperer, troublemaker.

It is the summer of 2013 and Abigail Kamara has been left to her own devices. This might, by those who know her, be considered a mistake. While her cousin, police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, is off in the sticks chasing unicorns Abigail is chasing her own mystery. Teenagers around Hampstead Heath have been going missing but before the police can get fully engaged the teens return home – unharmed but vague about where they’ve been.

Aided only by her new friend Simon, her knowledge that magic is real and a posse of talking foxes that think they’re spies, Abigail must venture into the wilds of Hampstead to discover who is luring the teenagers and more importantly – why?

Limited: 2500 signed numbered hardcover copies

Lettered: 26 signed leatherbound copies, housed in a custom traycase

232 pages, Hardcover

First published March 18, 2021

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About the author

Ben Aaronovitch

139 books11.4k followers
Ben Aaronovitch's career started with a bang writing for Doctor Who, subsided in the middle and then, as is traditional, a third act resurgence with the bestselling Rivers of London series.

Born and raised in London he says that he'll leave his home when they prise his city out of his cold dead fingers.

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5 stars
3,362 (42%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 894 reviews
Profile Image for carol..
1,515 reviews7,717 followers
June 1, 2021
This was mostly a delight. It won't work for everyone, I'm sure, but for me it was strongly reminiscent of The Furthest Station and a delightful return to the world of magical London. You see, I have to specify 'magical,' because False Value, the most recent novel in the series, was felt endlessly about Google a hip big tech company and less about the Folly. It also has clever foxes who run espionage rings. It doesn't have any of Peter's clever voice, but it does have Abigail, and I think Aaronovitch did a decent job at getting inside her head. But what do I know? Both he and I are on the wrong side of the century to say for sure.

At any rate, I liked Abigail's left-brain thinking, and the development of the relationship with another kid. It did strike me that the occasional slang sounded a touch off--I think perhaps because usually kids that speak in such have either hardly at all or a lot in their vocabulary--but again, what do I know? I appreciated the Professor Martin editor artifice. What I didn't love was the ultimate conflict. Eventually, I got what was happening, and I think it worked for the story, but I'm not sure I actually liked it. I also didn't love that Abigail .

All that said, it's one of the first print editions of the world of The Folly that I've enjoyed in quite some time, making for a bittersweet return.
Profile Image for Lois Bujold.
Author 161 books37.6k followers
May 9, 2021

Continuing my Aaronovitch catch-up this weekend. I knew almost nothing about this book going in, more short YA novel than novella it turns out, though I'd become acquainted with Abigail as a character from earlier books in the Rivers of London series. Being in large part a magical mystery, not having spoilers going in was a Good Thing, so I won't add much here, except to note that the author's love affair with historical London finds an excellent additional vehicle. I certainly enjoyed it.

Was given the lovely SubPress edition as a gift, but I bought the ebook as a reading copy for the insta-large-print.

Ta, L.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,160 reviews2,009 followers
June 30, 2021
This is a longish novella and also a departure from the norm, as it is told from the point of view of young Abigail instead of Peter Grant. I listened to the audio version which has a female narrator instead of our usual Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.

This was a fun book with a clever story and some rather spooky offerings. It also leaned quite heavily towards the magical world with a whole troupe of talking foxes and input from a river god and other fey. Abigail is always an enjoyable character. She is undeniably very smart and sensible but she also has a streak of daring and sometimes investigates where she maybe should not.

All in all this is an entertaining book and it was nice to spend time with Abigail. I hope we get to see her more in the future but preferably at the Folly, learning her magic from Peter and Nightingale.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,500 reviews2,315 followers
March 3, 2021
What Abigail Did That Summer
(Rivers of London)
by Ben Aaronovitch
Subterranean Press @SubPress
March 18, 2021 publishing date
Abigail is the cousin to constable and wizard Peter Grant. This is really about all the background we find out about Abigail, that and her parents are often gone. So the beginning is slightly confusing.
Most of the story is told by Abigail giving an account of what happened to the missing teens and her new friend by explaining to a Fed officer and to the friend's mom. The story is wild and crazy! The world is strange! I have read a few of Peter Grant's books but this was different.
There are gods, talking military foxes, a hidden dimension!
Very exciting but not as easy to follow as others. I can't wait to read more of this series!
I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this book!
Profile Image for Leonie.
Author 8 books166 followers
March 20, 2021
I wondered if I'd like this one. I'm a real fan of the Peter Grant stories, and I wasn't sure if changing protagonists would work for me. Or the change to present tense, for that matter, because I often struggle with stories written using it.

