Foxglove Summer
March 5, 2019 4:31 AM - by Ben Aaronovitch - Subscribe

When two young girls go missing in rural Herefordshire, police constable and wizard-in-training Peter Grant is sent out of London to check that nothing supernatural is involved. It’s purely routine—Nightingale, Peter’s superior, thinks he’ll be done in less than a day. But Peter’s never been one to walk away from someone in trouble, so when nothing overtly magical turns up he volunteers his services to the local police, who need all the help they can get. But because the universe likes a joke as much as the next sadistic megalomaniac, Peter soon comes to realize that dark secrets underlie the picturesque fields and villages of the countryside and there might just be work for Britain’s most junior wizard after all.
posted by dinty_moore (20 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
This promo interview about Foxglove Summer's been showing up in my youtube recommendations.

And housekeeping note - swapped the order so we're reading Hanging Tree in two weeks, then Furthest Station. Word of God is that Furthest Station takes place first, but publishing order was reversed and there's stuff mentioned in Furthest Station that makes a lot more sense if you've read Hanging Tree.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:39 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


What I liked:

1. Peter being out of London

2. The bee house and its only-hinted-at story

3. Another gay couple just being couple-y

4. The two bereft families with their complicated entanglements and griefs

5. The twist

6. What do you do with an ill-disciplined changeling

7. If we can’t have Strossian evil unicorns, these will do.

8. The plot is meandering but the little resolutions keep it moving.

What I liked less:

1. Leslie being more or less on hold

2. The clue-dispensing woman with the brain injury (whose name I can’t recall)

3. The Fae are kind of dull enemies, since we get no motivation, really.

4. Peter makes an oath and Beverley gets to break it pretty casually; don’t promises have power?

5. Given how often Peter was warned about getting too involved with the Rivers, you think he would have given events a bit more thought. I guess there’s the possibility that Peter is omitting Beverley’s glamour, but that’s another kind of bad.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:46 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


The woman in “Don’t Like 2” is Stan.

I did like the depiction of Zoe Thomas. Another damaged person, possibly mentally ill, possibly abducted, but treated with a lot more delicacy and respect than Stan. I like that she and Peter bond a little over mutual childhood issues, and the “gain trust by cleaning” moment is very nice.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:44 PM on March 5


(caught up on my own reread)

*So the tree-beating scene is right about when I decided that I would die for Peter Grant. I'd been hoping for some sort of emotional fallout from the Lesley situation, but Peter's never been that emotional and that continues here. The anger does feel like it's just off the page throughout most of the book.

I really appreciate that Peter's not an idiot when Lesley starts contacting him. He doesn't try to get away with talking to Lesley on his own - he immediately contacts the appropriate people in charge of bringing Lesley in (and Peter isn't responsible for bringing in Lesley, because that would also be lazy and expected), and he follows their instructions.

*I'd totally missed that Mellissa's description (frizzy yellow hair, black eyes, tiny mouth) were very anthropomorphized bee-like the first time. Is she even genetically related to Oswald? Is her weirdness because of feyness seeping into the area? Not-Nicole has/had human DNA but could cast a glamour with the best of them because of her time in the feywild. Are the Molly-type of fae the end result of humans getting stuck in there and absorbing their environment? Is that why the half-fae Nicole seemed pretty close to normal?

*Peter is back to being inventive, which I think we'd seen less of since the first book. The makeshift battery staff, the electronics killer variation of lux, and also being given the space needed to figure out what it means to be a modern wizard police officer. And being good at it! Marstow treats him like he knows what he's doing, and other than making the odd stupid decision, he's pretty good at his job.

*While I missed the London crew, I did like Dominic Croft. They allowed him to be competent without it taking away from Peter - Peter's great as his thing, but he doesn't know the people and he doesn't know the area. Dominic does - no BBC murder mystery vicars necessary (when reading this the first time, I did briefly wonder if they were going to go that route - just lean right into that trope and deconstruct it).

DC Croft is also not treated like an obstacle. I've mentioned this before, but a lot of the ways that these books defy genre expectations is just by having a main character that's not a rugged individualist (otherwise known as, you know, an asshole). He trusts people to do their jobs, listens to them, and asks for help when he needs it. And that's made pretty damn explicit at the end, when he's imagining what he'd do for Oswald. The best thing he can imagine is everybody gathering and coming to an agreement together.

