Review: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter

Ritter_BeastlyBones_jkt_COMP.indd“I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.”

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, a vicious species of shape-shifters 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.

There are a lot of reviews saying that this one wasn’t as good as the first one, but I read Jackaby two years ago and my memory is so lousy I honestly can’t remember all that much about it beyond a simple summary and a few fragments. But I do know that I enjoyed reading this on, which is really all that matters I suppose.

Beastly Bones is a really fun read. Pure escapism, this book is a wonderfully strange mix of fantasy and archaeology. While the first book was a cross between classic sleuthing and paranormal adventure, this one throws some science into the mix.The pacing is excellent and though the mystery isn’t super complex, the plot is intense and its undertows of urgency keep you turning pages until you reach the end.  Which is pretty awesome by the way – in a spectacular finish, most of the plot threads converge in one epic battle.

Like Jackaby, Beastly Bones continues to defy genre tropes and cliches: the creatures are not quite like anything I’ve read about before; unlike most YA, the romance is very minimal; and the plot is an unusual combination of fantasy, paranormal and mystery.

I  enjoyed the inclusion of archaeology and fossils as I found it immensely fascinating. The setting of Gad’s Valley is a perfect backdrop for the subtle spookiness and uncertainty of Beastly Bones. l also loved the new characters: Hank Hudson’s huge personality, the constant bickering between Owen Horner and Lewis Lamb, and the wonderfully daring and unflappable Nellie Fuller. Of course, you can’t forget about the eccentric Jackaby or the smart and stubborn Abigail, and the combinations of characters make for some awesome dialogue.

I also liked how a lot is set up for the third book, Ghostly Echoes, which, of course, I can’t wait to read. From the summary it seems like this one will continue the trend of unlikely mashups, with some folklore added in this time around. Plus, there will be a fourth and final novel, so it’s not a trilogy, but a quartet.





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