Here are two shortish reviews for a couple of books that I read recently. They were both pretty good and I would recommend either one depending on what you are in the mood for.
What Abigail Did That Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
Publication Date: March 18, 2021
This longish novella is part of the Rivers of London (aka Peter Grant) series and takes place between books five and six. It varies from the other books in that it is all about Abigail, a minor character in the series to date. I really like Abigail and I’m always thrilled when she shows up in the books. She is a no nonsense teenager who can see and talk to ghosts. She has also developed a relationship with some talking foxes. The foxes are a delight and I would love to see more stories about them.
This story includes many of the elements that I come to expect in this series, lots of magic, river goddesses and fae. But this one also includes a house full of ghosts which is feeding off of the children in the neighborhood. It is pretty spooky as Abigail and the foxes become entangled in the ghosts issues. Abigail does have a tendency to rush in where she perhaps should be more cautious, but then we wouldn’t have much of a story if she didn’t.
I listened to the audiobook, which was well done, narrated by Shvorne Marks. There are some footnotes that are narrated by a different reader, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, which threw me at first until I realized they were notes entered into Abigail’s story by Professor Martin, another character from the series.
Overall, if you enjoy the series, this is a must read. It adds to Abigail’s part in the series nicely. If you don’t know this series, I’m not sure this would be a good one to start with or not. Some parts of the world might be confusing without the background knowledge of the series.
A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
Publication Date: November 9, 2021
I initially picked this one up because it won a Newbery Honor award this year, and because the age range for it is on the cusp for middle grade/YA I wanted to make sure it was appropriate for an elementary school. I am still kind of on the fence about that. While I liked the story, I’m not sure it will hold much appeal to 4th or 5th graders. The pacing is too slow and there is not a lot of action until the end of the book. I just don’t think it will hold their interest. I do think young teens and possibly older teens will like it.
The story is told from two perspectives and from two different worlds as well. It is steeped in Lipan Apache stories, especially the ones the are about the animal people. Both characters are well developed and were fun to spend time with. Nina starts off, being 9 years old, and by the end of the book is 16 years old. She is a storyteller and uses an app to record her stories, although she is too shy to share them with anyone. Oli is a cottonmouth snake, and an animal person, which means he can assume a human shape when he wants, but a snake is his true form. He lives in a different world than Nina and has some adventures before he falls to earth and meets Nina.
The story is very slow moving, almost to the point of boredom, but if you stick with it you will be rewarded with a solid and interesting ending. Oli and Nina don’t even meet until almost the end of the book, but when they do is when things really get interesting. There is a lot packed into this book and some things felt unresolved at the end, but it was overall a solid and interesting story.
I have not read this author’s other book Elatsoe, but from what I can tell from other reviews it was better than this one. I did like the writing style so I might give it a try at some point.