British Fiction Focus

Metropolitan Monsters: Revealing The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

The Rivers of London series, in which a squad of sardonic detectives investigate supernatural offences in and around England’s capital city, has been a regular pleasure for many readers in recent years. Not necessarily because of its premise, which at this point is practically proverbial, but because Ben Aaronovitch’s execution of said has been exceptional: sensitive, smart, and supported by a sharp sense of humour that runs through the books like the Thames itself.

Hasn’t hurt that, up until recently, a new novel featuring PC Peter Grant and his fellows in The Folly has been released every year. But the break between book five, Foxglove Summer, and last year’s The Hanging Tree changed that pattern. Happily, however, there was still some Rivers of London fun to be had by way of the canonical comic book Body Work and its several successors, namely Night Witch and the ongoing Black Mould.

Alas, it looks like we might be in for a similarly painful wait between the recent release of The Hanging Tree and the seventh volume in Aaronovitch’s bestselling series, which has the working title Lies Sleeping. But unto every cloud a silver lining, right? Well, quite, as Gollancz has just announced The Furthest Station, a brand-new novella it plans to publish this very September.

There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there’s a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.

Enter PC Peter Grant, junior member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Assessment unit a.k.a. The Folly a.k.a. the only police officers whose official duties include ghost hunting. Together with Jaget Kumar, his counterpart at the British Transport Police, he must brave the terrifying the crush of London’s rush hour to find the source of the ghosts.

Joined by Peter’s wannabe wizard cousin, a preschool river god and Toby the ghost hunting dog, their investigation takes a darker tone as they realise that a real person’s life might just be on the line.

And time is running out to save them.

the-furthest-station-by-ben-aaronovitch

“This is my first novella and I suddenly understood the appeal of the form to both writers and readers,” Aaronovitch said. “Novellas allow you to tell a story in a very elegant, streamlined fashion. Something you can read quickly but without feeling cheated at the end. I may write more.”

Promises, promises!

While we in the UK will have to wait till September to get our hands on Gollancz’s publication of The Furthest Station, in the States it’ll be available somewhat sooner—in June—as a limited and a lettered edition from the fine folks at Subterranean Press. But hey, where there’s a will there’s a way, eh?

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and Tor.com. He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.

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