Cover Image: The Diabolical Bones

The Diabolical Bones

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Member Reviews

This is the second in the fun gothic idea of having the famous Bronte sisters in Haworth Parsonage become detective (or detectors as they like to call themselves) for the police and even Sherlock Holmes was at this time still an idea for another writer!
It sets a scene in typical Bronte style with a dark night, snow swept moors and three sisters sheltering in the front room of the Haworth Parsonage when news of a dreadful find is raised.  Soon the site of the small and tragic skeleton of a tiny child is discovered to be Top Withens and those familiar with Emily's famous 'Wuthering Heights' will not be disappointed to find that the surly owner bears more than a passing resemblance to Heathcliff. So there will of course be a Cathy? Well there will but the unravelling of other characters give a great plot lots of red herrings - although I did guess the murderer quite early on but it certainly didn't spoil the read.
Other famous names abound like Grace Poole and although it is a child that has been locked away in a room there is also madness. There is also a great line in gothic horror and a link to witchcraft. Yorkshire's next door neighbour Lancashire of course was the site of the Pendle witch trials and the ideas of spells, folklore and sacrifices are wound around the tale really well.
Some may scoff at this smash up between the great literary women becoming (as I alluded to in my review of the first novel) a Victorian Charlie's Angels detecting trio but I like the books and this is no worse (and often a lot better) than many attempts at putting Jane Austen or her characters into some often ludicrous modern settings in books.  I also like the way both Branwell and Papa (the Rev Bronte) are brought into the plot. Branwell is sympathetically included in the journey with his sisters and to end the novel at Christmas can only give all readers a huge warm feeling of family nostalgia for this group in a Yorkshire village who still have the power to engage us into their adventures.
The author has done her research and included some other interesting characters from real life in Haworth. I can recommend it now for a dark cold wintry evening.  Just beware the ghosts of those departed souls.....
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Another engaging mystery story filled with intrigue and period drama. The feel of the Brontë family is lovely and makes the most unlikely of fictional circumstances seem somewhat believable.
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A delightful read. I was slightly sceptical at first, because recreating the Bronte sisters seemed no small feat of writing, but I was really impressed. The girls are captured perfectly, and their talent as sleuths is excellent. I loved their dialogue, and there were several moments where I laughed out loud due to their wit. These characters are brilliantly captured, and I would have followed them anywhere. Tabby is also a wonderful creation, and so excellently in keeping with the time period.

The story itself is excellent, and very addictive. I loved following the girls to discover the ‘monster’ who had killed the child, and I definitely didn’t predict the culprit! I’ve just ordered the first book in the series, because I’m slightly addicted now.
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In this book the Brontes, and all of Howarth, are shocked to hear that the skeletal remains of a child have been discovered hidden away at Top Withens farm, hidden since the tragic death of Mary Bradshaw over a decade ago. Widower Clifton Bradshaw, still apparntly tortured by grief, is threatening to keep hold of the bones so the sisters and Branwell brave terrible winter weather to remove the remains and give them a decent burial. The bones appear to be those of a malnourished child in its early teens, a strange medal found suggests they were left there around the time of Mrs Bradshaw’s death and arcane symbols on the bricks used to wall them up suggest some connection to dark arts and ancient magics. The Brontes, using their wits, courage and determination and the local folk-lore handed down to them by the wonderful Tabby, set about solving the mystery even when it leads to terrible danger.

A fabulous series in which events seem to suggest the girl’s future novels (so many Wuthering Heights hints here I could hear Kate Bush warbling away the whole way through!) but also to shed light on the reality of life in the Victorian era. Poverty, anti-Irish sentiment, the terrible conditions for orphans combined with the kind of Gothic storytelling popular at that time makes this a clever and interesting read for anyone who enjoys historical crime, the Brontes or just a great story…
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If you are a Bronte fan, like myself then you should like "The Diabolical Bones" by Bella Ellis.  Set at the time when the Bronte sisters are awaiting news as to whether their poems will be published, the events of this book prove a welcome distraction.

Bronte sisters are detectives!  It does sound a little strange but Ellis cleverly uses scenarios from the sisters' novels and weaves them into "real life".  It is very much reverse psychology, clever.

