Friday 31 December 2021

Book Review: The Fossil Hunter by Tea Cooper

 The Fossil Hunter
Tea Cooper
A rare fossil, an unsolved mystery, a trail into the past....
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Imprint: HQ Fiction
Publication date: 27th October 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
Wollombi, The Hunter Valley 1847

The last thing Mellie Vale remembers before the fever takes her is running through the bush as a monster chases her - but no one believes her story. In a bid to curb Mellie's overactive imagination, her benefactors send her to visit a family friend, Anthea Winstanley. Anthea is an amateur paleontologist with a dream. She is convinced she will one day find proof the great sea dragons - the ichthyosaur and the plesiosaur - swam in the vast inland sea that millions of years ago covered her property at Bow Wow Gorge, and soon Mellie shares that dream for she loves fossil hunting too...

When Penelope Jane Martindale arrives home from the battlefields of World War 1 with the intention of making her peace with her father and commemorating the death of her two younger brothers in the trenches, her reception is not as she had hoped. Looking for distraction, she finds a connection between a fossil at London's Natural History museum and her brothers which leads her to Bow Wow Gorge. But the gorge has a sinister reputation - 70 years ago people disappeared. So when PJ uncovers some unexpected remains, it seems as if the past is reaching into the present and she becomes determined to discover what really happened all that time ago...
My review
It was such a lovely coincidence that I picked up The Fossil Hunter to read after I had just returned from a weekend in Wollombi. This made the setting so easy to picture even though i had seen it over 100 years after the book is set I feel nothing much has really changed in this small town.
The Fossil Hunter is a dual time-line narrative with both time-lines (1847 &  1919) set in the past.
Tea Cooper's main characters are women interested in paleontology which was regarded as a strange pastime and was even cause for many rumours to morph and grow as the years passed.
I enjoyed how Cooper made paleontology interesting and even a little exciting. It is something I had never really thought about before.
What starts as an intriguing story of paleontology and finding fossils and possibly dinosaur bones soon turns to a compelling mystery.
There are times when we find questions in the second timeline which are yet to be played out in the first. I found myself eagerly reading not willing to put the book down until the final twist as Cooper adds elements of mystery and intrigue to the story. 
The Fossil Hunter is another fabulous read from Tea Cooper. Compelling, interesting and wonderfully immersive.
My rating 4.5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐½


About the author

Tea Cooper writes Australian contemporary and historical fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling. 

Challenges Entered: Australian Women Writers Challenge AWW2021

                                   Aussie Author Challenge #Aussieauthor21
                                   Historical Fiction Challenge 


  1. I've always been fascinated by fossils and I also love mystery books with dual timelines so I think I really need to get this book

  2. I still need to read this! Lovely review!