ARC Review: Beastly Bones - William Ritter
Series: Jackaby #2
Genre: YA, historical fantasy, mystery
Published on September 22, 2015
Published by Algonquin
Read From: 5.1.15 - 5.3.15
In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural.
First, shape-shifters from a particularly vicious species disguise themselves as a litter of kittens, and a day later, their owner is found murdered with a single mysterious puncture wound. Then, in nearby Gad's Valley, now home to the exiled New Fiddleham police detective Charlie Cane, dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Charlie calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.
Dear Beastly Bones,
Perhaps I was biased when I picked you up. I mean, I loved your first book - Jackaby - so much; I knew there was no way I was going to dislike you. I’ve been hungry for more Jackaby and Abigail ever since I finished Book #1, and so it was with eager hands and bated breath that I picked you up. And, Beastly Bones, I was the furthest thing from disappointed.
Abigail Rook continues on as the investigative assistant of idiosyncratic supernatural detective R. F. Jackaby. Together, they scour New Fiddleham, New England for the unexplainable and right supernatural and magical wrongs. Their latest case is the mysterious disappearance of someone’s cat and her remaining kittens which are looking suspiciously fishy. But then Abigail and Jackaby receive a letter from Charlie Cane, the recently exiled policeman and werewolf, about some dinosaur bones that have gone mysteriously missing. Jackaby and Abigail are soon caught up in a wild investigation involving shape-shifting carnivorous creatures, a possibly resurrected dinosaur, two rival archaeologists, and brutal murders. In other words, just another day on the field with R. F. Jackaby.
I can’t say much else about Abigail, Jackaby, and Charlie that I haven’t said already. Abigail is sensible and tough and cheeky and everything that I like in a female protagonist - especially a Victorian era female protagonist. She craves adventure and to prove to herself that she can do what people don't expect - but she has no feminist attitude or chip on her shoulder. She’s still true to her time period. Jackaby is all levels of awesome, with Sherlock’s brilliance and the Doctor’s energy and good cheer. He’s a figure of great mystery still, but we wouldn’t have him any other way. I want to keep Charlie; he’s so sweet and kind and wonderful. The romance between him and Abigail is gradual and sweet - I loved it. And of course, Jackaby’s other live-ins - Jenny the ghost and Douglas the former investigative assistant who got turned into a mallard duck. We get a further glimpse into Jenny’s past, and there’s a promise of even more revelation in the next book. I can’t wait! There are a few new characters: the charming archaeologist Owen Horner and his rival Lewis Lamb; Nellie Fuller, the sassy, smart, devil-take-you journalist who’s always looking for an interesting story; and Hudson, a trapper and collector of odd animals - and one of Jackaby’s old friends. I loved them all. They were bursting with personality and backstory and added so much to the story.
Just like Jackaby, your plot doesn’t slacken at all. Again, maybe I’m bias and just love anything and everything in this world, but I loved all of the world building and the lore and legends, and I was swept up immediately by the mystery. Who was stealing dinosaur bones and why? What was murdering people and slaughtering farm animals? Was it connected and how? While the mystery in Jackaby was a little easier to solve on my own, this one was a bit more complicated. And it’s not totally solved in the end. There promises to be a continuation; smaller pieces to a bigger puzzle were laid out in you, Beastly Bones, and maybe we’ll be getting our very own supernatural Moriarty/Master!
The climax was as crazy and impossible and awesome as one might expect it to be. And I’m thrilled about the foreshadowing for Book #3. I knew you wouldn’t disappoint, Beastly Bones. With Jackaby and Abigail as our protagonists, there’s just no way you could. Your writing is spot on and very Victorianesque, and you are just as quotable as your predecessor. I cannot wait until Book #3!
~ Mara A. ~
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