But I loved it.

Abigail is an excellent protagonist, and the little footnotes from Nightingale are just the icing on the cake. Understanding her backstory, her involvement with the foxes, and her interactions with other people really added depth. And the ending...I'm really hoping to see a whole string of Abigail stories/books as a result.

Highly recommended to fans of this series.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,829 reviews358 followers
January 3, 2022
I adore Abigail. Love Peter too, but he wasn't around for this little tea party, was he? This is a decent sized novella and I'm glad that my library purchased it, as the price here in Canada is bloody exorbitant!

Ghost hunter, fox whisperer, troublemaker. This is not a young woman who is going to sit back and let the world run over her. I admire her intelligence and bravery, getting her friends and herself out of a dodgy situation. (Mind you, she got them into it as well).

If that wasn't enough, there's the talking foxes. Conducting surveillance no less and hoovering up cheese puffs, as any self respecting investigator would do, given the chance. I especially enjoyed Abigail's meeting with Control, the fox mastermind. Shades of John Le Carre, there. And the foxy story about how they lost the ability to speak (although they are unwilling to share how they regained it).

I do hope there will be more Abigail adventures (and judging from the ending, there will be).
Profile Image for Paul.
2,306 reviews20 followers
May 3, 2021
This Rivers of London novella is really rather wonderful. You do need to have read the books that precede it; I certainly wouldn’t recommend starting here; but for existing fans this is a real corker.

The story unfolds at a nice pace, the characters all feel real (even the ones who couldn’t possibly be), the stakes are high and the book has real heart. The ending was really touching and had me reaching for the tissue box.

My only real complaints are that (a) I wish it had been longer and (b) Abigail’s narrative voice and general attitude make me feel virtually decrepit; thank goodness for the slang translations in the footnotes, quite frankly... the thought of reading this book without them makes me bare pang...

My next book: Shang-Chi vol. 1: Brothers & Sisters
Profile Image for Faith.
1,822 reviews499 followers
July 8, 2021
This novella is set in the Rivers of London world, but the protagonist is Peter Grant’s teenaged niece Abigail. Peter is missing from this book, but his boss Nightingale makes a few brief appearances. This book won’t really make sense to you if you haven’t read at least the first Rivers of London books. Here, Abigail and a group of talking foxes try to solve the mystery of children who go missing and return with no memories of where they have been.

I don’t know whether the author is planning on writing a spin off series aimed at children, but I am definitely not the right audience for this. I was too old for it when I was 10. Perhaps if you are totally obsessed with the Rivers of London series you might enjoy this book more than I did. I think at this point I am just sticking with the series because I love Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s narration of the audiobooks. He reads a couple of footnotes in this book, but that wasn’t enough for me and his character was not Peter Grant. Disappointing. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,910 followers
September 2, 2021
Well now, it finally happened. I’ve been a big fan of Aaronovitch’s UF series for a while now but I haven’t been all that fond of the short stories. They were bite sized, even experimental or quirky, but they didn’t have all that much heft to them.

THIS ONE, however, while being longer as a novella, hit all the right sweet spots of his full novels while still being an interesting one-off.

Abigail is AWESOME.

I think she’s all kinds of rocking and a very fine addition to any policeman team in the future. :)

Profile Image for Sara.
1,057 reviews353 followers
September 19, 2022
I really liked this little divergent from the main Peter Grant series, which follows his cousin Abigail on one fateful summer adventure. There's talking foxes, missing children and one strange house oozing magic. Abigail has always been an interesting character, but with a fleshed out backstory and some new sidekicks she really flourishes. She's a lot like Peter, inquisitive and clever, but she's also that little bit more guarded. More interested in the 'little people', those forgotten or left behind. And as a result Abigail's story is a lot more appealing than the later Peter Grant books uve been reading, which feel a little stagnant.

