Review | Jackaby by William Ritter

JackabyJackaby by William Ritter
Jackaby #1
YA Historical Paranormal

Algonquin Young Readers | September 16, 2014

About the Book:  “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.

amazon2 bn2

Who wouldn’t want to read a book called a mix between Sherlock Holmes, Dr Who, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer?  This girl would want to, which is why I was excited to finally start Jackaby!  It really measured up, too!  It was a well blended mix of deduction and the supernatural.  It’s a delicious recipe, for sure.

When I started Jackaby it made me think of The Monstrumologist.  They’re both similarly set in the 1800’s, and were about the study of the Supernatural.  Where The Monstrumologist was darker, more gothic, Jackaby was lighter and more comical.  William Ritter took a familiar idea, but gave it a new spin and I really really liked it.

However, while Jackaby’s character is compared to Sherlock, I think I prefer Jackaby more.  He’s focused, to the point of being oblivious, but he was never unkind.  He was gentle and compassionate, and that made him someone I want to continue reading about.  I liked him, a lot.  I think I can even see myself developing a little book crush.  It hasn’t happened yet, but he’s got the originality that usually draws me in.

While I do feel like historical fiction is presently inundated with modern thinking heroines, when I think there should be more historically accurate stories, I have to admit I really liked Abigail.  She was plucky and witty.  I loved how she lightly joked about Jackaby’s flighty behavior, but it was never cruely.  Even though she just met him, it was always affectionately.  Like, how we love Luna Lovegood but we affectionately joke about her.

What I think I enjoyed most about Jackaby was the lack of a romance between the two main characters.  There is romance in the book, and I think it’s going to be adorable, but it isn’t between Jackaby and Abigail.  Their friendship is exactly that, just friendship.  There aren’t enough books like this.

This was a win, and I’m already looking forward to catching up with everyone else and read the rest of this series.

Rating: 4-feathers

About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

12 Responses

  1. I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while now. I haven’t read many reviews for this one but it makes me happy to see such a positive review 😀 The Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Who, Buffy mix thing really caught my attention and so it’s wonderful that it seems to have gotten things mostly right. And even better that Jackaby isn’t as (obnoxious?) as Sherlock Holmes can be, but kinder. That’s a plus. I hope to get to this one some day. Lovely review! 😀


  2. Oooh. This has been on my TBR for a while, but for some reason, it never seems to float to the top I feel like I must be missing out.

    I am with you about how historical fiction lately has not had characters set in the time periods; it’s been frustrating. Modern sensibilities are great and all, but in the context of historical fiction it allows us to be harsher critics of the past. It’s unfair to historical figures who made radical or even practical good decisions in the societies in which they were bred and educated. The lack of mental and emotional accuracy is damaging, in my opinion. But, I get that it’s challenging for authors…

    Any historically accurate fiction books you’d recommend?


      1. That statement really resonates me, “We shouldn’t hide from our history”. I also think, particularly with YA historical fiction, it’s about what will sell well. The sensibilities of an early 1800’s female don’t align well with modern sensibilities and so the reader will have to actually work at understanding the character and making a connection.

        I haven’t read Outlander due to the violence; I’ve heard it can be pretty graphic in the first two books, but it does taper eventually. I’m glad you think it’s well done! My mother is constantly asking me why I haven’t read them yet. 😉


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