Published: September 22 2015
Number of pages: 291
Publisher: Alonquin Young Readers
Genre: fantasy, romance, supernatural
Rating: 1/5 owl hoot
Nothing is what it seems in New Fiddleham, not when there are unexplained occurrences that even the police force cannot make heads or tails of. When the supernatural are stirring up trouble in New Fiddleham, the eccentric RF Jackaby and his assistant Abigail Rook are called to investigate. First they encounter a strange species of shape shifters disguising themselves as a litter of kittens, then their owner is murdered, and then dinosaur bones from a recent dig site in Gad’s Valley disappeared. Soon Jackaby and Abigail are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer on the loose.
There is nothing worse than middle book syndrome when the characters are flat and there is no growth to the storyline, but what is worse is how after reading the first book, you think the series has a lot of potential the way the world and the characters are built. When the sequel comes out you get really excited to read more about the characters, hoping to see more potential. After reading the first five chapters, nothing new happens but then you hang on tight hoping the story will get better, but it doesn’t. Instead it becomes slow, flat, and just dull. That’s how I felt after reading Beastly Bones which hurt because I was so excited for this series after Jackaby.
I was so frustrated with the story that I started loosing interest in the end. The first half of the story was boring paleontology with a group of men who keep bickering about a bunch of bones they found and arguing who should claim ownership. The characters are the same: Abigail Rook is still the same prim, naïve, and note-taking assistant to her employer, Jackaby who is the same eccentric detective. I was hoping to learn more about his background, where he came from, how he came to be a detective, the basic who, what, when, why, and how. But I didn’t learn anything new about him which made me upset because I really wanted to know more about the man behind the ugly hat!
Then you have this annoying love story between Abigail and Charlie Cane. It was boy meets girl but neither of them knows how to make the first move so they become awkward with each other. And worse, it’s pretty obvious to the readers that Abigail really likes Charlie but can’t make up her mind if she wants to be the independent woman who refuses to be tied down with marriage, or if she should live happily ever after with the man she loves. I was tired of watching Abigail not making up her mind until she finally makes the right choice in the very end, I only wished it didn’t have to take her that long to find out what she wanted.
There was hardly an element of surprise except for the mythical creature, which I refuse to reveal to avoid spoilers but even that wasn’t enough to impress me. There was no back-story, rarely any romance, and the new characters were irritating, especially the reporter who I thought the story could do without because she hardly made a difference to the story at all except giving a brief lesson to Abigail on being her own woman, etc. Although the sequel did not impress me as I hoped, I’m still going to keep reading the series since I did enjoy reading the first book; I’m just hoping we will learn more about Jackaby in the next one.