I received this book for free from Edelweiss, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Jackaby by William Ritter
Series: Jackaby #1
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on September 16th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
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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.
I have a confession to make: I totally picked this one based on the cover alone. What I didn’t know but soon found out is that Jackaby is a ridiculously fun read that draws inspiration from both Sherlock and Doctor Who. Perfect much? Not quite but oh so close.
What I loved the most about William Ritter’s debut novel is the humor. The numerous laugh-out-loud moments stood out because they were clever and showed a deep understanding of the character Jackaby is based on. There’s a sarcastic edge to the dialogue, which makes sense if Sherlock and Doctor Who were used as the templates for this new series. While the world building was good and enjoyable, the introduction of the main character was even better. The author did an excellent job developing Jackaby’s character and showcasing his quirks. Abigail, his assistant, doesn’t stand in his shadow. Rather, she’s a very interesting female character working with the limitations of living in New England, 1892. Even though the vast majority of background information was left untold, I trust this will be fixed in the upcoming books.
The only issue I had with the novel is that it alternates between great and average writing. The average is only seen here and there but I’m being picky at this point. There are really great moments between Jackaby and Abigail and the monsters are described in a very vivid manner. However, some scenes left me wanting more. This applies more to the conclusion than anything else but my complain is nothing major if we keep in mind that I loved everything else. The “negatives” end up being silly compared to the awesomeness surrounding everything else.
Our mad detective is eccentric and detailed-oriented while his assistant is brave and sharp. Combine this with the monsters that can only exist in a Doctor Who episode and you have a winner. Even though it took me about six months (gasp!) to finish, I am counting down the days until the sequel comes out.