Published by Algonquin Young Readers
on September 16, 2014
Received from the publisher at BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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.