Sunday, May 1, 2016
Review: Jackaby by William Ritter
Author: William Ritter
Series: Jackaby, Book One
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: 16 September 2014
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia
“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. (summary from Goodreads)
Jackaby is a fun supernatural spin on the Victorian detective story.
I'd been meaning to read Jackaby for a while, so when I saw it at the library I snapped it up, and I'm so glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I figured I would as I'm a fan of Sherlock Holmes, historical fiction (especially of the Victorian Era), mysteries and the paranormal, and Jackaby is all of this rolled into one. A quick read, Jackaby is engaging, full of just enough action, intrigue, mythology and creatures to keep things interesting from start to finish. The only thing that didn't work so well is the mystery of the serial killer's identity. That was obvious from very early on. Abigail makes a certain observation, Jackaby makes another, and it is as easy to solve as 1+1=2. Ritter aims to take us for a bit of a wild ride as his characters continue to solve the mystery, and as great as that is, allowing us more insight into this world and its characters, I would have loved Jackaby all the more if it wasn't quite so predictable. But hey, plus side is Ritter didn't drag the story to boredom and frustration and I definitely appreciate that.
My enjoyment of Jackaby is mostly owed to Ritter's characters. For me, they make this entire book. I love me some sass and hilarity and Jackaby provides. Abigail is witty and a little fierce, determined to forge her own path and live a life of adventure. She uses books as weapons and for that alone I adore her! Jackaby is quite Holmes-like, clever and eccentric, charismatic in his own way, both somewhat clueless and simply uncaring of social etiquette. He and Abigail have an instant connection that left me grinning, all giddy like. I'm completely enamoured with their friendship and it's the biggest reason I'm eager to read more of this series. That, and I want to learn more of Jackaby's two house guests - Jenny, a ghost who once owned his home, and Douglas, a past employee of Jackaby's who is now a duck. Yes, you read that right. A duck. There's also Charlie, a young police officer with his own ties to the supernatural world and a sparking romance with Abigail. Ritter's characters are just brilliant, quirky and so very likeable - they have me flailing and squeeing. It's awesome and terrible.
There's a whimsy and humour to Jackaby that is irresistible.