Autumn-berries in sunlight

Foxglove Summer (Rivers of London #5)

I, um, may have prevailed upon the kindness of friends to read this book, since it's not out in the U.S. 'til January (at which point I shall be buying it promptly!).

I was really dissatisfied with this book, so be aware that this is mostly complaining. :P

First - there was stuff I liked! I really enjoyed the rural setting -- these books have such a fantastic sense of place; it's one of the things I love about them-- and the new little bits of expanded information about the universe. We know what Molly is! (I loved Peter's delight at finding out.) We know a little more about Ettersburg and what happened there, and we're starting to meet more magical people in the vicinity. I also absolutely loved the creepy midnight unicorn hunt and the scene where Beverly rescues Peter on the train with her shotgun full of scrap iron. :D And the series' snarky sense of humor is still a whole lot of fun.

But the book as a whole ... I dunno. Was it just me or did this book seem to wander a lot? The pacing was so loose and sprawling and lacking in tension. I was enjoying it in the beginning, when Peter was wandering around the countryside and we were following him around. But I expected it to tight up later and it just ... didn't. I understand that actual police work involves a lot of standing around, waiting for leads, thinking things will go somewhere and then discovering that they don't -- but it doesn't make great drama. After awhile there was this start-and-stop pace to the book that got really frustrating, where the tension would suddenly ramp up like it was leading to something, then drop away and everyone would stand around for awhile. Scenes repeat over and over ... how many different times did Peter visit the Marlowe and Lacey houses, sit around in the kitchen talking to people, and then leave? Or stand around in a parking lot or field or police break room chatting with Dominic about some inconsequential clue? And this is fine for awhile (the books in general are fairly loose and sprawling; it's just how they're paced), but I kept thinking the tension was going to ramp up towards the end of the book, and yet it never really did. Even the scene where Peter trades himself for the girls felt weirdly lacking in tension, especially since what happens next is that he and his captors wander off into the woods and .... fall asleep.

It also seemed like the book failed to answer some of the really fundamental questions about the mystery. Most notably, unless I missed something important, what was the explanation for the two identical girls with similar-but-not-identical DNA? Zoe went into the woods with one baby sister and came out with a different one, but I couldn't figure out where the second baby came from (besides "fairyland"), or why they looked the same. I think it would've made more sense to me if the changeling was cloned off Nicole, but she doesn't seem to have been, because the DNA is different. Another of Derek's illegitimate children? If so, who is her birth mother? A fairy? And if so, when did that happen? Also, she seemed like a normal little girl, while the one raised in fairyland (who is 100% human as far as we know) is the creepy different one.

Also, the whole thing with the cut-down forest and the swap happening at Midsummer (WHICH NO ONE IN THE BOOK EVEN SEEMED TO NOTICE) was such a blindingly obvious "fairies are involved here!" red flag. I did kinda wonder about the timing of everything and why this family, why now, but "because fairies" is a pretty good explanation. Still, it bugged me a lot that the two-Nicoles situation never was explained to my satisfaction.

Another thing making this book feel slightly directionless and frustrating was how little it dealt with major plot threads from previous books. Or with anything from previous books. We got a little follow-up on the Lesley situation, at least to the point that we know a) she's still alive, and b) she doesn't seem to be working with Nightingale (which I remember was one of the major fan theories for her turncoatism at the end of the last book), but the ENTIRE ensemble was missing this book except for a bit of Beverly and a couple scenes with Peter talking to Nightingale on the phone, and I really missed them! I enjoyed the rural setting but I wasn't expecting Peter to spend the WHOLE DAMN BOOK in Herefordshire and away from the rest of the cast.

So yeah, I enjoyed parts of it, and it definitely held my attention to the end -- it's not that it was a bad book, it just didn't seem to hold up all that well to the previous books in the series, IMHO. But maybe that's just me?

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