I hope there's more Abigail novellas to come.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,005 reviews2,597 followers
March 22, 2021
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSantum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/03/21/...

The Rivers of London series has been graced with many incredible supporting characters, but none have been as compelling as Abigail Kamara, Peter Grant’s feisty teenage cousin who has been making a name for herself as a young practitioner-in-training and doing some of her own detective work on the side. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out she was getting her own story in What Abigail Did That Summer, a novella set concurrently to the fifth book in the main series, Foxglove Summer, in which Peter finds himself in Herefordshire investigating the disappearance of some local kids and getting himself entangled in whacky unicorn magic. Meanwhile though, Abigail was back in London, working on a different sort of missing children case…

It is the summer of 2013 and school has just been let out, leaving Abigail with too much time and freedom on her hands. As it happens, an old friend of hers named Natali had suddenly reappeared in her life with an invitation to a “happening”, but when it came time to meet, the other girl is nowhere to be found. Instead, while waiting in the park, she chances upon a boy around her age named Simon, who had come to the same place because he too had been invited by a girl named Jessica, also a no-show. Before long, both Natali and Jessica are appearing on missing posters and the police are asking Abigail and Simon some uncomfortable questions. Though the girls eventually turned up safe and sound and the police investigation was dropped, Abigail senses magical involvement and isn’t content to put it all behind her just yet.

In the meantime, she and Simon have struck up a comfortable friendship, and when he decides to tag along on some of her reconnaissance work, she could hardly say no. Of course, that meant having to introduce him to her other helpers, a troop of clever talking foxes who have come to take a keen interest in our protagonist and her activities.

While What Abigail Did That Summer is technically a novella, it is a hefty one at more than two hundred pages, allowing for plenty of character and story development. As such, while I typically shy away from short fiction, this one was long enough to satisfy my addiction to the Rivers of London books, even though Peter Grant is not in it at all. Still, that’s a good thing—this is Abigail’s story and hers alone, and I loved that we got to be in her head the entire time, experiencing her life, seeing her world through her eyes. In fact, there is hardly any influence from anyone from the main series at all, save for Thomas Nightingale, and that’s only for a few scenes at the end, as well as fleeting comments from the Folly archivist in the form of footnotes explaining some of Abigail’s more slangish vernacular.

But for all that it takes us away from what we’re used to, there’s a lot here that also feels familiar, leaving no doubt this is part of the Rivers of London universe and under the scope of the Folly. It’s true however that we see things through a “younger” lens, Abigail’s POV being limited to what she knows, the people and places she can access. While important side characters are mainly limited to other teens and foxes, I wouldn’t really classify this as strictly YA either, as I imagine it has tons of crossover appeal. We get to learn a lot more about Abigail’s home life, which isn’t exactly hunky-dory, but simply knowing what goes on behind the scenes makes her feel more real to us, defining her character as more than just “Peter’s cousin.” I also adored the talking foxes, especially Indigo, and I’m glad they played such a significant role in the story.

I don’t have any major criticisms, but thought I’d mention this because I found I experienced something similar with The October Man, another Rivers of London novella written from the POV of someone other than Peter, yet whose voice still sounds a lot like Peter. All of Ben Aaronovitch’s protagonists just seem to sound the same to me. To be fair, Abigail’s voice left no doubt we were following a teenage girl, but many of her descriptive patterns and her overall narrative style fit Peter’s to a tee. The author probably isn’t used to writing from another, non-Peter Grant character’s perspective, and it definitely shows.

