I know, I know, I’m not starting at the beginning. I wrote about the first book in this series a ways back on another site. I love the series and this book dovetails nicely with my previous post about diversity in media.
First, let me give you an elevator pitch for the Rivers of London series. It is Harry Potter meets Law and Order with a splash of Tina Fey humor to lighten the mood. The main character is Peter Grant, a police constable in London who happens to be the first apprentice wizard on the force in sixty years.
Foxglove Summer takes our intrepid constable and puts him into an environment that is outside of his comfort zone, the country. Two eleven year-old girls have went missing. The nation is abuzz with the search to find them and Peter’s boss, Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale, sends him off to lend a hand in the investigation. What should be a straight forward investigation of a missing person turns into a full-blown magical mystery with all the problems that this entails.
Aaronovitch does an excellent job of pacing and characterization in this book. He sets up the reader with the expectation that the longer a search goes on that less likely that the outcome of the search is going to be positive. He then shows thew reader the unfolding mystery that is hiding behind this simple missing persons case that ratchets up the tension. He deftly uses humor throughout to keep the tension from becoming oppressive though pointing out the absurd aspects of the job of policing or being a wizard and a constable. We get learn more about Peter as he maneuvers an unfamiliar hierarchy in a setting that is not his cup of tea. The culmination of the mystery reveals a part of his character that I was hoping for and should have ripple effects in future books.
The thing that is important to me about the series and this book in particular, is the diversity presented. Our main character, Peter Grant, is a multiracial character. He is also the child of an immigrant parent. Aaronivich doesn’t shy away from dealing with the discrimination that Peter has faced. In Foxglove Summer, there is a scene where it is apparent that there are those that bare him ill-will due to the color of his skin. The reader is given some insight what it must be like to face this type of behavior and the choices that one has to make. On top of this, this book presents the reader with a male constable that is helping Peter as having a boyfriend. It handles it as nonchalantly as discussing any other significant other. There is even a conversation between Peter and the constable about whether they were going to get married. It was so refreshing to find this character here and have him not be treated as a stereotype which is an all to frequent occurrence in urban fantasy. It felt good to see it being treated as normal.
I love the Rivers of London series. The combination of magic and police procedural makes it fun and the characters and their diverse world make it awesome. Foxglove Summer is an excellent addition to the series and I can not wait for the next installment.