Review: A Baby’s Bones by Rebecca Alexander

A Baby's Bones

Rebecca Alexander

Sage Westfield Series

May 1, 2018

A Baby’s Bones by Rebecca Alexander is the first book in the Sage Westfield series.

Author Rebecca Alexander gives us a tale of murder set on the beautiful Isle of Wight. An archeologist, Sage Westfield, is set to task with a 16th-century well excavation. When bones of an adult and a baby are discovered within, it begins to look like they’ve dug up a murder from the past. As the mystery unfolds, Sage finds herself surrounded by mysterious circumstances that soon turn deadly.

A Baby’s Bones is written in an easy to follow format, featuring alternating chapters set in the 1500s and modern day. This allows the reader to follow along as both timelines experience a build up to murder.

I really enjoyed the historical chapters and the way they were written. I found myself being just as wrapped up with the characters of the past as I was the current cast. The mystery deepens at a nice pace, keeping me reading to find out more and trying to guess who was behind it all. Alexander kept me hooked and provided just enough information to keep the mystery a mystery.

I am a big fan of the paranormal, and this story has plenty to offer. There is a haunted cottage complete with ghosts, witchcraft, sigils, alchemy, and local lore. Most of the villagers seem to agree that the cottage is haunted, and the tale of a local witch with a castaway and hidden grave is tied to the bodies found in the well. I was amused at how easily the locals would proclaim the hauntings—even the town vicar, who plays a large part in the story. Sage isn’t as easily convinced, though.

“Ghosts are supposed to be associated with violent deaths or being denied Christian burial.”

“You have to be kidding. You can’t believe in ghosts.”

“I don’t ‘believe’ in ghosts, it’s not a faith thing.”

Sage folded her arms. “I just thought vicars wouldn’t be great fans of the supernatural.”

He smiled, apparently with genuine amusement. “On the contrary. We’re all about the supernatural.” He reached into a pocket and pulled out a dog-eared card. “Here’s my number, if you need to get in touch about the burial. The woman who used to own Bramble Cottage, Maeve Rowland, she knows all about the house’s history. She might be worth a visit. She always said the place was haunted.”

Things quickly get more complicated as the excavation unearths strange marks lining the inside of the well, which are discovered to be sigils. After, the local legend of a witch is conveyed, and Sage connects it to the lost grave in the woods.

“Some legends say she was a witch, that the Devil appeared at one of her coven’s black masses in the ruined abbey. She ran to the church, but the Devil caught up with her at the gate. There was a clap of thunder, and he ripped her baby right out of her belly.”

The current owners of Bramble Cottage are experiencing strange sounds that have been attributed to the haunting, and along with the husband’s imminent death due to cancer and the bodies in the well, it leaves a somber and gothic atmosphere.

Sage’s mother, Yana, is an herbalist. Sage’s parents are divorcing because, while they’ve always had a bit of an open marriage, her mother was finding herself more attracted to women. I really liked Yana’s character. She was super loyal to her daughter, very modern in her thinking, and had a great sense of humor, and when Sage mentioned the lore of the witch supposedly buried in the grave, her mother had the best reaction.

“He told me about this legend of a witch called Isabeau, back in Tudor times.”

“It was so easy to call a woman ‘witch’ in those days, huh?” Yana crossed her ankles. “She was probably sleeping with someone else’s husband. Maybe wife.” She laughed.

“And she was French.”

Yana spread out her hands. “There you are. Probably a wise woman who knew all about herbs, and a foreigner as well. Burn her, she must be witch.”

There’s quite a bit of superstition that fuels the stories. Given the location and the small population, it’s no surprise. But when Sage is determined to find the real answers, someone starts issuing threats. A murder follows, and the stakes are raised. Soon, Sage and her unborn baby become the targets.

A Baby’s Bones is wonderful—one of my favorite reads of the year so far! Alexander has also written the Jackdaw Hammond series of supernatural crime novels, which I’m going to be checking out soon. And it seems that Sage Westfield will be getting a sequel in the future. I can’t wait to see what adventures she goes on next!

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