Series: Jackaby #1
Received from the publisher at BEA, for free, for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Published by Algonquin Young Readers
Cover image and summary from Goodreads:
“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 was definitely drawn to this book because of the back cover’s description of it as Dr. Who meets Sherlock, and the idea of a detective of the paranormal was irresistible.
I’ve only watched a few episodes of Dr. Who, so I’m not sure how accurate that comparison is, but I’ve read a bit of Arthur Conan Doyle’s works and I’ve watched a lot of film and television adaptations and re-imaginings, and this book definitely felt very Sherlock-y – which I loved!
The mystery was not difficult to solve, but the story was so fun to read that I didn’t mind.
The story is narrated by Abigal Rook, a young woman who’s just arrived in New Fiddleham and becomes Jackaby’s assistant. I really liked Abigail! She was frustrated with societal expectations of women, and she wanted to be involved in adventure, rather than forced to stay on the sidelines. Jackaby was a really interesting character! He was a bit of a mystery at the start of the book, but I liked learning about him as Abigail did, as the story went on. He was so funny and I loved his dialogue with Abigail, with Jenny (a housemate of sorts), and the police inspector, Marlowe. As I said before, it’s very Sherlock-y.
The paranormal element of the story was a lot of fun, and refreshingly different from much of the paranormal and supernatural stuff that I read and watch.
I loved the writing in Jackaby. The book is historical fiction, and the writing captured the period and setting perfectly for me.
I definitely got the sense that this could be the start of a series. There’s so much potential to tell more stories featuring Abigail and Jackaby, and if there is a second book, I’ll definitely be reading it! Highly recommended if you’re looking for a fun mystery that combines historical fiction with the paranormal.