This exchange was great, too:

“How do people normally react to this?” asked Dominic.
….
“Usually a bit stunned to start with,” I said. “Then they either get angry, go into denial or just deal with it.”

“Sounds familiar,” said Dominic.


It's cheap but it's still good.

*RE: Given how often Peter was warned about getting too involved with the Rivers, you think he would have given events a bit more thought. I guess there’s the possibility that Peter is omitting Beverley’s glamour, but that’s another kind of bad.

I think it's worth noting that most of the people who ask about him and Bev either assume they're already involved or are asking him why they aren't involved yet. Nightingale doesn't seem worried about them getting together - he was going to send Peter upriver to check on Bev right before the murder in Whispers Underground, and he sends Beverley to Herefordshire.

It also doesn't seem that sudden - whether he was thinking of getting together with her after sending her upriver at the end of RoL/MR, he's certainly been thinking about it since the spring court - so for a few months, at least.

My big question is why Beverley has been hanging out waiting for Peter to make up his mind. Dude ghosts her for nine months, sends mixed signals for another four-ish? Especially considering that he asks questions she feels like she can't answer, which could get awkward in the future. Is the dating pool in the demimonde that limited, or is Peter's ass just that fine?

*We do get a couple of answers to longstanding questions - at least partially what's up with Molly, and what happened with Ettersberg. Though I've got a question about that, too - from the description of Ettersberg from Moon Over Soho, it sounded like it was a POW camp? Why was Nightingale talking about bombing POW's as the better option? And if so, why isn't anyone in the narrative (Oswald, Peter) finding this to be kind of alarming?

I'm hoping there's a throwaway line later that at least says that the POW's had since been transferred or put on a death march to Poland outside of the bombing radius or something. Or they had intelligence that all of the POW's were vampires. Some vague concern about the POW's somewhere.

From everything that we learned about the past, I think it ends up boiling down to the fact that the past was kind of shit and that rural, pastoral vision of England really only worked for a subset of people (and is still pretty damn uncomfortable if you're not white).

*This one seems to end rather abruptly. The other novels seemed to have one last coda scene, and that seems to be missing from this one - I was hoping for some talk about the open house, or maybe talking to Molly about finding her family.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:02 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


dinty_moore, imma finish reading your comment, but I wanted to jump in to say that the tree-beating scene Y E S
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:04 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


This is, hands-down, my favorite ROL book. I don't care the plot meanders. I don't care that after five or six reads, I'm still not entirely sure I understand which swapped baby was where for what. I don't care that Aaronovitch clearly had another 200 pages in this planned or so, and then ran out of time to write it, so just turned in his homework. I am in these books for Peter Grant and Aaronovitch's ability to draw characters.

And I am all-the-fuck in for this book because:

- TREE BEATING.

- Peter out of water in the countryside. I've been living in cities for about two decades now, and it is really weird and uncomfortable to be out there in the suburbs/exurbs/rural area.

- The care that Aaronovitch takes in not having the rural people be stereotypes, but also not glossing over how alienating the heavily white countryside can be for people who visibly Do Not Belong and aren't just Tourists Out Spending Money.

- When Lesley texts Peter. I happened to be in London with Mr. Machine when this came out, so I picked it up in Waterstone's, and was reading it in the morning before he woke up. London hotel rooms tend to be tiny, and so one morning, he grumpily woke up while I was writhing around on the armchair 0.05 feet away from the bed, trying to deal with my overwhelming feelings about Lesley texting Peter.

Six months later, he's reading ROL and has gotten to that book, and he comes down the stairs to the kitchen where I am puttering and just puts Foxglove Summer down on the coffee table and lies down on the couch and closes his eyes and says, "Now I know how you felt that time." And we both knew what he was talking about.

- That quote about Nightingale at Ettersberg being Ajax with the shield got me right in the chest. In my spare time, I like to play at knowing something about "classical" literature, and oh God, it's a good one.

- THE FACT THAT PETER IS SPOKEN OF BY THE NETWORK OF OLD RUSTICATED (GOD I LOVE THAT AARONOVITCH USED THE OXBRIDGE TERM BECAUSE OFC) WIZARDS AND THEY CALL HIM THE STARLING WHICH IS JUST PERFECT

- Speaking of which, I love Mellissa the Bee Goddess and her cottage of hot drone men down the hill who exist to keep the hive at the right temperature and bang the queen. When this showed up on the Blue, I may have grinned a lot.

