Aaronovitch does the right thing for this series. He takes the main character out of the city, puts some of the ongoing and unanswered questions on the shelf and make Peter Grant shine on his own. The story structure is a marked departure from the first four books but, in my opinion, is one of the best in the series. This book is not available in North America until January 6, 2015. Since I am a big fan of the series, I went out of my way to obtain a copy from the UK where it was released earlier.
In the British countryside, a couple of children have gone missing. Peter Grant’s governor sends him to investigate as child abductions had traditionally been hallmarks of rouge wizards. Peter finds himself investigating without the help of Nightingale. While the case does not initially look like it involves any magical elements, Peter’s keen senses leave him convinced that there is more than meets the eye. Using his unique, empirical investigative style, Peter uses science to investigate magic. Don’t worry, he uses a bit of magic as well. In solving the mystery of the missing girls, he deals with angry mythical beasts, fairy magic and a few minor gods.
The Series Matures
The main character of Peter Grant really comes into his own in this installment. He seems to shake off the idea he is simply an apprentice as he uses only his learned skills to solve the crimes and deal with the paranormal elements. While I love this series, Peter cannot live in shadow of Nightingale forever.
If you are a reader that wants Peter to focus more on magic and less on science, you will be disappointed. Peter’s magic skills have not progress that much but, to me, the draw of the series is the cerebral manner he approaches magic and the efforts he takes to understand the why of magic. Peter Grant is not blowing up buildings or burning up ghouls like Harry Dresden, but what he lacks in firepower he makes up in brainpower.
My Little Pony…from Hell
This installment delves deeper in the local lore and mythology and deals with more mythical creatures than previous installments. This serves as some excellent world building for the series and lets the author show off his imagination. Let’s just say that this Brony was shattered when he learned that friendship is not magic.
Some readers may be disappointed that this book doesn’t deal directly with the cliff-hangers from the previous novel. We don’t hear about the faceless man and Lesley is in the background and only minor player. This story is all about Peter Grant.
Can this Book Stand Alone
Don’t Do It. While the main story can be understood on its own, it is better enjoyed with previous knowledge and understanding of the characters. For example, Beverley plays a central role in the story but you really need to know her background and her relationship with Peter to appreciate her role. I suggest you start right from book 1 if you are new to the series.
Ben Aaronovitch can write me a book anytime. Peter Grant may be my favorite wizard in the Urban Fantasy realm and that is in large part due to Aaronovitch’s writing style. He is always aware of his surroundings and ensures you get to know the city and places you are visiting with his characters. If you haven’t started this series, grab book one and give it a go. Highly Recommended.
It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.
Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest
Sex – 2.5
This book is a bit frisker than most of the others. While there are several sexual encounters, Peter never wants to bore you with details of the encounter. The sexual content is quite mild.
Language – 3.5
Mild obscenities are used. 31 uses of “Shit”. 8 uses of “damn” 9 religious exclamations and sprinkling of other minor potty words. I did not recall any usage of the f-word but a search shows that it was used 40 times. I guess I shouldn’t be relying on my memory alone.
Violence – 2
Violence did not play a major role in this installment. There was some minor fighting but nothing too graphic.