Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

March 24, 2015 Book, Joint Review 17 ★★★★★

Review: Jackaby by William RitterJackaby by William Ritter
Genres: Action & Adventure, Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Paranormal
Series: Jackaby #1
on September 16th 2014
Source: Edelweiss, Netgalley
AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

“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.

Jackaby is the kind of story that will grip you until the wee hours of the night. Told from the point of view of Abigail Rook, she is a newcomer to New Fiddleham, New England in 1892 after certain events that lead her there. She is in need of a job and finds one with the eccentric investigator everyone mocks by the name of R.F. Jackaby. She becomes his temporary assistant while he investigates a murder case that might be linked with a political figure. Exhilarated and bewildered by the whole situation, Abigail sticks to Jackaby until she discovers that the mere interaction of him and the supernatural world puts her in harms way like never before, giving her a real adventure she might never come back from.

I highly dislike when books are compared to something  in the summary provided by the publisher, but this one hit a bull’s eye. If you’re a fan of Sherlock and Doctor Who, this is the book for you. Supernatural themes are met in the late 1800s with this investigator that might as well be the pawn born from Sherlock and a female Doctor (it could happen).

What’s the most attractive to me in this story, other than the awesome characters and supernatural aspects, is the language used and descriptions. If you’re young and inexperienced in the classics such as me, you might find it hard to sometimes engage in certain books of that era, as interesting as they may be. William Ritter uses a language that is easy to grasp and recreate in your head effortlessly by describing the town and clothes of that time, among other things. It was like you were inside the story walking along with Jackaby and Abigail in search of the criminal.

While predictable, it wasn’t so much about knowing who was the murderer but knowing how and why this person did what they did. How Jackaby would find the answers and Abigail would respond to them were what this story was mostly built around, making the mystery even more rich and interesting to read about.

Jackaby, like Sherlock and the Doctor, was amazing. He was eccentric, oblivious to the most simple things but quickly expected everyone to know exactly what he thought was obvious in the supernatural and investigative aspects.

He was a bit awkward to certain social things but he has a really sweet and thoughtful heart as we get to see in the end. Like the two said comparisons of Jackaby, he also was not interested in any romantic business of any sort, specially not with his assistant, which made this even better! Because lately it seems that a lot, if not all, books NEED to have romance to make it appealing. This book proves that theory wrong.

Abigail was an interesting character. She was ordinary in all ways possible, or so she seemed at first. She liked adventure and wanted to attend an expedition of her own like her father did rather than sit around sipping tea in fancy dresses like her mother wanted. She was smart and cunning and rivaled Jackaby in some things, seeming a bit dorky firsthand but learning along the way. She was up to the challenge of earning her job in a permanent way and prove her worth. She stood up for herself when others thought of her as being ridiculous and crazy by being with Jackaby, and even wearing clothes that were comfortable for her rather than what society expected. And I loved her for all that and more. And, as mentioned before, she wasn’t a blinded-eyed lover running around confessing her love. She was action-driven to do her job and solve the mystery, not get distracted by other things that wouldn’t pay her for a meal. She does like someone in the story, but that wasn’t as important when her life was at the risk.

The main focus of this book wasn’t the romance, though we do see a few cute moments involving Abigail fancying a certain Detective Cane and likewise. The book mainly focuses in getting to know the two main characters, Abigail and Jackaby, and this whole new world Abigail has discovered of danger and mysteries that soon gets to call her new home. It was highly interesting and fresh to see all these monsters and faeries and banshees and many more in the story and how Jackaby explained them to Abigail in the course of the book. Nothing about the usual monsters we might hear about, pfft nah.

In overall, this was a great story for readers of all ages. A good mystery with a case to solve, a murderer to catch with a pinch or two of monsters and fantastical creatures not known to the normal, ordinary eye. Exciting, humorous, terrifying, and mystifying, a must-read for everyone. And the good thing is that now we know that this is not a stand alone. I repeat, this is NOT a drill. There is a sequel involving the cute little lovers and more Jackaby! So, go get your copy of Jackaby and join the fun of uncovering the bad guys and seeing the extraordinary through this investigator who sees beyond the illusion and the assistant that sees the ordinary extraordinarily.

Rating: 5 stars


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I'm Jennifer. Addicted reader, and lover of books. I'm a full-time college student majoring in English Liturature and Linguistics & Communication, with aspirations of being a professional editor. Among other things. In the meantime, I obsess over books, history, art, and politics. I believe in freedom of speech and reading whatever you want. Open to discussions about anything and everything 🙂
  • I recently purchased this book and now I can’t wait to read it. I am a huge Whovian and when someone brings in the Doctor to a review, it just makes me happy! Plus, you’ve just been cemented in one of the reviewers I adore, because of Doctor Who. Thanks for posting your review and I look forward to reading this.

    • jmmbookworm

      I haven’t watched Doctor Who in a while but I love it <3 And can't wait to know what you think of the book! Hopefully love it xD

  • I’ve always wanted to read this! I’m so glad it’s as fantastic as everyone claims it to be. Looking forward to reading this soon!

    • jmmbookworm

      I’ll look forward to know what you think! 🙂

  • Karen

    Awesome! This sounds like something really different from everything else out there.

    Also – I hate comparisons too. It’s almost always a let down. I’m glad it wasn’t in this case.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

  • shootingstarsmag

    I’ve been hearing wonderful things about this one. I bought myself a copy a bit ago but I need to find the time to read it. I’m so glad you loved it.


    • jmmbookworm

      I hope you like it once you read it 🙂

  • Awww Jackaby sounds so incredibly endearing! I love how sweet he sounds and the lack of romance is a winner for me. Abigail sounds like a strong and dedicated character too. Lovely review Jennifer!

    • jmmbookworm

      I often imagined Jackaby as Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians (for some reason lol) and it made him even more loveable <3 lol And the little romance is such a refreshing element. I'm hoping Abigail keeps her head between her shoulders in the second book. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  • Oh, I so wanna read this book!!
    I’m a fan of Sherlock Holmes, and this reminds me so much of him! Also, I’ve been approved for the eARC of the second one, so I kind of have to read it now 😉

  • I loved Jackaby! That’s why I gave 2 stars to the novel instead of one. I don’t know.. I just found it boring but I will read book 2 in case it gets much much better 🙂 Super review though!!

    • jmmbookworm

      Oh I understand! While I loved most of it, I have to admit that there were moment when it became Boring, but that’s okay. I’m very excited for book 2, so we’ll have to wait and see how the sequel goes! Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

  • I still need to read this one! I love the fact that it has the Doctor Who/Sherlock vibes 🙂 I have neither read nor watched these two and reading this would be a nice intro to what I will expect. The fact that it’s a Parnormal Mystery without any deep or intense focus on the romance is a plus. I’m so tired of those these days!

    Faye at The Social Potato

  • eeeeep! It sounds exciting!! I requested this from Netgalley before and I was accepted but then I forgot to download it…it’s been archived already huhu it broke my heart. WAAAAA but anyways I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m going to just have to buy a copy.

  • Jackaby sounds like a brilliant book! I’ve seen another review about it, and I was meaning to put it on my TBR pile, but never got around to doing so…
    I shall go and do it now.

    Fabulous review, by the way!

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