Still, overall, What Abigail Did That Summer was an entertaining novella, and I had a blast. I’m also intrigued with the way it ended, leaving things wide open for possibly more adventures starring Abigail and her foxy friends. Hopefully, Aaronovitch will explore this avenue, because as much as I enjoy the Rivers of London novels, I’m also having a lot of fun with these “side jaunts” with other characters. They certainly add a bit of fascination and variety to the world of the Folly, and if you’re a fan of the main series, you’ll not want to miss this.
Profile Image for Linden.
1,444 reviews1 follower
February 9, 2021
I've enjoyed all of the Rivers of London books, and when I saw the title, I thought the author was maybe starting a YA series highlighting Abigail, a young teen who is learning about magic. But any reader new to the series would receive no explanation of the back story of Abigail's history with the Folly and Peter Grant. The novel was really a hodgepodge, and while I liked the talking foxes, I found myself bored and confused with much of the plot, vaguely wondering what the author might have been smoking. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
416 reviews170 followers
October 23, 2021
3.5 stars. I had no business reading this one as my introduction to the Rivers of London series, but I enjoyed it. Abigail is a sharp-edged and engaging 13-year-old, and the talking foxes are, well, talking foxes who run serious missions but also get distracted by trampolines and cheese puffs. I loved the origin story of how animals lost their ability to talk except for humans - geez, we are such assholes. (I always come to this conclusion.) I like the way adults in here are not monolithic and Abigail has respect for the ones who do things to deserve it. And the reason why teens keep disappearing? Very creepy indeed.

The writing is snappy and brisk, and this bit made me laugh even though it probably wasn't supposed to:
I have a sudden image of myself being dug out of the wall in twenty years' time as an inexplicable cold case. Obviously she was trapped in the dumbwaiter, the investigator would say, but where did the fox come from?

Or would Indigo eat me?

There's definitely background info that I missed about the Folly and the Feds, but I had a good time regardless with this book. It's written to feel slightly-older-than-middle-grade but not full on angsty YA, which feels about right given the age of its protagonist.

Off to try to find the first boook in the series now!
Profile Image for David Harris.
856 reviews28 followers
March 20, 2021
Fitting into the Rivers of London chronology in parallel with Foxglove Summer, which took Peter Grant out of London to support Herefordshire Police with a supernatural case (or "weird b******s" as it's described by his mundane colleagues), What Abigail Did That Summer tells us what was happening on Hampstead Heath and particularly, what part his young cousin, Abigail Kamara, played in it.

Abigail, you may recall, wants to learn magic (this book explains why she she is so keen - I can see trouble down the line there) and is therefore studying Latin. She has featured before in both the Rivers books and comics, which have stressed her affinity for the talking foxes who live on the Heath. Here we learn more about them (mainly, what a puzzle they - I can see trouble down the line there, too).

It's summer, Abigail is out of school and a bit bored, with time on her hands. She's also observant (partly through Peter's influence, perhaps, although I suspect mainly not), extremely bright and, of course, aware of the magical world. If anyone is going to spot the magical background to the disappearances (and reappearances) of kids on the Heath, it's going to be her. And of course she's going to want to investigate...

What follows is, I'd say, one of the lighter of the Rivers books. Like them, we learn a lot about a particular part of the city - this time, the Heath - and its relation to the Rivers. Like them, the protagonist is thoroughly at home on her own turf (or as Abigail calls it, her "ends" - the book is peppered with London youth slang - 'Simon's mum is Fed-adjacent in some way' which is helpfully footnoted where needed). Both Peter and Abigail are Londoners born and bred, in turn with the sounds and smells of the city and aware at once when something is a bit... off. ('You don't grow up small, mouthy and mixed race in North London without picking up a few tricks'). Whether you call that magic or not, it always gives them a head start in getting to the bottom of things. In tune with that, Aaronovitch is always at his best when describing the physical or the social geography of London: how the house prices one side of a street are higher than this on the other, the particular whiteness of a given social setting, where a river was paved over to make streets, the history of the bathing ponds on Hampstead Heath. Not only describing, but building his story on it.

So when Abigail stumbles into a perfect 1970s dinner party out of time (yes, an Abigail's party, what else?) the setting is perfect not only down to contemporary events - the 3 day week, the miners, Vietnam - but to the minutiae of social strata that the past layers on the present. (Or is it the other way round?) Just as he is with the interaction between lower class, mixed race Abigail and strikingly wealthy (for a supposedly mid ranking civil servant, she's a Grade 7 for goodness sake) Simon's mum, mentioned earlier. (I don't think she would be able to afford that house, there's something that is, as Abigail might say, definitely dodge there).

