Book Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

14Title: Jackaby
Author: William Ritter
Series: Jackaby #1
Released: September 16, 2014
Genres: F, HF, M, YA
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 299
Dates Read: April 19 – June 18, 2017
Grade: B
Synopsis: 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. (Goodreads)

Review: This was a short, fun read, even though it took me forever to finish.  I like how fresh Ritter was able to make this as a Holmesian story–it’s set in America (essentially during Reconstruction, although that doesn’t play a huge part in the book), it has paranormal aspects scattered throughout, and it has a woman playing the Watson role (obviously not a first, but appreciated all the same).  The writing was generally fast-paced, which I think works for this kind of story.  It didn’t seem to drag anywhere, and it was still rife with rich details.  People have described this as Doctor Who meets Sherlock; I actually kind of agree, and I’m glad it works.  I look forward to the rest of the series, and I really hope Charlie gets an even bigger role in the subsequent books.

I typically don’t do well with mysteries.  I sometimes get bored before everything is revealed.  But I didn’t get bored with this one, probably because of the fantastical elements.  I’m glad I was able to find one I could enjoy.

Favorite Quotes:

  • “One who can see the ordinary is extraordinary indeed, Abigail Rook (69).”
  • There were enough voices in my life telling me I couldn’t this, or shouldn’t that, or that I wasn’t up to the task–the last thing I intended to do was start agreeing with them (78).
  • “It was so easy to get caught up in it.  It felt so natural.  Like how you think things ought to be when you’re a child and you’ve been reading storybooks and listening to fairy tales.  I guess I forgot about being frightened because it felt good to finally be in the adventure (128).”
  • “That’s insipid.  Happiness is bliss–but ignorance is anesthetic, and in the face of what’s to come, that may be the best we can hope for our ill-fated acquaintances (201).”

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