Book Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

Title: Jackaby (Jackaby #1)
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication date: September 16, 2014
Pages: 299
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Young Adult

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“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.

The first thing that drew me to this book, was the stunning cover. I knew it would be a perfect addition to my shelves. Before I purchased the book, I read the synopsis. A pretty cover doesn't necessarily mean a good book. The synopsis was intruiging enough for me too go through with the purchase. I then let the book dust away on my shelf for a few months before I finally picked it up.

We are introduced to the main character: Abigail Rook. The whole book revolves around her and her encounter with the infamous detective, R. F. Jackaby. She is in desperately need of a job, which is where Jackaby comes in and gives her a temporary job as his assistant. It was a delight to read the whole story through her eyes. She was a character with meaning, and her "supernatural abilities" was her intelligence.

Jackaby was the rainbow sprinkle in this book. I adored him, and the way he resembled Sherlock Holmes himself (in a more paranormal way) was magnificent. In some ways, he also reminded me of Newt Schamander from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He was such an easy character to like, but at the same time very mysterious as we do not get to know much about Jackaby himself. That is something I hope to discover later as I do plan to read the whole trilogy.

Together, Abigail and Jackaby worked perfect as a team. The "Sherlock and Watson" vibe was there the whole time. And even though I'm a sucker for romance, none of that was needed here. Their relationship brought me so much joy, and I loved how much more open the got with each other throughout the books.

The world building was another thing I really liked. I was pulled back to the 1890's, and at times it felt like I was standing right in the middle of it all, right in New Fiddleham.

All in all, it was a good read. Jackaby is definitely not something I would read on a daily basis, so I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I actually liked it. This is a perfect book for those who like the paranormal with a twist of mystery. Though I would not categorise this as a YA-novel. The characters did have a silly/childish feel, but as I progressed I just couldn't see any of them as young adults. But other than that, this is a book I'd highly recommend.


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