Book Review: Beastly Bones by William Ritter

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Dear BBC America: If you have not yet begun production on your TV series adaptation of Jackaby by William Ritter, I implore you to do so now. If that first book was not enough to convince, then you need only look as far as its sequel, Beastly Bones, and you will surely be as convinced as I that these books are simply BEGGING to be adapted for television.


“I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.”

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.

Jackaby — aptly described as a mix between Sherlock and the Doctor — is in fine form with this sequel, which picks up nicely following the events of the first book. Fans will eagerly dive into his latest adventure with his assistant Abigail, as they find themselves on another mysterious and possibly magical case.

The tone and atmosphere of Ritter’s novels are immersive and delightful. The immediately transport the reader to New Fiddleham, with lush descriptive writing and engaging scenes. One of my favorite descriptive passages from Beastly Bones is such:

The black teeth of the tree line had swallowed the sun like a ripe grapefruit, and the seeping mess of red and orange had begun to spread across the sky.

How insanely gorgeous is that? The entire book is filled with similarly rich language, which evokes the perfect mood for Jackaby’s madcap — sometimes horrifying — adventures.

The characters we fell in love with in the first book are back, and we see wonderful continued development as they face new situations and challenges.

The world of Jackaby is one I could live in for a long time, and I hope Ritter is as eager to continue writing his adventures as I am eager to continue reading them. (And I do sincerely hope that BBC America could get on board with that TV series adaptation, because that would be really great, thanks.)

Beastly Bones is in stores September 22nd.

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