First Line: Charlotte could not conceive of a place more beautiful than Haworth and the surrounding countryside in spring.
I fell under the spell of the first Brontë Sisters mystery, The Vanished Bride, and it didn't take long for a repeat performance with this second book, The Diabolical Bones. I am very well acquainted with the Brontës, their writings, and the Haworth area, and author Bella Ellis does a phenomenal job of bringing both the times, the physical setting, and the characters to life. If you love being immersed in an historical mystery, this is the one for you-- and you don't even have to be a Brontë fan to enjoy yourself.
The book begins with one of Emily's poems, a perfect choice for the weather in The Diabolical Bones, then moves swiftly to sole survivor Charlotte thinking back on this particular investigation, which gives it a bittersweet start. You might want to wrap up for an Arctic expedition when you read this book, because the sisters walk for miles and miles and miles in bitter cold, biting winds, and deep snows. You're also going to be picking up interesting little nuggets of information about why yew trees are usually found in English graveyards, the Pendle witches, and villagers' attitudes towards Christianity and the "old stories" and superstitions.
Do you know why so many people in the small towns and villages were both so religious and so superstitious? Seems like a contradiction, doesn't it? Well, they thought of it as wearing your "belts and braces (suspenders)": Christianity was your belt, and the old stories and superstitions were your braces. You needed both to survive a world that often seemed to be dead set against you.
One oddly worded sentence in The Diabolical Bones told me who the villain was, but that did not take away any of my enjoyment of this book, and it's not all serious business. The loving relationship the sisters have. Their camaraderie. Their stealing lines from each other for their writing. It's all pitch-perfect enjoyment that I highly recommend.
One note on the cover used. This is the UK cover, and today is the UK release date of this book. Publishers have been playing musical chairs with release dates the past few months, and this second Brontë Sisters mystery is now set to be released in February 2021 here in the US. I decided to review it now because who doesn't need to be told about good books to read? But don't worry-- I'll remind you again in February!