I managed to find a copy of the second installment of the Jackaby series!
Summary: 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.
Story: 3.5/5: Technically speaking, this is the better plot when compared to the first Jackaby novel. It’s more complex and detailed. But personally speaking, I didn’t enjoy it as much. Maybe it was the setting? Maybe it was the fact that I found the Jenny sub plot more interesting than the main plot? Anyway, this starts as being really slow. I wasn’t getting into it for a while. But let me say, that when the story gets going, it really gets going.
Writing: 4/5: The writing was still very good. It was still compulsively readable, and while the monster may have been considerably more well known than the previous one, it was still a fresh take on a much beloved creature.
Characters: 3.5/5: The characters were still good and compelling, but there were some problems. First off, there wasn’t enough Jackaby in this novel. I understand that Abigail is the main character, but Jackaby is the most interesting and compelling character, so we need more of him. Abigail has improved though. She’s had some obvious development since the last book. She’s sharp and witty, and is more more relevant in this book than the last. But again, I wanted to see more of Jenny and Douglas! They are very intriguing characters we don’t know a lot about. And some characters introduced in Gad’s Valley, (like Nellie) I couldn’t quite get emotionally attached to.
Details: 4/5: I think the fact that the monster they used in this book was one I actually knew helped a little. While I would love to see creatures I know very little of, the fact that the monster in this was so famous made me appreciate the interesting portrayal a little more. Let’s just say it was a unique take on a well known creature.
World Building: 4.5/5: This was still the best part of the book. Gad’s Valley felt like it could’ve been real. This does tie into the details aspect, but I could see how the creatures would interact in this sleepy, rural small town. It gave off quite a different vibe than New Fiddleham. Overall, this is still a series where I half expect a Dullahan to make an appearance. (Does anyone get my reference?)
- Fresh take on a well known monster: I think everyone knows the monster in this book, but the twists and turns involving it were very fresh. Its design was different too!
- More complex plot: This was definitely more complex than the first book. There were more twists and turns, and it also explored the world of paleontology in a time much different than ours.
- More involved lead: In the last book, Abigail served as more of a window into a strange world than anything else. But in this one, she was much more relevant and hands-on, often discovering more plot points and generally being more active than in the first book, which is definitely a sign of character development.
- Slow: Unlike the last one, Beastly Bones didn’t feel rushed. It had the opposite problem; it was very slow in the beginning. Although it was relevant, it could’ve been more interesting.
- Not enough sleuthing: I think this is the main reason I didn’t enjoy the story as much as the last. The first book felt way more mysterious, but this one…I’m not sure I would label it as a mystery, exactly. I mean, yes, there were murders, but there wasn’t enough detective work for me.
- I don’t know how to phrase this, but there were new characters introduced that I never got really attached to, like Hank and Nellie. So whenever something bad happened to them, I couldn’t get really upset or as worried as the leads were.
Rating: This is a tricky one to grade, as my objective grading would be 4/5, like the last one, due to a better plot. But personally, I preferred the previous story more due to the sleuthing and detective work. So my subjective grade is a 3.5/5. I didn’t like it as much as the first one, but it was still a good, fun read, and I look forward to reading Ghostly Echoes.