book cover of The Bone Hunters
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The Bone Hunters

A novel by

'An engrossing tale of a woman striving for the recognition she deserves in the face of male indifference and betrayal' SUNDAY TIMES 'Best historical fiction for February 2024'


'Singular and astonishing . . . I've never met a character quite like Ada'
The Bone Hunters has cemented Joanne Burn's place as one of my favourite writers' SONIA VELTON
'Joanne Burn is fast becoming my go-to historical fiction writer'
The Bone Hunters is that rare combination . . . beautifully written but also a gripping page-turner' LAURA SHEPPERSON


In 1824, Lyme Regis is as tumultuous as the sea that surrounds it. When twenty-four-year-old Ada Winters - poor, peculiar and brilliant - uncovers a set of unusual fossils on the cliffs, she believes she has found the answer to her scientific frustrations and her family's financial struggles.

Meanwhile, Doctor Edwin Moyle has come to Dorset in search of the discovery that will place him amongst the greatest geologists of the age. What he finds instead is a strange young woman who seems to hold the key to everything he desires.

But what
is the creature that Ada and Edwin seek to unearth? And will it lead them to greatness, or destruction?

'Delicate and beautiful, I loved it'
'An extraordinary book . . . I fell in love with Ada from the first page'
'A beautifully written tale of obsession, friendship, betrayal, ambition and love'
'So beautifully and brilliantly written. Every word dripped with atmosphere'

Genre: Historical

Praise for this book

"Joanne Burn is fast becoming my go-to historical fiction writer. The writing is both beautiful and brutal, the pace an incredibly tense, deftly-handled unearthing of something monstrous. A tale of hardships and social misfits and finding liberty in a world designed to deny it." - Emma Carroll

"A wonderfully lyrical story of intrigue that spirals into obsession. Based loosely on the Victorian fossil hunter Mary Anning, the story is delicate and beautiful. I loved it." - Polly Crosby

"In Ada, Joanne Burn has given us a singular and astonishing heroine: a woman of strength, intelligence, resilience and resource; a woman who sees the restrictions the world would impose upon her and has the moral courage to step beyond them. Every young woman of ambition - any young woman who feels her ambition impeded either by her gender or class - should read her. I've never met a character in literature quite like Ada - or one I admired more. And it goes without saying that Joanne's writing, her use of language and skilful world-building, go from strength to glorious strength." - Annie Garthwaite

"The Bone Hunters is a beautiful and extraordinary book, bringing to life a time and place in breathtaking detail and lyrical prose. At its heart it is the story of a young woman learning to discover and embrace who she is, and find her place in an unwelcoming world. I fell in love with Ada from the first page." - Elizabeth Lee

"I devoured this in a couple of days. So beautifully and brilliantly written. Every word dripped with atmosphere, I absolutely loved it." - Carole Matthews

"The Bone Hunters by Joanne Burn is that rare combination, a beautifully written book that is also a gripping page-turner. I was drawn in by the intelligence and passion of the main character, Ada Winters, and read with a growing sense of dread of the dangers, both societal and environmental, that she faces. I adored this novel. Highly recommended." - Laura Shepperson

"The Bone Hunters has cemented Joanne Burn's place as one of my favourite writers. Ada had the same magical combination of vulnerability and grit as the 'Marsh Girl' in Where the Crawdads Sing. This is a gripping and beautifully written tale of a woman fighting for her worth to be recognised. Like the fossils she loves, Ada will leave a lasting impression." - Sonia Velton

"A beautifully-written tale of obsession, friendship, betrayal, retribution, and love." - Roz Watkins

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