All of this is really me trying to say that the world Aaronovitch creates here is so rich, so well done, that you're almost at risk of getting distracted form the plot, so please do pay attention, because - while I'm obviously not going to say a great deal about what happens: spoilers! - it is a clever and twisted thing that has Abigail running in circles and having to bargain, bribe and promise here way through London's demi-monde (as it's called here: a magical substrate to the city, not a society of artists and courtesans). I think some of those deals and exchanges she makes may, also, be storing up trouble ahead...

In all, another EXCELLENT contribution to this series and a book I basically consumed at one sitting - because why stop when the writing's as good as 'I use a fountain pen because it's like writing on money' or 'an ornamental knocker that looks like it should have the face of a dead banker but doesn't'? Or when Aaronovitch is riffing off Douglas Adams ('it's radiating happiness in exactly the way a clown doesn't') or doing bitter humour ('Nobody ever accused me of being good at happy')?

No, there's no sense in stopping for a moment, or delaying reading this. I should aapologise to the book I was meant to be reading when What Abigail Did That Summer came along, mugged me for my attention, and loudly monopolised my reading time. But, do you know - I'm not sorry AT ALL.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,875 reviews3,382 followers
September 2, 2021

Abigail Kamara, neighbour of Peter Grant's parents and Peter's cousin, is finally getting her own story! It takes place while Peter is out of town and involves - interestingly enough - a case of missing children (just like Peter's case at Herefordshire).
It's the summer and school is out. Abigail is out and about having fun and enjoying the weather while also looking for magical anomalies. She is aided by a boy named Simon and, most importantly, talking foxes! Which is just as well since suddenly there really is a magical incident involving ... possessions?

Whatever it is, the way the story was told (Abigail giving a statement at a police station with occasional footnotes to the transcript from our favorite librarian at the Bodleian Library) was intriguing.

Moreover, I love that Abigail doesn't just learn from Nightingale and his library at the Folly but from the foxes, too. This way, she and us readers got lots of stories from the foxes' point of view (like how everyone lost their voices and that it's classified how the foxes got theirs back *lol*).

I seriously love the voice Aaronovitch has given Abigail. She's a typical teenager which makes for a breath of fresh air compared to everything about the Folly. It's a useful and necessary bridge between not only old and young but also between the locked-away magic and the more loose kind that seems to be spreading again anyway. Which means that the adults can learn from Abigail, too. Not to mention how heart-warming it was to see Abigail and Nightingale interact and how the old chap cares for the girl.

A wonderful adventure that has me craving more from Abigail's point of view. Also, I definitely want my very own Indigo!
Profile Image for Andrew.
2,150 reviews
March 22, 2021
I will start by saying that I have a great love for the Rivers of London series so always await the release of the next instalment like a small boy waiting for Christmas morning. So you can imagine the eagerness I had in getting my hands of this latest release.

Like a number of the other novellas this takes a slightly different approach to the main books - in that it focuses on one of the lesser characters - this time Abigail who was introduced early in the series and has appeared throughout the series in supporting roles.

However this time she is most certainly front and centre. So why dropping a star - for I can see that the author has tried to give Abigail a distinctive presence in this case part of that is her "voice" and turn of speech. Now I have no idea who young girls think and talk but I did find it confusing and disorientating at times and use of language at times did confound me (yes I am an old fart but I am reading this book for me).

However the fact we have another strong character who clearly is being set up for potential adventures of her own only goes to show the possibilities of where these books and the whole universe could go. So even though I may have struggled slightly I think the results were worth it.

Profile Image for Ian.
382 reviews59 followers
September 27, 2021
A fair addition to the Rivers of London series of magical mysteries, this one is centred on Abigail, the precocious teenaged cousin of detective/wizard Peter Grant. Kids are disappearing around the Hampstead section of London and Abigail and her new friend Simon are swept up in what soon becomes clear is something sinister and supernatural. Not a wickedly brilliant addition to the series but entertaining enough, with sufficient fan favorites to keep dedicated followers more than happy: talking foxes, river spirits, the fae, the Nightingale and of course, Abigail herself.
With this story it almost seems like Aaronovitch may be trying to create a YA branch within his series, which would be a clever move, business-wise. At the moment it's too entangled with the main series but it will be interesting to see if the author takes the character in a more independent direction.
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,597 reviews238 followers
February 9, 2023
Novella told in Abigail‘s voice, which is pretty entertaining. I have the ebook, but normally this series is an instabuy as audiobook, because the usual narrator rocks. This audio is told by a woman (makes sense) who sounds just as much fun in the audio sample.

