Book Review: “What Abigail Did That Summer” by Ben Aaronovitch

Posted March 22, 2021 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: “What Abigail Did That Summer” by Ben Aaronovitch

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

"What Abigail Did That Summer" by Ben Aaronovitch
Genres: Police Procedural, Urban Fantasy, YA
on March 18, 2021
Pages: 208
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Midnight Riot, Whispers Under Ground, Broken Homes, The Hanging Tree, "The Furthest Station", Lies Sleeping, False Value

A short story, 5.3 in the Rivers of London urban fantasy and police procedural series, revolving around Police Constable Peter Grant, although the focus is on his cousin, Abigail Kamara, in this story, a good one for adults and young adults.

My Take

That Abigail is a crack-up and quite snarky. She’s definitely “teaching” me the slang that kids are using as well. We also learn quite a lot about what Abigail has learned from Peter about police procedures…and her take on them. Okay, she also riffs on how stupid kids can be.

We know this…and so much more…through first person dual protagonist point-of-view. Okay, okay, so Abigail is both POVs, but it’s definitely dual because she’s not herself in parts of this.

Hmm, the foxes have their own take on silly humans, lol. I certainly did enjoy how Aaronovitch depicts the foxes having fun, being scared, their take on spying, and the fear they have for…certain…dogs.

The story starts with a future event that slides into the backstory when Abigail meets Simon. Then the story slides even further back in time, as Abigail experiences all this history of assorted people. Then we slide back to the beginning.

It was confusing with Abigail saying Fed all the time. My initial thought was always FBI or CIA.

There’s a good bit in here about how everything on earth used to talk and why they no longer do. Although, it seems that foxes still have the ability to talk to humans. And why humans no longer have fur, claws, tails, or wisdom.

“What Abigail Did That Summer” is a combination of character and action with history a huge part of it. A quite confusing ghostly history about different families. Don’t try to make sense of it; just go with the flow.

While I did enjoy Abigail’s snark, I really loved that ending, which Aaronovitch uses to promote Abigail’s ongoing series arc. She’ll be fun to watch.

The Story

Kids are going missing. Peter is out of town on a job. And Abigail does not want to involve Nightingale…because he’d not let her have any fun.

It’s a scary kind of fun from which there might not be an escape.

The Characters

The fifteen-year-old Abigail Kamara is Peter’s cousin, attends Acland Burghley, and is an unpaid intern at the Folly. Peter has promised he’ll teach her spells if she learns Latin. Her mum and dad still love each other. Paul is her disabled brother whom her mum looks after all day.

Indigo, a.k.a. Gaspode, is the first fox Abigail meets. An agent who reports to Control; Indigo’s team is based out of Kentish Town Station. Other foxes include Lucifer, Sugar Niner, and Zebra.

The Folly is…
…headquarters for the magic division of the police. Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingaleis in charge. Toby is their mascot dog. Falcon is a code word when the police want to talk about magic Police Constable Peter Grant, is in Herefordshire hunting missing kids. AWARE is the Fed Internet. Detective Constable Karen Jonquire, one of the regular police, is trying to interrogate Abigail.

Kids who have gone missing…
…include Jessica, Natali, Simon, Nerd Boy, and Long Hair, who are subsumed.

Simon is a bit slow and more of a people person. Jessica is the friend Simon is supposed to meet. Angelica is the housekeeper. Simon’s mum, a senior manager at the Home Office, knows a bit about the Folly. We reckon she’s a spy. Commander Ted is the teddy bear guarding the back door.

Natali is the person Abigail was supposed to meet. She’s also Mary Brown with a sister, Lizzie Brown. Their siblings include Selina, Henrietta, Phoebe, and Charles.

The Tumulus, a.k.a. Boadicea’s Mount, is the protected monument where the missing children meet. The House, a genius loci, is also the Pied Piper. Uncle Oboe is Unknown Opposition.

Julias and Grace Dvôrák both flew in the war. (Grace’s father was Edward Harnal from whom Grace inherited the house. Harnal had purchased it from Wilfred Wright, the oldest son of Henry Wright who bought the house in 1870 from John Brown who had built the house in 1801.) The Dvôrák kids are Jan and the gay Helena who sold the house. The Hungarian refugees of 1956 are friends of the Dvôráks. Jerry, maybe Jarakh; the betraying Samantha, who is Grace’s best friend; Ezra is a friend of Papa’s (Henry); Mama is Isabella; and, Indiana is their red-haired terrier. Frederick Reogh delivered an upright piano. There’s also an auntie Isabella from the original owner’s time period, but she’s a Shadow Lady now.

The Cat Lady, who looks homeless, feeds the wild (and tame) cats of the heath.

The Fae…
…a.k.a. the demi-monde. Genii locorum are the spirits of a place, which usually form around a singular event. Or you can call them the daughters of Mama Thames. Sugar Dog H-1 Alpha, Ziggy, is a dog captain, the alpha male, who leads Abigail to Mama Thames. Thistle, a.k.a. Riverwife, in her pink bikini, who says Abigail is “ghost hunter, fox whisperer, troublemaker”. Does she ever know Abigail!

Sir Thomas “Wasteman” Maryon had tried to build a housing estate on Hampstead Heath. A Fed is a cop. Vestigia is the sensation of magic. Showmen, a.k.a. whirligig men, are workers of carnivals. The foxes have coded the dogs on the heath: gun dogs are George; H stands for heath; some dogs are called Rogers, German shepherds are Ables. Mrs Georgious runs the Latin club at school. Ms Sylvester is Abigail’s English teacher. Mrs Redmayne has her own theories about women and oblivion.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a creamy background covered in a gradient of green lines depicting a map of London. At the top is an info blurb in black as is the author’s name immediately below that. In the middle is a huge scrolling banner in cream with orange shading and font. In the below right of the cover is a mossy green badge encircled with a yellow satin stitch. Inside it is text that reads “Fox Whisperer, Grade 1”. In the middle of the badge is an embroidered fox head. At the very bottom in the center is the series information in a combination of black and orange.

The title is accurate enough, for it is about “What Abigail Did That Summer”, even though she shouldn’t do it.

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