It's a fun book, full of atmosphere and I'd be looking to read more in this series... would love to see a television adaptation too!
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Every bit as good, if not better than The Vanished Bride, this second mystery solved by the Bronte siblings is a pure delight.  Quite dark, concerning child exploitation and racism, the tale is full of twists and red herrings and Charlotte, Emily and Anne have to be at their bravest and most determined to solve the crime. The moors play a central part, brooding and captivating, and everyone has their secrets that they hold close.  But it is the relationship between the three girls and their troubled brother, Branwell, that is the true gem of this book, like being with living Brontes for a while and enjoying their company.
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This really is a magical addition to what I just know is going to be a good series. The Bronte Sisters and their brother Branwell are investigating the death of a child at the infamous Top Withens. We follow them on the trail to the truth and there are some great red herrings and twists which I think Charlotte and the sister would have been proud of.

A gripping tale and I just love the idea of the Bronte sisters investigating like this. Yorkshire as a setting is pure magic and with the snow and the added chills, this is perfect

A great present if you want a chilly Christmas!
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I absolutely loved The Vanished Bride and was delighted to be invited to review the second of the Brontë mysteries – The Diabolical Bones – via Netgalley ahead of its publication in November.

The mystery here begins with the bones of a child found in the chimney of Withens Hall.  It’s a dark and disturbing beginning that brilliantly sets the tone for the rest of the novel. The sisters Brontë are immediately intrigued, and, buoyed by the success of their previous efforts in detecting, they travel to Withens Hall to claim the bones on the premise of giving the poor child a decent, Christian burial, but also so that they can begin to investigate, seeking clues in Withens Hall and the Bradshaw family, but also in the bones themselves, looking for hints that may reveal something of the child’s identity.  I liked that the mystery in this novel is very different to that of The Vanished Bride, yet one that is equally puzzling.  It seems an impossible task to identify a child with so little to go on, and yet the sisters aren't daunted and are more than ready to step up to the challenge.

The sisters Brontë are once again a joy to read.  I love the individuality that Ellis has created through their differing personalities – Emily once again was my firm favourite of three – and their disregard for matters of propriety, to which they pay lip service when it suits them, confident in their abilities and purpose.  Through the relationship between the sisters, Ellis adds little touches of light-heartedness throughout the narrative, as it’s not uncommon for some good-natured banter between them, with two usually siding against the third, allegiances shifting constantly.  Their brother, Branwell, also adds a touch of comedy when he tries to temper their enthusiasm, more concerned than they are for what is seemly, usually to be summarily ignored by the sisters.

Their investigation into the child’s identity and how the remains came to be in the chimney at Withens Hall has them traipsing all over Yorkshire, slowly piecing together the clues that they come across and making use of a variety of sources.  It works really well, and I found the narrative to be gripping throughout. I did feel a little let down by the ending, although it may be that the particular style of twist used here just isn't to my taste. I'd encourage you to read it – particularly if you enjoyed The Vanished Bride – and judge for yourself.

The Diabolical Bones is an enjoyable novel with an intriguing mystery at its heart, and I hope that there’s another instalment to come – I thoroughly enjoy seeing the Brontë sisters brought to life in this way. 

The Diabolical Bones will be published on 5 November by Hodder & Stoughton.  Many thanks to the publisher for the opportunity to read and review the novel ahead of publication.
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Having enjoyed, “The Vanished Bride,” the first in this series, I was really looking forward to the sequel and I delighted to say it is every bit as good as the first.

It is December, 1845, and Yorkshire is in the grip of winter.   One of the excellent things about this series, is not only how well the Bronte family are depicted so realistically, but the period and place are also vividly portrayed.   In the isolated Top Withins Hall, the bones of a boy are discovered hidden in a room locked once the mistress of the house had died. Hearing that the master of the house is refusing to hand over the bones, the Bronte sisters march through the chill to confront him.  

Having decided they could be ‘detectors,’ the Bronte sisters are now determined to give the bones a burial and a name.   In doing so, they visit Celia, a character from the previous novel, as well as making new acquaintances.  

Again, there are hints of inspiration for Bronte novels, as well as the considerable issue of Branwell; still languishing in self-pity and drink.   The novel also explores issues from that period, including the treatment of the Irish (both the Brontes and myself share an Irish heritage), mob justice and the way orphaned children were misused for labour.   

In true Bronte fashion, this is not a light-hearted mystery, but you feel the dark, glowering clouds, the poverty, the isolation and the desolation of the moors.   There is humour too, as well as the poignancy of the sisters situation.   Knowing they needed to provide for themselves and ever aware of their father’s growing frailty and Branwell’s inability to care for himself, let alone them.   An excellent, well written mystery, and a real delight for lovers of the Brontes.
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would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this brilliant book

the bronte sisters...
skeleton remains of a child found in a chimney breast

what evil lurks in the village as another child goes missing

brilliantly written story of the bronte sisters yet again becoming sleuths with support from their drunken brother it makes for a pleasing read 

and when the  perp is unmasked you are left feeling bewildered....

