What Abigail Did That Summer (A Rivers Of London novella) by Ben Aaronovitch (book review).

‘What Abigail Did That Summer is set’ in 2013.The Sorcerer’s potential apprentice has been left in the city whilst Peter Grant is off in the countryside somewhere or away with the fairies as we used to say (see ‘Foxglove Summer’ for that full story). Abigail is an intelligent girl and she’s not going to sit around tweeting when there is serious work to be done as she’s going to have an adventure of her own.

Young teenager Abigail Kamara certainly has the gift and when she’s not seeing dead people and knows what will make a fox talk. This is her standalone adventure but it sits in the series of novels and adds a little more to her story and the story of London and its rivers. This is about making a new friend, how people live different lives and also how she will make a great wizard.

Abigail meets Simon when they’ve both been invited to a happening on Hampstead Heath. The inviters are a no show and prove to be missing. They hit it off as friends almost immediately. Abigail is an astute observer of people and she ‘gets’ Simon. Piqued by the events, both of them decide to investigate but this is no ‘Famous Five’ adventure. It gets serious once the foxes are on the case.

It’s a good story and, despite being just short of 200 pages, it feels epic in its intent. This is very much about Abigail learning on the job and showing a flair for using her age and social situation to solve a mystery. She has a little help along the way but she is a problem solver and has an awareness of magic and a thirst for knowledge. Many of the elements of the ‘Peter Grant’ novels are included here but it does feel like a jumping in point where you can then choose to read the series from the start. It’s full of humour, too, which evolves naturally from Abigail’s attitude and how the world reacts to her.

A little mention to for the effort made with this small hardback. It has some lovely cover art and the map of the heath with annotations is beautifully drawn by Stephen Walter with lettering design by Patrick Knowles.

This is a great adventure and I love all the nuggets about London that incorporate the deep dark history. The history lesson is only part of an adventure where we get to know Peter Grant’s annoying teenage cousin a little better and I look forward to when she is allowed out again.

Sue Davies

March 2021

(pub: Gollancz. 196 page small hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-473-22434-6)

check out websites: www.gollancz.co.uk and www.benaaronvitch.com

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