Friday, May 15, 2015

Review: Jackaby by William Ritter


By William Ritter

Blurb: “Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

Genres: Young Adult Mystery, Paranormal

Publication Date: September 16, 2014

Series: Jackaby (book 1)

My Rating: 4 stars

Jackaby, I was discovering, had a way of opening that corner of my brain. It was a quite little corner in which I had lived when I was younger. It was a corner in which anything was possible, where magic was not an imprbabale day dream, but obvious fact...


I don't often agree with the marketing that publishers try to employ by saying that a book is like (insert popular cultural thing here) meets (insert popular culture thing here) but in this case...dang. It was spot on. All the weird creatures a la Doctor Who with the sleuthing (and a hint of the personality of) Sherlock Holmes. 221 Baker Street, meet 926 Augur Lane. I dare you to try not to like this book. I bet I'll win that bet though. 

Jackaby. Sarcastic, oblivious, English gentleman. Jackaby is by far my favorite character in this book. He is an odd duck...oops, that's actually odd specimen, and a total enigma.

His female Watson is Abigail Rook. She is an independent runaway who doesn't conform to the gender stereotypes of the day. Hooray for feminism! She's observant and fits Jackaby's odd personality perfectly. 

Besides the pair of MCs, there's a man who's a duck who refuses to be a man again, and a very proper ghost who drinks tea. What a book. What a story. 

The plot manages to get the formula that a book like this needs right; there's a great amount of mystery and paranormal creatures, but not so much that the era this book takes place in is irrelevant; the culture and speech of the time is able to seep in and create a beautiful atmosphere for the story to flourish. And there's a touch of romance, but it's hardly overwhelming; a hint is quite literally all it is seeing as it's never more than a feeling.

These paranormal creatures are not your typical vampires or ab-endowed werewolves. Some are scary as all crap, some friendly, some adorkable. There's banchees and trolls and creatures that I didn't even know were a thing but apparently are. 

The best part is that the ending is so unexpected and chilling. It makes sense once you think about it--which makes it even better. 

Descriptions in this book are stunningly vivid. I had a clear image of Jackaby in my head...a clear image of everything, really Which, considering this is a murder mystery, was sometimes a bit gruesome to think about, but I made it through.

Jackaby is as stunning as its cover; it's brilliantly written and has a cast of characters not soon forgotten. If you've gone in to tv-show depression while waiting for the next season of Sherlock to come out, look no further than Jackaby. 

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