- That fucking line that Peter has with Dominic about mates, and Dominic is talking about Stu, and you, the reader, are feeling that terrible worry about how Peter feels about Lesley, JESUS.

- The guns that Molly casually packs at the bottom of Peter's suitcases are made by Purdey's. This is a link to what Purdey guns go for on the secondhand market. The Folly was posh.

- Which is all to say that I find the tree-beating scene so SATISFYING because you can draw the line from the hints we've gotten early on -- about how Peter wasn't important person for his mother, or his father, and clearly wasn't for Lesley, and how they didn't put him or his well-being first, and the toll that's taken on him. Just because Peter doesn't describe an emotion on the page, or just because he makes jokes about it, doesn't meant that he doesn't have a lot of fucking feelings about it. And that strikes me, in some ways, as being one of the most English parts of him, and Aaronovitch has made a very clear political (and character) choice to write it that way.

(I didn't read Beverly as waiting around nine months for Peter. She got sent out to the countryside, got into plants and nature and hydrology, made some important political links, did some growing up herself, probably had a fling or two, and when he actually came to the country and desperately needed help of the emotional kind, she decided that she wanted to be with Peter. And since he has done a bunch of growing up, too, he met her there.)
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:39 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Given how often Peter was warned about getting too involved with the Rivers, you think he would have given events a bit more thought. I guess there’s the possibility that Peter is omitting Beverley’s glamour, but that’s another kind of bad.

I think Peter has been turning it over in his head, and has been thinking about it. And it's part of why he's held back, even setting aside his complicated feelings about Simone. But at the same time, even though he's been warned, what does he see in front of him?

- Oxley and Isis, happily living together in a caravan after centuries, with Isis having once been a mortal woman who has become immortal or some equivalent thereof
- Efra and Oberon, happily living together in South London after centuries, with Oberon having once been an American slave who fought for the British in the American Revolutionary War
- Tyburn and her husband, with whom she has two children and a lovely fancy house

From Peter's POV at this point in time, it doesn't seem that unusual to get involved with a river, right?

The next book, and particularly the coda with Tyburn talking to Peter, can be framed as an extended meditation on what it means to be a magic practitioner/a River/in the demimonde and love people who aren't -- Broken Homes is magic-touched families falling apart, Foxglove Summer is magic-touched families rebuilding, and Hanging Tree is the consequences of that rebuilding.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:48 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Broken Homes is magic-touched families falling apart,

That’s a very good analysis! One of the things I like about the series is how much attention is paid to community. We’ve talked about this in other threads, but this is a set of stories about how people exist in communities and what those communities mean to them, and the worst people in the series tend to be people who have been severed from their communities by choice or not. For example, James Gallagher and Ryan Carroll’s tragedy in Whispers Underground is partly a competition to find a place to belong.

I guess my problem with the Peter and Beverly scene is more that the telegraphing of it is kind of spotty. And, yeah, you can develop internal arguments for why it’s OK that it plays out that way, but I think a bunch of it is that Aaronovitch is still thinking in Teleplay format where some of the heavy emotional lifting could be done by actors rather than the prose.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:35 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


By the way, I know I keep harping about problems with Aarovitch’s plotting; he’s still miles beyond a lot of Urban Fantasy authors (*eyes Butcher and Hamilton*) whose protagonists’ emotional development Is so weird and random that the characters lose all verisimilitude. Interestingly, they are also very often series about characters who are explicitly trying to escape or defy communities rather than exist within them.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:41 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed this book...but, like Peter, I'm ready for a return to London. I felt like the world was too small and stifling...so yeah, a small town. I think I also felt his uncomfortableness about being there. I missed Nightingale's presence, but I was glad to see Beverley again.

I thought that it ended much too abruptly. I was hoping for a bit more of a post-mortem (as it were) at the end of the book.

This is a link to what Purdey guns go for on the secondhand market. The Folly was posh. Daaaaaang.
posted by Gray Duck at 2:45 PM on March 9


Love this book. Basically just agree with joyceanmachine's comments. All the feels!
posted by Wretch729 at 6:31 PM on March 9


Oh, and re: Dinty_Moore's Ettersberg question. I apologize if I've missed it but I don't think we've explicitly mentioned in any of these threads that Ettersberg hill is, in our reality anyway, the location of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Buchenwald, besides being a forced labor camp, was also one of the places the Nazis performed medical experiments like testing poison on prisoners or burning them with phosphorus to test burn treatments. It makes sense that in a world with magic, magical experimentation would be included.

