This new novella in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch covers events that happened in summer 2013 when his primary protagonist Peter Grant was off solving the case of a missing child in Herefordshire (The Hanging Tree). During that summer we follow Peter’s cousin Abigail Kamara in London as teenagers go missing around Hampstead Heath and then turn up later missing their memories.
At this point Abigail is still not formally attached to “The Folly”, but she has already been exposed to the world of magic. She’s friends with the talking fox population of London, knows about the River Goddesses, and is learning latin so she can study with Peter and Nightingale. She is also smart but has that teenage belief in her own invincibility to get herself into a lot of trouble and that’s what happens here.
When the foxes ask her to investigate she becomes entangled with a boy of her age who struggles academically but has a great imagination and is fearless. When he becomes trapped by the antagonist (a Genius Loci – a place – rather than a person) Abigail steps up to get him and the other victims back. She’s given some tactical support by the boy’s mother who is implied to be a senior intelligence operative with an interest in Abigail’s connection to The Folly, but Abigail chooses to go alone.
It was great to get yet another perspective and Abigail is a fascinating character, she’s rooted in London teen culture, has a tough homelife with a seriously ill brother (why she’s interested in magic – she wants to cure him), but also a strong sense of justice. Her actions put her at huge risk and there’s a scene I’d love to see from the other side – she calls Nightingale and tells him what she’s about to do, during the call he’s already heading to his car and breaking many laws to get across London to her and then deals with his anxiety by exploding stuff.
It’s definitely not a starting point for the Rivers series, but obviously a must read if you already love the characters, and I’m really enjoying seeing the expansion of the world over time as the masquerade hiding magic begins to fail.