Jackaby by William Ritter
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.
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.
I keep wanting to read this one but haven’t got around to it yet. I’m going to have to correct that. Sounds like such an entertaining book!
It was really cute! I loved both characters, but especially the oddness of Jackaby. Very unique.
Wonderful review Birdie! This series has been on my radar for awhile, but zI just have gotten around to reading them. After reading your review I think I’m going to head over to Amazon and finally get the first book.
Yay! I can’t wait to read what you think of it! I’m excited to keep reading the others.
LikeLiked by 1 person
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! 😀
Thank you so much! I usually stay away from books that compare themselves to other things I love, but I thought in this case they got it pretty right. Plus, having Jackaby have Sherlock’s intelligence without the sociopathic tendencies made him much more enjoyable to read.
LikeLiked by 1 person
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?
I just feel like we shouldn’t hide from our history. I know it makes some readers uncomfortable to read the abuse women faced, or children. The icky sides of history. But they were real, and books shouldn’t glorify them but they shouldn’t rewrite our history either. The modern thinking heroine should be rarer, in my opinion. I think this new phenomenon of modern characters in a historical setting is especially prevalent in romance.
My favorite is Outlander, lol. I’ve gotten in quite an argument about some of the hero’s behavior in the story, or the depictions of rape and violence, but I think she did a great job pairing a story with great characters (including Jamie) while keeping them historically accurate. Jamie thought like a man raised in the 1700’s, and Claire thought like a progressive woman of the 1950’s. Sometimes she did things that endangered his people, becuase she thought like a modern woman and not of the dangers of living in the 1700’s, and his reaction was one of a good man of the 1700’s, not of a modern man.
LikeLiked by 1 person
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. 😉
They are very graphic. I think the first one’s the worst though, two is about the war so there is violence, but not like in the first book. When I reread I’ve begun skipping the end of the first book because I can’t handle it anymore. They’re very good though.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yikes. Okay, well then CERTAINLY not for me. I’ll just live vicariously through you. 😉
Hahaha. I do better with violence in a book. The television show was too much for me. I couldn’t finish season one, from fear.