Jackaby by William Ritter
Series: Not that I can see on GoodReads, but it definitely has series potential!
Published: September 16th, 2014
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
304 pages (eARC)
Genre: Young adult historic fiction/paranormal/mystery
Acquired this book: From the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
“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 knew I had to read Jackaby from the moment I saw the cover. Then I read the synopsis, which touted the book as ‘Doctor Who meets Sherlock’. After my initial squee-fest, I realized that was a pretty bold statement, especially considering the number of die-hard fans of both shows (including myself). Well…I’m pleased to say Jackaby didn’t disappoint. It definitely had a very strong Doctor Who/Sherlock vibe, with its own unique twists and characters.
Jackaby is a fast-talking, intelligent yet scatterbrained detective who has the unique ability to see things others don’t. When Abigail Rook arrives in New Fiddleham in search of a job and a place to stay, she starts working for Jackaby, despite people’s warnings to stay away from him. A lady in a previous life, Abigail is in search of adventure, and she finds that in the employ of Jackaby.
This book had me laughing within the first few pages. Jackaby definitely reminded me of a combination of Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor - slightly manic, brilliant, and eccentric, with the tendencies of a sociopath. I was fascinated by him, and the wonderfully bizarre things he said and did. His physical description made me think of him as a combination between Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and David Tennant’s Doctor - lanky, unruly hair, basically ridiculously sexy in an unintentional way. How could I not love him? Abigail is a combination of John Watson and one of the Doctor’s companions - she’s along for the ride in a lot of ways, but she’s also intelligent and quick-witted and can definitely hold her own.
I loved the paranormal aspects of this book. Besides Jackaby’s ability to see things nobody else can, we got to see creatures that aren’t often written about. I won’t give any specifics because it gets into spoiler territory, but I think Ritter did a fantastic job. The mystery was also well done - there were enough twists and turns to make the ride exciting and keep me guessing.
Ritter has the ability to weave a story that’s both completely ridiculous and yet somehow believable, with characters you can’t help but love, and creatures you want to shrink away from. Laugh out loud funny, full of great characters, fast-paced, and wonderfully strange, Jackaby is a must read, whether you’re looking for mystery, paranormal, or historical fiction.
Have you read Jackaby? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you like Sherlock and/or Doctor Who? How do you feel about books being compared to other books, TV shows, movies, etc?