There’s a new Rivers of London book out! Except it’s not a novel but a 140-page novella, and I’d thought it wasn’t being released until September. It turns out that an American publisher, Subterranean Press, has just released a signed, limited-edition hardcover for $40, with another 26 signed, lettered editions available for those willing to pay $250.
My local council librarians must have been in an extravagant mood, because they’ve just bought three of the limited-edition hardcovers. I read copy number 676. Look, it’s signed and everything:
Is this book worth nearly two dollars a page? Well, no, but it’s a charming story with some characteristically amusing Peter Grant commentary, set sometime between the events of Foxglove Summer and The Hanging Tree. In this book, London’s trains are being haunted by some ghosts who are behaving very strangely, even by ghost standards. Peter, Abigail and Toby the ghost-hunting dog join up with Jaget of the British Transport Police to find out what the ghosts want – and then realise that they need to save a real, live person from a terrible fate.
There are two other strands of the story, one involving a brand-new river god and the other involving those talking foxes who first popped up in Whispers Under Ground. This is at least one too many strands for a book of this length. Neither of these two stories seems to have anything to do with the main mystery plot and they aren’t resolved in any satisfactory way. I’m particularly annoyed about the foxes, because they’ve been hanging around for four books and we still don’t know anything about them. No, wait – we find out they talk to Abigail because she feeds them kebabs. I sincerely hope they do something more interesting in the next book.
The central mystery itself is resolved fairly quickly and is probably the least interesting part of the book, although the ghosts themselves are poignant. I most enjoyed the bits in which the Folly characters interact – Abigail and Peter taking a break from ghost-hunting to sit on a train platform and eat Molly’s packed supper (“steak and kidney pasties, still warm, with a recycled jam jar full of pickled onions staring out at us like so many eyeballs”), Nightingale sitting at the kitchen table polishing his shoes and reminiscing about his school days to Peter, Abigail teaching Molly how to upload cake photos to Molly’s Twitter account. It was good to learn about Abigail’s ‘internship’ at the Folly, although she did show distinct signs of being a Mary-Sue. (Nightingale calls her a genius! Postmartin’s amazed by her Latin skills! She’s bound to ace her GCSEs! She’s such a techno-whiz that even British Transport is impressed! She can talk to animals! And she hasn’t even turned sixteen yet!) Peter and Nightingale argue about whether they should teach Abigail magic or not, but we all know perfectly well that she’s going to be the next Folly apprentice. And let’s hope that turns out better than the last time a brilliant young woman joined the Folly …