I presume the comments about Nightingale wanting to bomb the place from altitude was Aaronovitch alluding to the ongoing debate over whether the Allies should have bombed known sites of mass killing like the concentration camps. This Wikipedia entry is an incomplete summary of the sorts of arguments that get thrown around. An allied bombing raid that stopped, even temporarily, the industrialized genocide and ongoing "medical research" might be preferable to doing nothing. It's a complicated argument, and in any case one that largely played out in hindsight and not at the time.

The other connection to real life WWII history is the idea that the British wizards were after the research data, if only to prevent the other Allied powers from getting it. The connection to real life things like, for example, Operation Paperclip is straightforward. Paperclip was the umbrella name for the effort to bring over 1600 German scientists and engineers, and in many cases whitewash their war crimes in the service of turning their efforts against the Russians in the looming Cold War.

The existence of the "Black Library" helps up the stakes in the conflict with the Faceless Man, and for that matter to both justify the Folly's existence and make it clear that they need to get their shit together. Imagine what use he could make of a trove of Nazi military quantum magic research. Yikes.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:55 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


This is where I admit that question was a much more restrained version of my original note, which was 'the fuck is nightingale wanting to bomb a concentration camp'. I hadn't realized it was the exact same location as Buchenwald, though.

I guess the two things that jump out at me were that a) the arguments about whether to bomb were from at least slightly earlier in the war, and Spatchcock seemed to be the final push before the rest of the Allies got there. Maybe Nightingale made the 'bomb it from altitude' suggestion earlier, but there's nothing there to suggest that. Then b) the absence of POW's from Oswald's narration - from both the reasoning of why they'd want to bomb and what happened to them in the aftermath. Which I realize is probably historically accurate, concentration camp victims not being a top concern, but still upsetting. Nightingale's suggestion was high-level bombing; more of a shotgun than the scalpel approach that seems like it was requested. It's totally possible that a magic version would have been more accurate, but that seems like the sort of thing that should have been explicitly stated.

And, okay. I'm of Eastern European Jewish extraction, though as far as I know the closest anyone that was related to me got to a concentration camp was a pit in Nemyriv. But I don't think it's that odd to think that the Holocaust approached with delicacy. I get where Aaronovitch was getting at now, I guess, but it still seems like it was hamfisted at best.

Pulling it back a bit, back in Moon Over Soho, Peter manages to convince Nightingale not to kill Simone and her sisters by bringing up Ettersberg - specifically by asking what everyone died for, if not because they believed in a better way of doing things. And, of course, that's not the case. They died for Empire - they died because the old way of doing things (and the belief that that way of doing things needed to preserved at all costs) killed a hell of a lot of people. I don't know if Aaronovitch knew why the people at Ettersberg died when he wrote Moon Over Soho, but Nightingale did, and I find it interesting that Peter was so incredibly off base, but his argument still worked. It even makes sense that it would still work, because unwittingly reminding Nightingale how horrible the old way of thinking was would be a compelling reason to be willing to go all-in for change.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:41 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


I hadn't thought of Nightingale's POV that way but it makes sense!
posted by Wretch729 at 10:11 AM on March 10


- That quote about Nightingale at Ettersberg being Ajax with the shield got me right in the chest. In my spare time, I like to play at knowing something about "classical" literature, and oh God, it's a good one.

As someone who knows nothing about classical literature, please feel to tell us more, because I’m pretty sure there’s some subtleties that have been lost on me.

_THE FACT THAT PETER IS SPOKEN OF BY THE NETWORK OF OLD RUSTICATED (GOD I LOVE THAT AARONOVITCH USED THE OXBRIDGE TERM BECAUSE OFC) WIZARDS AND THEY CALL HIM THE STARLING WHICH IS JUST PERFECT

I'd probably have gone with magpie, considering the smart but easily distracted by shiny. I admit I know nothing of starlings.

I definitely want to see the rest of these guys at some point. Or at least have Peter get access to their mailing list/facebook group.

