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The Bone Hunters

Joanne Burn

When Ada Winters finds the fossilised remains of an unrecognisable creature up on the cliffs, she believes she has found the answer to her scientific ambitions and her family’s financial struggles. Meanwhile, Doctor Edwin Moyle has come to Dorset in search of the discovery that will bring him fame and fortune, and instead finds a strange young woman who seems to hold the key to everything he seeks. But what is the creature that Edwin and Ada are about to unearth? And will it bring them greatness or destruction?

The Bone Hunters by Joanne Burns is an interesting take on fossil hunters of the nineteenth century. Set along the Jurassic Coast this novel follows the escapades of Ada and Edwin as they both seek to find a sea monster that is buried in the rocks of Dorset.

Ada has had a hard life, although not a s hard as her mother. Her father died leaving her his collection of old bones and fossils. She spends most of her life finding these objects and hoarding them Occasionally she'll sell one or two to tourists who flock to the coast. Her mother wants her to marry the local vicar, but Ada has other ideas for her life. Enter Edwin, a doctor who is a member of the Royal Geological Society. He's spending time with colleagues hunting more fossils on the coast when he meets Ada. Together they conspire to find this sea monster in the cliffs. Both are single minded in what they want.

This is an interesting book. I was attracted to it by the obvious similarities between the story and that of real-life fossil hunter, Mary Anning. The atmosphere of a rain splattered dirty town in Dorset are beautifully written. Ada and Edwin are both a little selfish and too self-centred in their own goals.

This was an Ok read and will suit those who like historical novels with strong characters.

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Review by
AJ Steel
January 5, 2024

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