Cover Image: The Diabolical Bones

The Diabolical Bones

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Member Reviews

I love the first Bronte Mysteries book, The Vanished Bride, so was thrilled to receive a copy of The Diabolical Bones through Netgalley.

And I think this is even better than the first one.

The Bronte Sisters really come alive as the fight the bitter Yorkshire weather and try to unravel the complex and sinister story behind the bones found at Top Withins.

Their different personalities are developed in this book as the bicker and squabble, tease and support each other. They each have different strengths and bring their own skills and observations to the investigation.

The story is utterly compelling with so many layers as the darkness behind the tragedy is revealed.

Like the work of the Brontes themselves, the Yorkshire landscape is central to the story. This investigation inspires Emily and there is a very Wuthering Heightsy feeling to parts of the story. There’s lots of local folklore and traditions, witchcraft and superstitions.

This is a great read and a great series. I already can’t wait for the next one!

Thank you Netgalley for the gifted copy in return for an honest review.
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Is there a better idea for a book series than getting the Bronte sisters to chase around Yorkshire solving seemingly unsolvable mysteries? I don’t think so! I read the first book in Bella Ellis’s series, The Vanished Bride, earlier this month and really enjoyed it, so I was incredibly excited to read this second instalment, The Diabolical Bones.

When a child’s skeleton is found hidden in the walls of a local house, the Brontes are keen to try and crack the case. But when another local child goes missing, solving the mystery becomes more urgent than ever, their investigations putting the sisters in terrible danger. Will they find the culprit before it’s too late?

These books are cosy, gothic historical mysteries. I absolutely love the way they are written, with a lot of wry humour and a feminist edge. The insight into the differing characters of the Brontes is also completely fascinating.

This particular mystery drew me in from the outset. Anything involving missing children and I HAVE to find out what’s happened. But it’s Bella Ellis’s impeccable storytelling ability that makes this book really stand out. I was so happy to find out that there will be more Bronte mysteries – sign me up!

With thanks to Hodder for gifting me a digital review copy.
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I really enjoyed the first book in the series so was looking forward to this new Brontë adventure. You don’t need to have read or know anything about the sister to enjoy these books. I liked the little references to the Brontë’s books scattered throughout though. This is a darker read than The Vanishing Bride and even better. The world created in the book for the sisters and Branwell is well written and completely believable, the author does a great job of bringing it to life. I love the relationship between the sisters. A dark, Gothic atmosphere runs through the whole book. This is an excellent read.
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If you’ve never read a novel by one of the Brontë sisters, it doesn’t matter. There is plenty to enjoy about the Brontë Mysteries by Bella Ellis without figuring out the innumerable references to ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. ‘The Diabolical Bones’ is second in the crime series after the impressive first, ‘The Vanished Bride’. This one is better, and darker.
When bones are found interred in the walls of a local house on the moor, the three detecting sisters and reluctant brother Branwell set out to confirm the child’s identity so it can be respectfully buried. There are few clues; the location of the find, the father and son who live in the house, the age of the child, and a medallion found with the bones. Top Withens, the remote house concerned, is said to be Emily’s inspiration for the house of the Earnshaw family, Wuthering Heights. 
Ellis has constructed a convincing world for the sisters; the parsonage, their blind father, housekeeper Tabby, the villagers in Haworth and wider circle of acquaintances. The charm of this portrayal of the Brontës is the strength of the series. Branwell’s presence is key as in 1852, lone women could not venture out as the sisters do here without the company of a man. The portrayal of the sisters is fascinating, the dynamic between the three, the shared history and understanding of each other, the irritations and the love, their intellectual capabilities, their doubts and bravery. Each has differing strengths which lend weight to the investigations. Emily is impulsive and inspired, Anne is calm and logical, Charlotte is clever but insecure. As Anne says, ‘Detecting does seem to involve a great deal of time looking for something that might not exist.’
It is winter and freezing cold and as the sisters wrap themselves in cloaks to adventure outdoors, the atmosphere is dark and Gothic. Social issues are addressed; the exploitation of orphan children, the plight of urban and rural poor, the prejudice against Irish immigrants, the privilege of wealth.
Of course, the reward when reading crime novels is to spot the murderer early in the tale. I admit to thinking ‘surely it’s not…’ This plot is well constructed; read it and see if you spot any early clues. The story skips along at a fair pace and when I put the book down, I was always longing to read just another chapter. 
The series is fast becoming a favourite. Brilliant escapism.
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Thank you to Netgalley, Bella Ellis & Hodder & Stoughton for my arc of The Diabolical Bones in exchange for an honest review. 

