Saturday, 13 December 2014

Book #46 Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

Foxglove Summer

Reviewing this book is making me super unhappy, because I liked it and really like The Folly series and The Folly concept, but I have to sum up the book and be clear about the flaws I felt as I read.

This is the 5th book thus far of the "PC Grant adventure series" (trainee magician policeman investigates crimes that have supernatural elements) it is a good episode that I ultimately feel like enjoyed, but I enjoyed it with reservation, with qualms and criticism.

Two girls have gone missing from a small country town, Peter Grant realises it's not a human kidnap, but what has taken them and why??

Firstly Aaronovitch references Soham quite early on. Openly acknowledging the similarity in the initial disappearance here does not make it any the more tasteful. That it begins with such a strikingly similar circumstance and is a fanciful story involving fairies, unicorns, and changelings just compounds the issue.

So, that's one problem, it's in poor taste.

Moving on, the second novel in this series, Moon Over Soho introduced us to the "Ethically Challenged Magician" who has barely been seen since, Book 4, Broken Homes, introduced a second mysterious bad guy "Faceless Man" who does not feature in Book 5.

In an ongoing TV series, if it was an Episode Of The Week kind of thing, this might work because the overall arc would play itself out quite quickly. In a novel series, it doesn't really work, and feels like plot threads, and by extension readers,  are just left hanging in mid-air without resolution. Foxglove Summer is like an Episode Of The Week in novel form, which doesn't much acknowledge or have any continuity from what has gone before.

Peter receives a message to say he has about a year before "it all kicks off" which, given the way the current timeline of Folly books works means about 12 more stories before we get to grips with who these bad guys are.

Dare I say it but is Ben Aaronovitch, a screenwriter beginning to write these novels with an overt eye to adaptation because the way these last 4 books have been written would work if these stories were being televised and continued on a weekly and not an annual basis, I can't quite detail why that is without spoiling both this novel and the series previous installments. 

As things stand the lack of plot continuity from installment to installment is a massive frustration as a reader. However, I will be continuing with this series because as I've said previously, I like the concept and the characters. But it's not a fantasy novel series, it's exactly as if someone took Doctor Who and made each 40 minute episode a novel, there's a semblance of an ongoing thread like "What's Bad Wolf?" or "Who's that Missy then?" but not every episode moves the overall arc onwards.

And it's annoying. The lack of Nightingale was annoying too.


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