Saturday, November 22, 2014

THE BOOK REVIEW: Foxglove Summer || Ben Aaronovitch ||

British Police Constable, apprenticed wizard and native Londonder Peter Grant finds himself out of his depth and well beyond his regional comfort zone when he’s shipped off to the countryside to help with the strange case of two missing children.

Foxglove Summer is the fifth book in Doctor Who writer Ben Aaronovitch’s ‘Rivers of London’ or ‘PC Peter Grant’ series. I started reading these books in December/January last year on the recommendation of Youtuber and Blogger Tanya Burr and have since loved them. I popped into Dymocks the other day after discovering that Foxglove Summer was FINALLY out and snapped myself up a copy. I also grabbed a short book of Bhutanese proverbs, but that’s another story.

The Rivers of London series is the kind of addictive, adventurous series one can never think of enough adjectives to describe. They’re witty, the voice of protagonist Peter Grant is brilliantly personable with its constant pop-culture references and dry humour, and the plot just keeps on thickening!

I remember Burr describing these books as ‘Harry Potter for adults’ and after I read the first (and then read it again and again over the three weeks it took for Moon Over Soho – the second book – to arrive on my doorstep) I agreed. The combination of wizardry, iconic English scenery, police constabulary and working-class wit and grit is absolutely ideal. I can never help stifling a little chuckle when Grant takes a stab at the bureaucratic nature of our times, or the clingy desperation of the press (Daily Mail and FOX included). It’s a very switched-on read that would appeal whole heartedly to those of us who love a bit of magic and mystery but also take the time to read the paper and then consequently slam it down in disgust at the sensationalist nature of the thing.

Rivers of London, Moon Over Soho, Whispers Underground and Broken Homes set the stage nicely for Peter Grant, the extraordinary ‘Oh Sorry, Was That Your Tiger Tank?’ Thomas Nightingale, Toby the Dog and creepy housemaid Molly’s misadventures as they’ve faced down everything from rogue wizards to goblins to goddesses created from the local scenery (aka: Mama and Father Thames and their multiple offspring – or would the proper terminology be tributaries? What’s the PC here?). Foxglove Summer is where the ante is upped: Secrets begin to pile up around Grant and his curiosity and ethical nature begin to intertwine creating new webs of magic and trickery as well as what appears to be a constantly intensifying resurgence of magic in Great Britain – creating all the more trouble for a copper who is part of the one, poorly manned, outpost the Metropolitan Police has equipped to deal with what is described by most Detective Chief Inspectors as, ‘creepy shit’.

I’ve really enjoyed every single one of the PC Grant books, so much so that I’ve actually read all of them at least twice and finished most the day I cracked the spine because they are just THAT addictive. I think this series would make an excellent Christmas gift to anyone who enjoys a good bit of mystery or magical realism, anyone who loved Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings and needs a decent summer read. I also think you could stretch this book series from say, sixteen year olds to ‘adults’ as they’re entertaining and on the money where popular culture is concerned.

On a slightly different note, I really need Mr Aaronovitch to please write a little bit faster because I’m on my second run-through of Foxglove Summer and I’m having ‘new PC Grant’ withdrawals already. It’s already a Daily Mail bestseller, but I think in a few years (or less) it’ll be a front runner for an NYT Bestseller or something just as big. I also can’t wait for the films. They’ll make a film right?

You can purchase the PC Grant series here, and check out the website HERE.