Publication date: 5th November 2020 

This is the second book in Bella Ellis' The Brontë Mysteries series which sees the three Brontë sisters we all know and love, turning 'lady detectors' and solving mysteries across Yorkshire. 

I think Bella Ellis captures the characters of Charlotte, Emily and Ann so well. She cleverly creates their personalities so that the reader has an understanding of how each could be led to write their most famous novels and keeps the wonderful historical setting well. She really captures the moors and setting of Haworth (I've been there irl so I can definitely vouch for that), while creating a mystery and putting her own twist on it. Not an easy feat when remaining historically accurate to a time when it was definitely not acceptable for women to be off 'detecting'. 

The writing flows well and the mystery keeps you turning the pages. I'm really enjoying this series of books and can't wait for the next instalment!
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A splendid adventure indeed. Bronte lovers are sure to find this book as a warm reminder of all the wonderfully written fiction of the bronte sisters. Definitely recommend.
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I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and I am so pleased that the love that Bella Ellis has for the Bronte sisters adds similar magic to this second instalment.  Once again we are allowed to share in the minutiae of the sister's daily lives, experience their family dynamic and listen in to their conversations, all of which adds a wonderful depth to the book. 
Once again the plot pays homage to a wonderful gothic mystery. It is cram-packed with nefarious aristocratic members, secret lovers, family secrets and the desire to be a member of the ruling class.   The setting celebrates the beauty of the Yorkshire Moors, but never at the expense of ignoring the hardships faced during the harsh winter months. The descriptions of the frozen, snow-laden landscapes had me reaching for an extra blanket as I read long into the night. Again, this is all achieved with such a light touch, that these details only serve to enhance the story. 

My thanks go to the publishers and Net Galley for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.
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4.5 of 5 stars
My Five Word TL:DR Review : A thoroughly enjoyable period mystery.

I simply couldn’t resist requesting a copy of the Diabolical Bones – the Bronte sisters turn detective – and I’m so happy that I was approved because this was just the book I needed.  A real pick me up or tonic to get me out of a reading funk.  Just to be clear though – this is a murder mystery so although very gentle, charming even, there is a body – in fact a skeleton, uncovered behind a chimney breast and talk of a man who sold his soul to the devil.

For this particular review I’m not going to overly discuss the plot but instead talk about all the other elements that I enjoyed so much.  The plot itself starts with the discovery of a child’s bones within the chimney breast of Scartop House, a farm belonging to the Bradshaws and from there it becomes a sinister tale with the sisters seeking counsel from ‘seers’, spinsters and a poorly run orphanage.

Firstly, the period and setting.  Ellis has managed to easily portray the village and home where the Brontes live with the moors on their very doorstep.  I love books set during the Victorian period and this is no exception.  The author manages to write in a style that is reminiscent of the era and the sensibilities of the period whilst at the same time giving the story a more modern and accessible feel.  The setting itself is bursting at the seams with gothic delight and the winter setting and furious cold of the moors only adds to this.

Secondly, the family itself.  I loved the way the author depicts the Bronte family.  Their love and care for each other is apparent, even if they have small differences, their affection is still very prominent.  The girls were well educated and brimming over with imagination and enthusiasm for the literary world.  Charlotte seemed to be the driving force behind their publication, Emily seemed to be almost indifferent to success and Anne seemed to fulfill the role of the glue that holds them together.  Bradwell also plays a role here although he seems to be already suffering from despair and a reliance on alcohol.  What comes across abundantly is the author’s love for this family and their literary works.

