CW’s: Death/Murder, Slight Gore
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, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad’s Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.
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Abigail gets the space to explore more what she truly wants ➽ I loved how Abigail’s Arc is written in this book and how it touches upon the sexism she faces in society without being centered around that! We know she’s interested in geology and now with this case and the mysterious bones, she finally gets to visit a dig site, something she has dreamed of ever since her father ignited her passion for the subject. You could really see her love for the work and it was great that the book centered around her fulfilling a dream of hers. However, Abigail is also struggling with what to do about her feelings for Charlie and receives contradictory advice. Jenny is convinced that she needs to go for it and embrace her feelings, acting on them before it’s too late, but then her new friend Nellie warns her of the dangers of getting stuck as a wife to someone, especially when she wants her own career. Seeing these dynamics was super interesting as you can see why Jenny (who as a ghost doesn’t have the chance to act on what she wants) and Nellie (who is a reporter and faces opposition in a male-dominated field) have their different opinions on how to approach romance. In the end, I loved how Abigail needed to make her own decision and figure out what she wanted, instead of blindly following someone else’s advice!
Jackaby remains an enigma, he’s SO interesting as a character! ➽ The thing about Jackaby is that we barely know anything about him – something that Abigail remarks at the very beginning of the book – despite the fact that he’s often rambling about how he sees the world and the science and books he so enjoys. That’s what makes him so intriguing: we have no idea about his past or family, don’t even know his first name, and still have a lot to uncover about his Seer abilities. I loved learning a bit more about how he sees the world, as we got to find out e.g. how well he can read a personäs aura and that it’s almost impossible for it to change. Furthermore, he tells Abigail how he sleeps so little and often his plagued by nightmares … but then quickly changes the subject, which just shows that there is a lot of darker stuff that haunts him that he keeps locked inside. I’m definitely looking forward to learning more about him in each book and carefully peeling back the layers he has cemented around himself. Jackaby is definitely a very complex character with many different sides! ❤
The dynamic between our Detective Duo is still top-notch ➽ It’s so refreshing to see a friendship between a man and woman being purely platonic, as it’s very clear that Abigail is interested in Charlie and sees Jackaby as her boss and close friend. Abigail and Jackaby also make such a fantastic team and the more they work together, the more apparent it becomes that between her intuition and his Seer abilities, they can solve any mystery … though disasters are still happening. I also very much enjoyed Jackaby’s advice (see quote above) to Abigail about what direction her life should take. While Nellie and Jenny have her pulling herself in different directions, Jackaby trusts her own judgment and that just shows how he values her, even though he’s got a hard time showing it through emotions and they like 🥰
I was happy to see Charlie again and get some romantic tension ➽ Charlie’s now a policeman at Gad’s Valley after the disaster of the first book and I enjoyed seeing him again, as he’s such a soft boy! He’s trying to make a new life for himself here but still cannot let go of his moral compass telling him to get involved. I also very much liked the mutual pining between him and Abigail, they’ve got such a great dynamic and I’m definitely rooting for them! Jackaby and her are spending a lot of time investigating with him and also stay at his cabin for the duration of the case, prompting Abigail to consider her feelings for him and if she wants to act on them 💞
All in all, this was a great paranormal field trip ➽ This is giving off a lot of (BBC) Sherlock’s Hounds of Baskerville vibes (if you also love Sherlock please say hello 💕) in the sense that the main mystery moves out of New Fiddleham and into a new location: Gad’s Valley. It’s like a little field trip for Abigail and Jakaby who get called to investigate by their friend Charlie, who just relocated there and immediately got caught up in another series of murders. It took some getting used to the setting – especially with the archeology focus which I wasn’t familiar with – but I really enjoyed seeing our duo interact in a new environment and meeting new characters! There was time to talk about Abigail’s passion, explore new people, and see more interesting creatures. I liked how everything connected in the end and definitely enjoyed this little journey!
There are a lot of interesting new characters ➽ We spend the beginning of the book with the rest of Team Jackaby – Jenny the Ghost and Douglas the Duck – but once we reach Gad’s Valley it’s time to say hello to new characters. And let me tell you they are all excellent additions to the already existing character cast, I cannot wait to see more of some of them!
➽ My favorite has to be Hank Hudson, a hunter of the paranormal who’s an old friend of Jackaby with a keen interest in unusual animals. He’s the kind of bulky tall guy that might seem intimidating but is a big softie inside, my favorite kind of character 💕 Despite his questionable morals about keeping the extraordinary animals he finds caged, Hank has a good heart and later realizes some of his mistakes. I really hope to see him again in the next two books!!
➽ Horner and Lamb are two rival archeologists who both try to use the found bones to further their careers. Long in a fierce competition, both of them are not going to let the other one have such a groundbreaking find and constantly sabotage each other. I liked Horner a bit better because he’s much less uptight and doesn’t have any problem with letting Abigail on the side – he also values her input. However, he can just be as petty as his opposition, who tries to undermine him at every turn. In the end, their feud served more as the comedic relief and I was honestly all here for it 😄
➽ Nellie Fuller is a curious reporter who is trying to get an insight into the mysterious bones. She’s determined and not content on being pushed aside, something she demonstrates constantly. I liked getting a different perspective on a woman trying to ger her career started in a male-dominated field that still pushed women aside. Her interactions with Abigail were interesting and you can really see where Nellie comes from and how she has come to learn that romantic relationships hinder her more than help. She truly believes that she has to choose between career and love which is an unfortunate dilemma for many fellow women! [Mark to read spoilers] I was a bit sad that she died in the end. It was a brave act of sacrifice, but tbh one of the male characters could have done it as well. I was really looking forward to seeing more of her.
IN CONCLUSION. ➽ Beastly Bones is a worthy sequel to Jackaby and sends our characters on an assignment out of town investigating strange bones and deadly occurrences. Once again the dynamic between Jackaby and Abigail is on point and with many important discussions and lovable new characters this was a delight to read 💕
Have you read Beastly Bones? How did you like it? Who is your favorite character? 🦴