If you haven’t read any of the other Johannes Cabal books then this isn’t the place to start. A Long Spoon is much more whimsical than the rest of the series but in a dark and disturbing manner. A trip in to Hell with a Devil? Sure, why not?
In short Cabal summons a Devil to help get in to Pandemonium by way of The Abyss. The Devil, Zarenyia, isn’t at all what he bargained for and honestly the rest of the story is overshadowed by their interaction which is masterfully done. Zarenyia really takes the cake in this one (but not the fishcake) and I’d really like to see more of her and luckily Howard leaves this possibility open. Hell I’d like to see a story or two involving her and different summoners.
As far as short stories go this one is really is a really fun romp. Hell it may be a novella because I can’t really tell the difference but whatever it is I really enjoyed it. You don’t have to know anything about the series to read this and enjoy it so it’d make a good starting point to Howard’s writing if nothing else.
Peter Grant is back with another case for The Folly. While it picks up really well I felt like the premise for getting Peter to the countryside was a contrived. It doesn’t take away from the rest of the story but it’s a bumpy bit right at the start. In this one we take a step back from the Faceless Man story arc and head out in to the country to investigate a pair of missing girls.
Peter has to rely on his own devices a little more than in previous stories and in doing so I think Peter gains some much deserved independence. His ingenuity shines in this story even though we are reminded, by his decisions in a couple of instances, that he’s still a young man and will act like it at times. There isn’t as much tension in Foxglove Summer as there has been in the other books and that’s fine with me. Lesley’s absence, or near absence is felt but not in a way that detracts from the overall story. I think that Aaronovitch set out to create a hole where Lesley used to be and does that quite well.
With a change of setting we end up with Beverly Brook playing a much larger role in the story and quite possibly a decision that may haunt Peter somewhere down the road. This also means that the supporting cast isn’t a developed entity and as such they take more of a back seat than they have in the rest of the books.
Overall Foxglove summer seems like a segue but, to what I don’t know. However I am looking forward to whatever Aaronovitch has in store for us. There are a couple of ways I could see a spin off for a character or two while Peter’s arc returns to The Folly hunting the faceless man. I am also looking forward to Lesley’s story being resolved. I have a theory on how that’ll happen but I’ll be keeping that to myself for the moment.
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