The story is really well drawn.  Obviously, given the period the three sisters are inhibited by certain protocols but they often get around such inconveniences by having their brother accompany them on their missions.  On top of that the plot is suitably macabre, there is considerable fear on the part of the sisters, particularly Charlotte, who fears what they’re getting themselves into, and also there’s the brutality of certain suspects.  Always, there’s the atmosphere surrounding the places visited during the girl’s investigations.  The places are well described, often barren or remote, cold or harsh with little by way of comfort.  Times were hard and this comes across well here and the tone is reflective of the sisters’ own works.

The other thing that I absolutely loved were the references to the Bronte’s work – and by that, I don’t mean that the author directly references their stories because of course at the time depicted they weren’t published – more that she uses this story to show some of the inspiration that they drew upon with their own writing, and of course whilst this is a fictional account it comes across as plausible which adds a certain gravitas to the book.  I would add though, for clarity, I don’t think you need to have read the Brontes to enjoy this novel (although I obviously recommend you do so).  I think this would still read very well without any prior knowledge.

In terms of criticism.  Well, much like the Brontes, Ellis has gone for a dramatic, almost over the top style with a villain that is suitably disturbed and perhaps a little easy to spot.  I don’t particularly see this as a problem as there are red herrings along the way to muddy the waters.  Other than that I have nothing more to add.

I really enjoyed this and I would love to read more adventures from the Bronte sisters and their family.  This is very light on fantasy and more falling on the side of murder mystery but there are some rather creepy visits to the Haworth cemetery and a ghostly visitation.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.
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I love the Brontes so this was just up my street.  This book has clearly been well researched and it so beautifully written.  I loved the description of the Yorkshire moors which was captivating.  Brilliant read.
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The sisters are once again back investigating a mystery. This time its bones found in an old house. Locked away for years but possibly linked to dark magic. Can they work out who was encased in the wall and how they got there. Is there a murder in their midst or worse a monster?

This is the second book of th Bronte sisters and another good read. The mystery was clever and had me guessing until close to the end when I figured it out. I love the atmosphere that's created though the book. The plot is steady and builds to a brilliant conclusion. The writing is well done and so decriptive. You can easily picture the wildness of the location. A brilliant thriller with dark themes. I love the Bronte sisters so this just gives more depth to them and I'm really starting to like Bramwell too. Great read.
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My thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Diabolical Bones’ by Bella Ellis in exchange for an honest review.

This is the second in Ellis’ series of historical mysteries featuring the Brontë sisters undertaking some amateur detecting. While I haven’t yet read ‘The Vanished Bride’, this didn’t prove a problem.

It is Christmas 1845 and Haworth is in the grip of a freezing winter. Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë are losing interest in detecting until they hear of a shocking discovery: the bones of a child have been found interred within the walls of a local house, Top Withens Hall, home to the scandalous and brutish Bradshaw family. 

So the plucky sisters decide not only to arrange a Christian burial for the child but to discover how he came to be interred there. What follows is an increasingly complex and sinister case. 

I am not that familiar with the lives of the Brontë
sisters and their brother, Branwell, yet others with more knowledge have praised Ellis for her research and faithfulness to the details of their lives. Still I was able to recognise that she had created a believable setting that included the etiquette and sensibilities of the period and also incorporated various social issues into the narrative. 

Also, the story progresses at a pace that is in keeping with its period setting and I quickly found myself transported to the wintery moors alongside the sisters.

I enjoyed this Gothic whodunnit very much and will be looking forward to future cases for the Brontës as well as catching up on the first in the series.

Highly recommended.
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I loved the first book and now I love this more! It's a gothic mystery, that's really fun to read. Gripping and perfect for the time of the year. Highly recommended.
Thanks a lot to NG and the publisher for this copy.
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I love The Vanished Bride and I loved this story.
It's even better than the first one, a gothic mystery that kept me hooked and guessing.
The character development is excellent and I loved the dialogues, witty and realistic.
The mystery is solid, full of twists and turns.
I loved every moment of this book and can't wait to read the next.
Highly entertaining and gripping, it's strongly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I was a huge fan of the first book in this series so I was incredibly excited to read the next installment. Once again the author has written an intriguing and absorbing read which will be great to curl up with on a cold night.

