September 16, 2014 • Cee • Reviews

William Ritter - Jackaby coverJackaby by William Ritter
September 16, 2014
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
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* ARC courtesy of Kelly and Scott

“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.

First sentence: “It was late January, and New England wore a fresh coat of snow as I stepped along the gangplank to the shore.”

You know how Jackaby is said to share a likeness to Doctor Who and Sherlock? I can see it. Well, more of the Sherlock and Watson relationship, and not Doctor Who (but that’s just me). I enjoyed it! A lot! I appreciate books about detectives and the supernatural. Jackaby doesn’t fail to deliver the awesome. From start to finish, I was entranced by the story that I ended up staying wayyyyy past my bedtime to read it. Peculiar detective who focuses on the supernatural, a curious assistant who’s looking for a job and an adventure, and a serial killer on the loose? What’s not to like?

There are many reasons why you should read Jackaby, but let’s start with these:

Six Reasons Why You Should Read Jackaby

  • Sherlock + Watson relationship

This does not mean that the characters in this book are named Sherlock and Watson, just that the characters share a relationship that is very much similar to Sherlock and Watson. R. F. Jackaby is an unconventional investigator who deals with the abnormal and paranormal mysteries that plagues his city, and Abigail Rook, is a young British woman fresh off the boat from Europe, trying to find a job when she joins Jackaby on his cases as his assistant. I love that although Abigail can’t see what Jackaby can see, Abigail is still valuable to Jackaby, and Jackaby praises her ability to see the ordinary as extraordinary. (I may or may not have been choked up with emotions during that scene because it reminds me so much of Sherlock + Joan Watson’s relationship in Elementary.) 

But of course, like any Sherlock and Watson relationship, there must be some put-downs. Jackaby doesn’t indulge Abigail in her “crazy” ideas; he usually casts them off as being ridiculous, but Abigail never takes it to heart. That girl can hold her own.

  • Abigail Rook.

Abigail is a curious soul. An incredibly brave, hardworking, and independent young woman. She wants to go wherever the adventure is. First, it was to college, then it was to wherever dinosaur bones are (she has a love for archaeology), and then it was to America where she foundJackaby. I want to be Abigail because she goes in search of her interests and love, not the least bit scared of the unknown. She has her set ideas of life. Plus, she knocks a few people off their pedestal when they make remarks that are not at all welcomed. Abigail, be still my heart.

  • Humor.

Subtle bits of humor here and there. It’s mainly due to Jackaby’s quirks (like his organizational habits) and Abigail’s outlandish assumptions, but it’s all in good fun. It isn’t humor that’s out of place; it helps define the characters a bit. You will surely release a small chuckle or break out into a smile.

  • Supernatural Creatures!

They are cool, okay? Supernatural creatures are absolutely fascinating and somewhat scary too (because I keep thinking about what if they were real. Eeeeek. I’m easily scared). Each creature has such a rich background; I just want to read more about them. Who wouldn’t want to read about banshees, trolls, and kobolds?

  • No Romance!

None whatsoever! Not between Jackaby and Abigail, or anybody else with Abigail. That’s a total win in my book! You may squint and see something, but it really isn’t anything to be concerned about. Abigail’s human. She can find people attractive. So don’t worry if you don’t want romance in this book because there is none in this book.

  • Because I said so.

As well as Kristen and Jon and Shelly and Crystal. Basically, a bunch of people are telling you to read this book! You will not regret it!



3 Responses to “(ARC) REVIEW | Jackaby by William Ritter”

  1. Kim says:

    First off, I absolutely LOVE your layout — it’s so adorable.
    Now on to this review, I really like how you broke it down. It makes it easy to follow. I love, love, love the cover. It’s so beautiful. I love that there is a Sherlock + Watson like relationship in the book too. Sounds very interesting. I don’t mind a book with no romance either :)

    Great review! I’ll have to add this to the TBR list.

  2. Shannelle says:

    I think the only reason to read this would have to be that cover. It’s so lovely! It’s so moody, and I love those whole photo-in-silhouette-overlay photos. *sighs at that cover* But I’m definitely interested in the fact that it sounds like an epic detective story!

    Great review, Cee! :D

  3. Yay! I agree with you! I think this book was a great start and I’m sure that as the series continues we’ll get much more development in the characters. I am really excited to see where Ritter takes them. Great review!!

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