Thursday, December 10, 2015

REVIEW | YA FANTASY | Beastly Bones by William Ritter
Beastly Bones by William Ritter
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: YA, Historical Fantasy
Series:Jackaby #2
Awards: None
Format: eBook (from Library)
Narrator: NA

Why?: I absolutely adored the first book in this series, Jackaby, when I read it earlier this year.

Beastly Bones starts not too long after the end of Jackaby.  Abigail Rook is settling into her job as Jackaby's assistant and fellow investigator of the strange and supernatural in the town of New Fiddleham, New England.  In the small town of Gad's Valley a little way from New Fiddleham, Jackaby and Abigail are called upon to investigate dinosaur bones that are mysteriously disappearing.  Abigail's background in paleontology makes her gung ho to look into it, not to mention that it would mean a reunion with the the handsome policeman Charlie, but Jackaby isn't interested until a violent death in Gad's Valley displays a connection with a current case.

After my absolute gushing about Jackaby, this is going to be a comparatively lukewarm review but it was really a good follow up. However, I don't have too much to say about it.  If I have a complaint it is that it perhaps did not carry Abigail and Jackaby forward very much or develop them any further.  There are some interesting and mysterious changes with their ghostly land lady, Jenny but there is not a lot of time spent on that development in this installment. I predict it will be a major part of a future book.  Anyway, the minimal character development with the two leads is not a huge problem as they are both pretty charming, Jackaby in particular with all his Doctor Who/Sherlock Holmes tendencies.  He's one of those characters that appears completely out of touch with reality when in fact he often sees things in a much truer light than most other more "normal" people.  He's also very funny.  When I highlight quotes they are almost always his:

“So often,” Jackaby said, “people think that when we arrive at a crossroads, we can choose only one path, but—as I have often and articulately postulated—people are stupid. We’re not walking the path. We are the path. We are all of the roads and all of the intersections. Of course you can choose both.”
“Miss Rook,” he said, “the greatest figures in history are never the ones who avoid failure, but those who march chin-up through countless failures, one after the next, until they come upon the occasional victory.” He put a hand on my shoulder. “Failure is not the opposite of success—it’s a part of it.
"It is troubling to consider a criminal manufacturing paranormal mayhem. How long has he been at it? Did he orchestrate the reclusive redcap’s rise to become a predator in public office? Plant the swarm of brownies on the mayor’s lawn? Promote adoption of the Dewey decimal system in libraries across the continent? It’s the not knowing I find most irksome.” “The Dewey decimal system?” “It’s gaining popularity. I don’t trust it.”
I mean who does trust the Dewey Decimal System? of librarians. *Ahem* Another slight weakness of the book for me is that Jackaby does often feel a little sidelined and I wanted a little more of him. 

The story is a lot of fun especially for anyone who likes a bit of paleontology from time to time. It starts however with kittens that are morphing into fish. Interesting but not as compelling, for Abigail, as dinosaur bones.  Lucky for her, Jackaby finally agrees to leave the animorphs behind to go chase disappearing dinosaur bones and they find mysterious creatures lurking in the woods.  The books take place in the Victorian era when looking for dinosaur bones was quite the swashbuckling affair and this book provides us with two warring paleontologists as well as an eager and sassy reporter. The colorful cast serve to entertain and confuse the matter as Jackaby and Abigail try to figure out what is going on.  The eventual solution is pretty clever and comes with a dramatic show down.  What more can you ask for from a YA historical, supernatural mystery? 

FINAL VERDICT:  Beastly Bones didn't have quite the verve that Jackaby did but it's a good follow up and I still really enjoyed it.  This series is definitely installed as an auto read for me. 3 out of 5 stars.
Other Opinions: Kirkus Reviews | Mugglenet | The Novel Hermit | Books With Chemistry

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