Firstly I know from social media that this author is a huge fan of the Brontë Sisters and this is very much in evidence throughout this book. I love that each sister has been given their own personality which makes them seem very realistic. They are all so different to each other and they all bringing different skills to the investigation which I thought was very clever.

The actual investigation was very interesting and I enjoyed trying to solve the case alongside the sisters. I’m a huge fan of big old houses hiding lots of secrets so this book instantly appears to me. The plot unfolds at a great pace and I liked that all the discoveries seemed natural rather than forced.

The author manages to set the scene in this novel perfectly and I loved all the bleak descriptions of the famous moors. Some of the Victorian attitudes about class, sex, religion and politics were also included into the plot too making me feel transported to Victorian Britain. It was quite sad to see these attitudes at times and I often felt quite emotional whilst reading.

Overall I really enjoyed this well written, fun and intriguing book. It was fantastic to follow the Brontë Sisters on their investigation and I now can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Huge thanks to Steven from Hodder books for my copy of this book and for inviting me onto the blog tour. More Brontë Mysteries please!
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I enjoyed the first in the series and was looking forward to this too. I very much enjoyed the interaction between the Bronte family members, and seeing where the inspiration came from for their own novels, but somehow the mystery fell a little short for me. Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.
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I enjoyed the first Bronte Sisters Mystery so I was looking forward to this and it exceeded my expectations! For fans of the Bronte sisters, its a thrilling delight to delve into this imagined world in which they were detectives, and I love how carefully Bella Ellis draws on their works to retroactively suggest that some of their inspirations came from these detections. The subtle links to their works are a joy to discover, and spending time with them as fictional characters only makes me love them more as the inspirational figures they already are. 

Even if you're not a fan of the Bronte's I think this still stands as a fantastic historical mystery, it addresses many issues that are still relevant today, the treatment of refugees and immigrants, the cruelty of a world that allows children to go hungry, the barriers faced by women, and still manages to create a plot full of mystery, drama, horror and suspense. The atmosphere is phenomenal and Bella Ellis's writing is beautiful. I throughly recommend this. 

My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the e-ARC of this in exchange for my honest review
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Another atmospheric entry in this new (cosyish?) mystery series featuring the Bronte sisters. This time, a set of bones has been found bricked up in a chimney breast in a nearby farmhouse.

Their housekeeper Tabby is convinced they're a bad omen. That the farmhouse's owner sold his soul to the devil for great riches...

The sisters are intrigued and set forth to find out the truth. Once again the author does a great job of bringing the Bronte family and the Yorkshire Moors to life. These books aren't pageturners for me in the same way as contemporary suspense stories often are, but rather a comforting distraction from real life. 

Take your time reading and enjoy your journey to the past.
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This is the second book in the series - the first book had me hooked so I was overjoyed to be approved for this one. 

The Bronte sisters are still pursuing their literary career, their brother Bradwell is still mired in sadness (but maybe we can see an end in sight?), when they once again find themselves involved in a murder. 

I think I enjoyed this more than the previous book, purely because I know the characters now, and I know that I really enjoy the authors style of writing. I have to say that I didn’t see the end of this story coming until the very very last moment!

This most definitely is a series I’m going to keep an eye out for, fantastic thank you!

My thanks to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
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My first visit to the Haworth Parsonage and the Bronte sisters, and definitely not my last. 
This is a fascinating story of the Bronte's family life, and the descriptions of the Moors, the weather and other settings, such as the graveyard and orphanage, add to the unsettling atmosphere that surrounds the mystery the sisters must solve. 
A clever mix of gothic historical fiction and murder mystery, the writing merges fact and fiction into the history of the Bronte sisters lives.
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I found this book to be much darker than the previous Bronte mystery by Bella Ellis.  The story is fast moving and very well plotted.  The author has made the events seem real by putting in names and places that the sisters would have used in their work.  I would recommend this book - especially to a Brontë lover as it is intriguing and unusual.
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