another brilliant story from this author that keeps you entertained and you just cant put the book down
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I really enjoyed this mystery /suspense novel.   The writing is much more assured than the author’s 1st novel about the Bronte sisters and Branwell.  The first felt sometimes like a history of the Brontes which I felt slowed the storyline and pace somewhat but this one was much better.  There were still glimpses into the Bronte history but it felt much more like a really fascinating and eye opening glimpse into life in the  1800’s.  
The story itself was not fast moving but that did not detract from my enjoyment.  Gosh could those ladies walk a long way!
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me to read a preview copy of this book.
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You don’t need to be a Brontë enthusiast to enjoy this marvellous story....full of suspense and gothicness ( I know, not a real word). I loved every word, well written, witty and thoroughly entertaining.
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Really enjoyed this one. Bella Ellis breathes life into the characters of Charlotte, Anne, Emily and Branwell Bronte and gives us real life siblings who squabble amongst each other but are fiercely loyal to each other. The time setting is atmospheric and realistic with the not so pleasant aspects of those times threaded through the story. Added to all that is the interesting mystery set amongst the dark moors. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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A fantastic read. All the witty dialogue and excellent characterisation as the first novel in this series but with an even better ending. I find these novels comforting - though perhaps this is strange considering the events of the plot! 
I loved the darker elements of the murder mystery and the descriptions of the wintery scenery as the sisters (and Branwell) search for the killer of a child whose bones are hidden in the chimney breast of Topwithens Hall. I found the character of Catherine Hartley fascinating and loved the comparisons drawn between her life and that of the Bronte sisters. 

I was so happy to spend time with Emily, Anne and Charlotte (and their friends/family) on the moors once again. Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review!
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A superb second instalment in this series which was equally as good as the first if not better, looking forward to reading the book.
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Accomplished Gothic Mystery....
Accomplished Gothic mystery and the second in the Bronte series of mysteries. Atmospheric with credible characters, enjoyable narrative and an engaging plot. A worthy addition.
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The Diabolical Bones by Bella Ellis
This is a second outing for the Bronte sisters as “detectors” of a mystery.  When Tabby, the family housekeeper informs the sisters that there has been terrible discovery at Top Withens Hall the sisters decide to employ their skills to seek out the answers to this mystery.  
Their investigations lead them to unearth the awful damage which befell those children of the poor during the early 19th Century when they were misused in order to provide cheap labour in a newly mechanised world. It also paints a dreadful picture of life in an orphanage both for the children and those who are forced to work there.
The author makes effective use of the cold weather and the snow covered landscape to further enhance the mystery they are investigating. The story is very well written; weaving as it does known facts about the Bronte sisters into a fictional story based in and around real locations.  The terrible treatment of the Irish, as they attempted to escape the potato famine is also brought vividly to life.
There is much to enjoy in this book for both Bronte aficionados and lovers of historical fiction and the mystery keeps one guessing until the last few chapters.  I will definitely be recommending this book to those in my various book groups and thoroughly enjoyed this suspenseful novel.  I give many thanks to the author, the publishers and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
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Second book in the Bronte sister's mystery series and this is equally as good as the first. Having just read the afterword the author has once again wound fact and fiction seamlessly and her love for this family flows on the page.

I guessed the 'whodunit' early on in the book but it was the why and how that really interested me so my enjoyment wasn't ruined by this.

This is very slow paced and therefore more mystery than mystery thriller so bare that in mind before diving in, this is a real Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea and a biscuit book.

Overall really enjoyed being back with the Bronte's and putting my detector cap back on.
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It's Christmas 1845 and Haworth is in the grip of a freezing winter. 
Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë are rather 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. When the sisters set off to find out more, they are confronted with an increasingly complex and sinister case, which leads them into the dark world of orphanages, and onto the trail of other lost, and likely murdered children. 
This is the second book in the series & I found it to be a real page turner, chilling, atmospheric & totally engrossing. I loved the mix of details about the Brontes & the mystery. The author has done a great job of mixing fact with fiction & I hope for more in the series
My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read
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I have read the first part in the series and was very excited about the second one. And I wasn't disappointed. The story is well told and exciting, in a way I found it more exciting than the first one. Also the protagonists became more alive for me, I could recognize them better and had the feeling that they became individuals . This was a very interesting development for me, because I thought that I had no problems in the first book, but only after reading this one I realized that it was the case. I also very much liked the language because it felt really appropriate to the time of the story. Best example for me is the conversation concerning a possible orgy, which is so old-fashioned that it is perfectly fitting. The author really managed to keep the Brontes alive, thanks for that!
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