After reading (and really enjoying) Jackaby by William Ritter, I was worried the second book in the series wouldn’t measure up. It turns out that worry was unfounded. Beastly Bones, our second outing with plucky Abigail Rook and her oddball employer R.F. Jackaby was as much fun as the first.
I appreciate the pacing of this series, and Ritter’s efforts to braid subplots from one book to the next. Abigail’s family background in paleontology – introduced in the first book – is revisited in a satisfying way. Other elements, such as the history of Jenny, the pair’s spectral landlady, slowly unfold and build momentum towards book three. While a lot of writers strive to create “jump in anywhere” series, I appreciate Ritter’s willingness to tell a serialized story with real character progression and continuity.
In Beastly Bones, Abigail and Jackaby leave New Fiddleham for the nearby village of Gad’s Valley, where Policeman Charlie Cane has resettled. A local farmer has uncovered what appears to be an intact dinosaur skeleton – but things aren’t exactly what they seem. Throw in a grizzled mountain man obsessed with mythical creatures (think Hagrid meets Davy Crockett), two adversarial archeologists, and a stubborn lady newspaper reporter, and you have the makings of another madcap magical mystery adventure.
As with the first book, the story takes some dark and bloody twists and turns. There’s dash of Sweeney Todd in this 19th century Scooby Doo – and the monsters aren’t just men in rubber masks. The story ends with the mystery solved, then promptly sets the stage for the third book, Ghostly Echoes. Which I plan to read as soon as it comes out in August.