Imagine my delight when Tales from the Folly popped up on Scribd! I devoured the series earlier this year -aside from the latest; I am waiting for the paperback release- and when I saw kittenkong42’s review back in October I was PSYCHED to know that the short stories had all been collected into one place! There have been a few times in the “main story line” that events from short stories and the graphic novels have been alluded to, and while I didn’t find the “missing” information detrimental, I was curious about quite a few references! Not curious enough to buy individual stories and novellas, mind you.
I am glad that I did not seek out the individual stories, as I would have given up after the first two presented in Tales from the Folly! Aaronovitch is up-front with the nature of these stories; each begins with an introduction explaining why they were written and for what purpose. There was a paying assignment, and he wanted to get paid! I do not begrudge a working author their wage, but some of these tales read like mandatory essay questions from the back of an aptitude exam. What did you learn and what do you remember? There are a few pages dedicated to the 2012 London Olympics, a few for a specific branch of a bookstore, and one for a celebration of the British Library. They are light, short, and all together empty.
A few of the other stories fared better; there is a great look into Abigail’s home life wrapped around A Christmas Carol references, there’s a Canal spirit that goes up against the River Sisters, and a weird little one-off in the Swingin’ Sixties. Unfortunately, the collection ends with what Aaronovitch calls “Moments”; they are tiny character sketches that, while they may give a bit of insight into some fan favorites, are really just rough drafts that were not ready to see the light of day- going back to my exam analogy, it feels like when you pad a research paper with excessive quotes in order to hit the mandatory page count.
The Furthest Station is a full novella set in and around the Underground, meaning that our old friend Jaget is back in his high-res vest! Instead of underground civilizations in the tunnels, this time we have ghosts assaulting commuters on the train. Abigail holds court in this story, and I am looking forward to seeing her continue to grow into her own character! She is rapidly accelerating from “plucky kid sidekick” into magical Harriet the Spy; I would love her to have her own spinoff series!
The October Man is a change-up; while a few stories have been narrated by other characters (some known, some unknown), this novella covers a case with the magical branch of the German police! Ancient gods are possibly teaming up with winemakers for murder and mayhem, and Tobias Winter is on the case. We know from the series that magical relations fell spectacularly apart during WWII, what with Nazi’s weaponizing the paranormal, but now we get to see the teams that are left to pick up the pieces while continuing to clean up past atrocities. I am sure that Britain and Germany will soon team up in the Rivers universe, and I am very much looking forward to the clash of manners and magic.
Tales from The Folly: 2.5 rounded up to 3 for Abigail’s story
The Furthest Station: Solid 3- and what do you know, more Abigail!
The October Man: 3.5 rounded up to 4 for a fun change of pace