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I just finished the (currently) last part of Ben Aaronovitch's PC Peter Grant series. At the end:

Victory (the mother of one of the abducted children) goes out into the woods to replace the just-replaced child with the one that was replaced earlier. Peter steps in, and exchanges himself for both children. Then, out of nowhere, Beverly comes and takes Peter back.

So, yes, it is somewhat confusing, and, it has to be said, relatively unsatisfying as far as endings and explanations go. I understand that Aaronovitch partly wants to keep up an air of mystery about how magic and magical creatures work, partly wants to set up future novels. But still, almost none of the final 2 or so chapters seem to make any sense in themselves:

Where did the second child that was originally replaced come from? Why did the queen want to switch them back now? If the queen wanted to switch them back, why would she sway Victoria to come switch them yet again? What did she even want with those children, given that she apparently did not care at all which human she got in the end? And if any human works, then why the heck is she keeping replacing them? How is this ending any solution, will she not just abduct the next child during the next moon phase?

I have the feeling that I am missing something here, probably because I don't know the fae lore well enough. Maybe somebody can enlighten me?

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  • It's been a while, but I can answer part of this. The second child : There are actually 3 children running through the plot here with the same father and different mothers. Two are human women and the "second child's" mother is the Queen. This being quite spoilerish I wonder if I should leave it up. Although with a title like "explain the end" you are probably forewarned.
    – Jontia
    Aug 28 '15 at 6:28
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Having recently re-read Foxglove Summer I feel more confident turning the previous comment into an answer.

Derek Lacey is a man with fidelity issues. At approximately the same time 11 years ago he fathered children with his wife, Victoria Lacey, their babysitter Joanne Marlow and the Fae Queen.

Hannah is the simple one, she's Joanne and Derek's child. Raised all her life by Joanne and her husband.

The child known as Nicole is the daughter of Derek and the Fae. She is the changeling baby swapped by Zoe for her real sister at a young age.

"Not-Nicole" is the daughter of Derek and Victoria. She's spent most of her life in the fae country and returns to Rushpool with Hannah half way through the book.

By the end of the book, Nicole and Hannah have been returned to the homes they were raised in and Not-Nicole has been sent to London to become part of Mama Thames' responsibility as there does not seem to be any other way to deal with a human child with significant fae adjacent powers probably not limited to the strong glamour ability demonstrated throughout the book.

It seems likely the Queen is only interested in children with some connection to her. Even if that connection is one step removed via the father of her own child. So the changes of the Fae abducting an arbitrary child at the next full moon seems slim.

The second thing restricting the activities of the Queen would appear to be their vulnerability to Iron and the existence of the Roman Road in both the real world and the Fearie Kingdom. The road provides an access route that is potentially vulnerable even to non-magical incursion. Which explains the care fae take when crossing it while moving Peter around. Beverly has demonstrated the damage she can cause quite conspicuously by simply showing up in a steam engine and every sign we've been given shows the reluctance of the fae to submit to a repeat engagement.

Whether The Folly, or the Rivers are capable of causing as much damage to the Fae in general as the rescue of Peter showed outside of those specific circumstances is left unclear to both the readers and the characters. Leaving us in an uneasy stalemate that may well contribute to future stories. The area is briefly touched upon in The Fey and the Furious. But it doesn't fully answer any of your questions.

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