If you don‘t know the series, go away and start with the first book!

It was good. No Peter, some Nightingale, lots of foxes. Those were great. I liked the build-up to the main plot thingie more than the main event. Fairly simple plot, straight forward story. Good for fans of the series, not essential reading.

Rivers of London #5.3, set between Foxglove Summer and The Hanging Tree.
Profile Image for Emily.
1,713 reviews37 followers
June 30, 2021
Did most of this on audio, and Shvorne Marks did a wonderful job narrating as Abigail. I loved getting a story from her point of view, especially the scenes with Nightingale (which are always fewer than I want). The footnotes, narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith were a nice touch, and Indigo and the other talking foxes were good comic relief.

I was confused about Simon, though, how Marks did his voice like he was a little kid, and after Abigail’s talk with his mom at the end, I had to search back through my e-book copy to find out what she was talking about. I guess there were a few sentences supporting what she said, but I’m still a little confused about what exactly his deal is.

I didn’t really enjoy the stretch in the house, which was initially confusing on audio and then felt like it went on too long. I’m not sure why I disliked that part so much, but I found myself bored with it, kind of angrily bored.

Worth reading, though, and I think it will probably be important for future stories or novels.
Profile Image for Bogi Zweiundvierzich.
108 reviews5 followers
July 31, 2022
Ghost hunter, fox whisperer, troublemaker - and storyteller.

Abigail leads us through another story of magical London, and her voice is refreshing. But she's also young, and Ben has done a lot of trying to separate her from Peter in writing style. She differs from Peter's voice, because ... language.

It's a nice change, but I'm happy to return to Peter. I think his style is more of my style.

But the foxes were really, really great, and I loved them all. I hope Indigo and Co will be returning to this series, I really do.

For fans of the series - go for it.
If you've never read Rivers of London before, take up the main works first. You won't understand a lot of stuff if you're not familiar with the setting.
Profile Image for Hank.
779 reviews74 followers
September 29, 2021
Loved all of it but I am sort of biased that way. I do like the new branch/direction that Rivers of London could be heading.
Profile Image for Helen.
257 reviews9 followers
April 12, 2021
I really like the novellas from the River of London series and Abigail is a fascinating character. These shorter stories do not lack in interesting cases and it is a great way of getting to know different (side) characters and learning more about the magic system. What Abigail Did That Summer was engaging and a tiny bit creepy (like a good Doctor Who episode). Also, the cover is georgous and the foxes are the most fun of animal companions.
I think, this is my favourite of the novellas.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,393 reviews823 followers
June 5, 2021
This was quite expensive for a novella but as Aaronovich works his magic, so my concept of value for money improves! Great story where we got to know Abigail much better- great character. Indigo was the star of the show, though!
Profile Image for Andy.
1,130 reviews71 followers
June 30, 2022
"Im Haus" wurde es mir zu langweilig.
Profile Image for Lorena.
1,003 reviews178 followers
February 26, 2021
Book 9 in the Rivers of London series is only the second told from the perspective of a character other than Peter Grant (although I supposed The October Man was technically book 7.5...I'm not sure if this will end up officially 9, or as 8.5). In this case, our narrator/main character is Abigail, Peter's teenaged cousin with a not terribly happy home life, sometime sort-of apprentice at The Folly, and beloved of London's Talking Foxes. While Peter is out of town on a not-yet known case, Abigail takes on the mysterious disappearances of some local teenagers on her own (or, at least, without much human help - the Foxes are on the case). The result is a bit of a different feel than the books narrated in Peter's voice, for obvious reasons. I do enjoy the Peter books the most so far, but this was an interesting look at the world through another set of eyes, and the Foxes really are the best, I would really like to see a crossover between these Foxes and Seanan McGuire's Aeslin Mice, but I fear it could go poorly for the mice, and we can't have that...
532 reviews4 followers
March 18, 2021
What a delightful and excellent addition. <3 Abigail is the fucking best.
Profile Image for Julie Davis.
Author 4 books264 followers
March 1, 2023
This time through I listened to the excellent audiobook narration which I enjoyed so much that I went looking for other books from that narrator. Listening made the book move more smoothly and I didn't find the ghost stories as repetitive as I did the first time around.


