In the fourth and final part of Foxglove Summer, I get several surprises in a row, and fall completely in love with a certain secondary character.
So it looks like this book really was saving a bunch of surprises for the end! Not just the reveal of whodunit regarding the kidnap of Hannah and Nicole, but whether Nicole is actually Nicole (more on THAT shortly), whether or not Lesley really is reaching out to Peter for help, and – in a moment I was absolutely not expecting – we get some long-awaited insight into who, or more accurately what, Molly might be and where she came from…
It’s a lot to cram into one book’s finale, you might think. Yet somehow Aaronovitch delivers it all smoothly and elegantly, and the end result is that, finally, I am left positively itching to pick up the next book and find out what’s coming next!
But let’s talk about those reveals.
No aliens are responsible, as it turns out. The fae really did do it – well, a Queen of the Fae did it, to be precise. Because of course. The plot’s various loose ends are tied up as Peter works out who and what Nicole really is – she is indeed a changeling, though she wasn’t so much stolen away when the girls went missing as swapped back. Human Nicole was stolen away once before, as a baby – and thus fulfilling the usual folklorish criteria of changeling children – and the kidnapping was in fact the Queen taking her own(?) child back. The Nicole who replaces the one the Marstowes raised is in fact their biological daughter. She’s also twisted and kind of evil and really unnervingly handy with a glamour, but she’s still the kid they lost the first time.
This turns the typical changeling scenario on its head a little, which I found really interesting. Nicole’s mother knows that the girl eating an endless supply of sweets and causing havoc isn’t the daughter she raised, but she tries to bargain for the other Nicole even while knowing that ‘Monster’ Nicole really is the daughter she gave birth to. There’s a line about how family is about more than blood, and if there had been time to explore that idea further I would have happily gone along with it, because I couldn’t help feeling like it struck a chord with me.
As it is, Peter is a bit distracted with the matter of desperately trying to figure out a way to save both children from the Queen. So what does he do? Yup – he offers himself, as a trained wizard, in place of the girls if the Queen will let them both go. She accepts, and it’s during this scene that Peter has his internal monologue/revelation about how much the Queen reminds him of Molly, though it’s by way of her mannerisms more than any physical resemblance. There is, however, the fact that she shows off a mouthful of very pointy teeth and a prehensile tongue.
So, Molly is Fae. Is she fae royalty, or is that resemblance really just more of a general thing among her kind?
You know where the wild runaway train of my imagination’s going with this, right? MOLLY IS A RUNAWAY PRINCESS OF THE FAE AND SHE’S TOTALLY HIDING FROM HER PEOPLE BY BEING A SERVANT TO THOMAS “BLOW THE ROOF OFF” NIGHTINGALE.
BUT OMG HOW MUCH DOES NIGHTINGALE ACTUALLY KNOW ABOUT HER BECAUSE WE’VE NEVER HAD THAT QUESTION ANSWERED HAVE WE.
*Stops for breath* *Wheezes*
I may be a tad excited about this development.
And THEN. Peter is held to his word and taken into Faerie, yadda yadda, but thankfully he isn’t there for long before a prior claim to him gets him out of the ill-advised deal, in the form of Beverley Brook, an ACTUAL STEAM TRAIN, and all of Beverley’s ‘that’s my boyfriend, I’ll have you know’ attitude.
I might have fallen in love with her a little.
OK that’s a lie I fell in love with her A LOT.
Damn, Beverley. My life goals now include finding someone who will drive a steam train straight into fairyland to rescue me. Damn.
In other news, Lesley finally breaks cover long enough to actually talk to Peter on the phone instead of just texting, though she only stays on the line long enough to tell him, in pretty much no uncertain terms, that she’s aware she’s made her bed, and this is her lying in it. P.S. – he’s got a year before things really kick off and he ought to use the time more wisely.
I suspect Ms May doth protest too much about having accepted the consequences of her actions. If that was true, why contact Peter at all? Unless, of course, she was given that much freedom as a sort of graceful concession by the Faceless Man before, as she says, shit starts getting real. But either way, there is still the question of WHY? And, of course, what’s going to happen in a year?!
I AM SO CONFUSED ABOUT THIS WHOLE THING. DAMMIT LESLEY.
A couple more notes to tie things up before I sign off and go back to making grabbyhands at the next book:
I wish Dominic could stay around longer. He really won me over in this book and I’m going to be sad that he won’t be seen again. At least, I presume he won’t?
What is actually going to happen with the two Nicoles? I don’t recall that being resolved thanks to all the kerfuffle over having to rescue Peter. I assume Something Will Be Done, and perhaps it won’t really be important in the larger scheme of things here, but still. It’s niggling away at me. Consider this my mental note, filed away just in case.
Finally, because it bears repeating: Daaaaaamn, Beverley.
OK, I’m done now.