Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publishing Date: September 22
Genre: young adult, fantasy, historical fiction, gothic, mystery
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.
Several weeks after Abigail Rook and her odd employer, detective of the supernatural R.F. Jackaby, solve a strange case, another bubbles underneath the surface. What appears to be kittens turns out to be shape-shifters, and the owner of these poor creatures turns up dead. Meanwhile, police detective Charlie Cane (now Barker) calls upon the duo to help solve a similar murder that occurred around a strange paleontology site on a farmer’s land. As Abigail and Jackaby hunt for a culprit, the finds of the dig soon take precedence and something much larger than they ever expected looms over the case.
At times Beastly Bones feels like it’s carrying three different mysteries — the strange kittens, the dig, the murders — when in reality, there are two. The first ties the seemingly three mysteries together, and the second involves Jenny, and what’s surely to come in Book Three, tying the three books together. (Ha! Didn’t know there was another mystery underneath in Jackaby, did you?)
The same wit, humor, and banter found in the first book is back again, only Jackaby takes a more introspective role and lets Abigail shine. She is especially involved in this case due to her background in paleontology. Only what she finds, she’s having trouble believing. Myth and fact collide, and even the famous scientists involved in the case are baffled. The scientists’ rivalry, coupled with an entertainingly forceful reporter, take over the humor end of the narrative, nearly distracting Abigail and Jackaby from the stakes.
Let’s just say… “Here, there be ___.” Beastly bones, indeed. But how are they tied to the murders (if they’re indeed tied at all)? Something strange is afoot, and that something links back to Abigail and Jackaby’s first case together. But why? And how?
If you think this wonderful genre-bender is going to be another standalone mystery, then you are wrong. In true Sherlockian fashion, Ritter brings the reader to an explosive ending that will make you want to reread Jackaby and Beastly Bones, because there’s a Moriarty lurking, and it will blow your mind.
Thank you, Algonquin, for providing this book at BEA for review!
This book fulfills 2 of 7 #ARCAugust reads.