- Speaking of which, I love Mellissa the Bee Goddess and her cottage of hot drone men down the hill who exist to keep the hive at the right temperature and bang the queen. When this showed up on the Blue, I may have grinned a lot.

1. I completely missed the scientific name connection and that makes me feel better about her name’s spelling, since the double l trips me up every time I see it..
2. The thing that was going around twitter the other day when I was writing my reaction up was the lesbian bee movie (aka, Tell it to the Bees - I think it just got a US release date). So that was fun, and I’m just going to toss it out there as an alternate Mellissa origin story.

- Which is all to say that I find the tree-beating scene so SATISFYING because you can draw the line from the hints we've gotten early on -- about how Peter wasn't important person for his mother, or his father, and clearly wasn't for Lesley, and how they didn't put him or his well-being first, and the toll that's taken on him. Just because Peter doesn't describe an emotion on the page, or just because he makes jokes about it, doesn't meant that he doesn't have a lot of fucking feelings about it. And that strikes me, in some ways, as being one of the most English parts of him, and Aaronovitch has made a very clear political (and character) choice to write it that way.

Yes! And it makes his decision that of course he’s going to switch himself for the kids make all that much more sense at the end of the book – this is a guy who has always been told that someone else is more important than him, and even if he values a person, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are required to value him back. Of course he’s going to see the them-for-me swap as the right thing to do.

And going back to all of the Peter-as-Sidekick/Peter being underestimated and ignored stuff from the first two books, of course he’s going to have internalized it to the extent that he has. I’m not saying he has crippling self-esteem issues or anything like that, but Peter tends to assume that he’s just not as good as other people. He thinks he’s Ron, not Harry.

Interestingly, they are also very often series about characters who are explicitly trying to escape or defy communities rather than exist within them.

One of my biggest problems with your typical urban fantasy novel is that a lot of the authors don’t seem to understand how urban communities work and either there is no mundane community, or it’s like a small White town with some added werewolves standing in for brown people next door. And that’s not how urban communities work – sure, you can live someplace with a few million people and act like you’re a rugged individualist who is escaping everyone to live an anonymous life – but the fictional version of that tends to act like kind of an asshole. And sure, you can have cities of neighborhoods that are fairly segregated*; but then there’s the werewolves standing in for brown people aspect, which, well. It’s not that it’s an unrealistic worldview for police, but it’s not exactly one I'd like to read.

And the Urban in urban fantasy vs. reality seems even more dissimilar if you’re originally from a city, and the urban area – even, god forbid, the part of an urban area where there are poor and PoC – is the default. I enjoy stories where one moves to the big city and discovers their found family through hardship and cultural adjustment as much as the next person, but I never fully connect with them. As someone who grew up in a majority-minority area of a big city, then moved to a medium sized city, they always show my default as weird.

But Peter is from London, even if nobody ever believes it. And Aaronovitch’s choice to make Proper English Magic work from people and people-made things – vestigia largely caused by people and kept in stone and buildings and not grass and trees – means that the most Properly Magically English place is London. The Tolkienesque countryside might be magical too, but it’s weird and uncomfortable and exotic – Not fully English the way London is. In a lot of ways, even if Peter is acting as the audience stand-in for learning about magic, he’s also the one how the important things (IE, urban communities and modern policing) work - it’s his turf. For once you have an urban fantasy novel that properly treats the urban as default.

*The urban fantasy novel that always made the most sense to me was The City and The City, and part of the reason why I don’t think there’s really a need for a ‘veil’ or an explanation for why the mundanes don’t realize what’s going on, is because people are really good at ignoring parts of the city that are Not Theirs, and there are 1,000 different cues to tell someone that a piece of a city is Not For Them. I do find it interesting that the place where Aaronovitch chose to implement a veil is also the place where there's theoretically less of a need.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:59 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


As someone who knows nothing about classical literature, please feel to tell us more, because I’m pretty sure there’s some subtleties that have been lost on me.

So I can't even really play a classicist on the Internet, and don't read any Greek or Latin at all and mostly read the Penguin translations once in a while. Plus, the whole idea of "classical" literature is questionable and problematic and tricky.

