Book Review: “Beastly Bones” by William Ritter

Critics laud William Ritter’s Jackaby series as perfect for fans of Sherlock, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and Supernatural – and while that’s a tall order for any book, I’m happy to report that Jackaby and its sequel, Beastly Bones, more than fit the bill! If you haven’t read the first installment, I highly recommend you do so. Here’s the premise: Abigail Rook, daughter of an esteemed archaeologist, ran away from home to find her own adventure. And while things didn’t work out quite as planned, she eventually finds it in R.F. Jackaby, a Holmes-esque New England detective with a twist – he specializes in the paranormal. So if you haven’t read Jackaby, here’s your cue: Go read it! If you have read it, and are wondering how the sequel holds up, read on.

Beastly Bones picks up a few months after Jackaby left off. After the last near-miss, Abigail has finally convinced Jackaby to let her accompany him into the field again, just in time for their next big case: missing dinosaur bones and a mysterious death. A farmer in nearby Gad’s Valley (where Abigail’s shapeshifting police officer *cough-handsome-cough* friend Charlie has been exiled to) recently discovered an enormous dinosaur skeleton on his land, which means that in addition to solving a murder, Abigail also finally has the chance to follow in her father’s footsteps and do some serious science. Of course, Jackaby senses that there’s more at play than just your typical paleontology dig, something a bit more… magical.

This book is utterly charming, and a quick read to boot. Vivid characters like Jackaby’s resident moody ghost, Jenny, and Hank Hudson, a woodsman with an interest in extraordinary creatures (specifically, hunting and trapping them) who is kind of like a Republican Hagrid, make the story come alive. Indeed, Ritter wields a fine balance of wacky, eccentric, and magical that will appeal to fans of Doctor Who and Sherlock (as the dust jacket claims), but here we have no pale imitation of these mega-popular franchises. Instead, we have a lively re-imagining and re-combining of those series’ best features – mystery, wit, and a love of the unexplained.

Beastly Bones has already garnered rave reviews from around the book-loving world, and this review is another laurel in its crown, but I will admit that I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Jackaby. However, I think that might just be because I’m a *little* bitter about who survives this book (dun dun dun) and who doesn’t. It conclusion, it may not be too hard for readers to piece together the clues to the novel’s big plot twist, but it’s a fun ride nonetheless. You won’t be disappointed.

A copy of the book was provided by the publisher for review.