I enjoyed this novella a lot except for a bit in the middle that seemed interminable. I think the author was in love with his many examples and so we got way too many of them. However, it did serve the purpose of sharing Abigail's frustration, weariness, and worry about being trapped. So there's that.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it overall. Only for those as deeply immersed in the series as I am. Beginners need to start at the beginning, of course! :-)
Profile Image for Hobart.
2,281 reviews57 followers
March 5, 2021
★ ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up)
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
I almost feel like I need to go back and do a lot of re-reading before writing much about this book. I'd have thought that Abigail's involvement with the Folly and Peter wasn't this developed until later in the series.

Also, I know there's a connection between Abigail and the talking foxes, but I don't remember exactly when it comes about and how much of this book is Aaronovich filling in the backstory that he just breezes past in one of the novels.

I didn't feel at a loss for context while reading the book, but I tell you what, I'm feeling it as I try to talk about the novella. So, I guess I'm saying, be nice and forgive any lapses in what's to come:

This novella is set during the events of Foxglove Summer and Peter's not in London. But never fear, Abigail does talk to Nightingale a couple of times.

Abigail has a strange interaction with someone she used to know and sees someone else acting slightly strangely. She starts, not really investigating, but taking a close look around at everything. Then when the police start asking questions of kids in the park, showing pictures of those same people, she knows something's up.

Not that she tells the police that, because they're not going to believe her. She's told that these children (and others) have gone missing, but then reappear at home, with fuzzy memories of the last couple of days. If Abigail, she thinks, with the help of some of the local talking foxes, can figure out what's going on, she can point Nightingale in the right direction—which might help convince him that she's ready for training.

But mostly, Abigail's curious about what's happening and has to figure it out.

Abigail's first-person account is littered with footnotes by the Folly's archivist, Harold Postmartin. Largely, these footnotes are to explain some of the more slang-y terms Abigail uses (although sometimes it's a more technical note). He seems to go to great lengths to make sure that American readers can get what she's saying. I halfway wonder if in UK editions those notes have differences.

I think I could've worked out the terms I wasn't already familiar with, but the footnotes were entertaining enough that it doesn't matter if I could've. This was a better way to deal with it.

This is absolutely a Folly-story, one that belongs in this series, but there's no way that Peter Grant was the right character to use for this story, Aaronovich needed to use someone like Abigail to tell this, conveniently enough, there she was. She has a different way of thinking than Peter—and while there's humor to her narration, it's not the same as Peter's (even if it's occasionally similar). Seeing things from her perspective, it's a great way to see how she's similar to her cousin, while very much being her own person.

Frequently, with novellas, I walk away wondering why couldn't we get a full novel out of it? This isn't one of those times—the story is as long as it needs to be—it's complex and satisfying. Also, we get a lot of development out of Abigail and get a better degree of understanding of her than we've had before.

That said, there are just so many things I want to know more about, but just making this novel-length wouldn't take care of it. For example, we learn right off the bat that there's something...different...about Simon's mom—and Aaronovich teases us with a couple of more things. I want more of this. I want to know just what it is that Abigail's doing for her. I want more adventures with Abigail and the foxes.

I've always wanted to see more Abigail in the novels—this underscores that for me.

In short, this was a fun story—a strange one at times, but fun—that makes me more curious about a character I already enjoyed, but now I want more of her—both on her own (like this) or in the main novels. I had a similar reaction to the novella The October Man, too. Although that probably is my reaction to anything in this universe (at least so far)—"I enjoyed that, can I have more like it?"

This would be an interesting jumping-on point for the whole series—I'm not sure I'd recommend it, but it might be enough to convince you to dive into the rest.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Subterranean Press via NetGalley in exchange for this post—thanks to both for this.
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