Adrienne Martini Reviews What Abigail Did That Summer by Ben Aarono­vitch

What Abigail Did That Summer, Ben Aarono­vitch (Subterranean Press 978-1-64524-029-7, $40.00, 232pp, hc) March 2021.

Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London uni­verse keeps sending new rivulets in unex­pected directions. The series, which started with a relatively straightforward novel about Peter Grant, a London police officer who finds himself confronted with magic, has branched into a comic book series, an audiobook, a handful of short sto­ries, and seven more novels. The most recent Peter Grant book, False Value, was perfectly fine, if a little bit lacking in some ineffable zazz. But even a perfectly fine Aaronovitch is still a good read.

What Abigail Did That Summer, a shorter work set during the events of Foxglove Summer, shifts focus to Abigail, Grant’s teenage cousin. Grant and his mentor Nightingale are teaching her about the demimonde they patrol, not because they need an apprentice, but because it’s a way to keep her out of trouble. Abigail is smart and curi­ous, a wonderful combination but one that also puts her in peril.

Of course, this story does just that. There’s weird bollocks going on in Hampstead Heath. Teenagers are disappearing and Abigail is the only one who can figure out why – which she does, of course. But that’s not why this stand-alone story is so satisfying. Not only does Aaronovitch’s writing bring Abigail fully to life, it also builds a story that is worthy of her and delivers potent insights about being a teenage girl, which is doubly remarkable because it’s not a perspective you often see out­side YA fiction, and Aaronovitch does not seem to be writing from lived experience. I hope these tributaries keeping feeding new life to this world.

Adrienne Martini has been reading or writing about science fiction for decades and has had two non-fiction, non-genre books published by Simon and Schuster. She lives in Upstate New York with one husband, two kids, and one corgi. She also runs a lot.

This review and more like it in the April 2021 issue of Locus.

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