But I was pretty delighted by that passage for a couple reasons:

1. Ajax is a giant even among mythical heroes, towering over the rest of the dudes in the Iliad. And it fits with how even among his contemporaries, Nightingale was head-and-shoulders above them -- in the immediately preceding paragraphs, Hugh is telling Peter about how extraordinary Nightingale was. "So singular, so extraordinary -- or so the seniors said. Of course, most of us didn't believe a word of it, but we used it as a nickname -- irony, or so we thought."

2. In the Iliad, a lot of the dudes in the Iliad get super-cool action scenes where they murder a lot of dudes. Ajax gets his fair share of murder, too, but his most famous scenes are all about him murdering while defending -- him covering the retreat of the other Greeks with his huge, seven-hide shield. Him standing with the shield in front of his brother, skilled with the bow, and murdering anyone that comes at his brother. Him standing almost single-handedly against the Trojan attempts to burn ships. Him fighting the greatest warrior of the Trojans to a standstill not once, but twice, with the first time being for an entire day, and the second time retreating in defeat only because of direct divine intervention on the other side. He is described as the wall, the one who stands fast, the immovable shield.

It fits for Nightingale, for obvious reasons.

3. And that particular scene that gets quoted in the book is of one of the most famous bits for Ajax, where he is standing over the body of Patroclus ("son of Menoitios"). So yeah, it's delightful from an I RECOGNIZE THAT REFERENCE point of view.

4. But also because it's completely apt, at least to me -- it's a chain of utter fuck-up that leads to Patroclus being dead in the first place, after all. Agamemmnon and his (rapey) pettiness, Achilles and his (rapey) pettiness, Patroclus and his thirst for glory. It's a series of utter imperialist hubris and fuck-ups on the side of the Brits that led to Ettersberg, and there is Nightingale, blowing up Tiger tanks to the left and the right. It's a really lovely, subtle reminder of that Ettersberg is fundamentally a tragedy, and that Nightingale's heroism doesn't redeem that.

5. I love it as a characterization of Hugh and the class of men that he and Nightingale both come from -- I'd lay good money on that line of Greek springing into his head while watching Nightingale at Ettersberg. Instead of thinking about character from recent fiction or comics or movie characters or anything like that, Hugh is on his back being evacuated, and he thinks of the classroom and the ivy-covered secret passageway and the Greek drilled into him among the wood-paneled walls and the high windows. And Ajax, a giant among men, standing over a dream of empire now dead.

tl;dr: BUT AJAX COVERED THE SON OF MENOITIOS WITH HIS BROAD SHIELD AND STOOD FAST

LIKE A LION OVER ITS CHILDREN*


* Standard translations usually say "lioness over her cubs," but I have no idea which is more correct.
posted by joyceanmachine at 11:10 AM on March 13 [6 favorites]


Ok, I've read the books several times and I always feel vaguely stupid about possibly missing this, but where does Beverly get the Fairie Queene and is there any explanation of how she uses it to get to Peter? Somehow I always seem to be missing something there while I'm cheering on the rescue.

Also, I think I have said this before, but I think Aaronovitch does sometimes rely on what would be an actor to convey emotion (somebody mentioned this upthread also and I so agree) and I appreciate the fact that by this point in the book he's starting to flesh out some of that stuff for the readers.
posted by PussKillian at 11:11 AM on March 13 [2 favorites]


I'd probably have gone with magpie, considering the smart but easily distracted by shiny. I admit I know nothing of starlings.

A magpie works too!

Starlings struck me as being perfect because they're exactly what Hugh says Nightingale wanted in an apprentice -- tough and clever. And I like that when all these old white dudes initially looked at Peter, what they saw was a mixed race kid, nothing special, much like how a starling looks mostly brown and a mix of black and white and ordinary and nothing special. Then it moves, and you see the iridescence, and then it opens its mouth, and something completely unexpected comes out.

It's a nice parallel to the idea that Nightingale looks completely like a man of his time and class, but when he opens his mouth to do magic, remarkable beauty comes out of it. Nightingales are drab-looking little birds, y'know?
posted by joyceanmachine at 11:31 AM on March 13 [2 favorites]


I don't know if they make it clear how Beverly is "cheating," as she puts it, to grab Peter back but the steam engine itself was from the fun fair they visit earlier in the book. Beverly presumably leveraged her river connections to borrow it.
posted by Wretch729 at 1:09 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


Oh lord, that's right, it was at the fun fair. I kept thinking "this is cool and all but where did that thing come from again?"
posted by PussKillian at 3:04 PM on March 13


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