Saturday, August 30, 2014

Jackaby by William Ritter {review}

by William Ritter
♦publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
♦release date: September 16, 2014
♦hardcover, 304 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: ALA
“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.

Review:  With its promise of appeal to fans of Sherlock and Doctor Who, Jackaby was solidly one of my most anticipated reads of this year. This comparison gave it some high expectations from me, and thankfully, this debut was everything I’d hope---even more amusing than I expected.  For a tale set in Victorian times, I was surprised to find myself giggling and sometimes even laughing out loud at the antics of Mr. Jackaby and the quick wit of his new assistant, Abigail Rook.

The story is told in the perspective of Abigail, a young woman who has broken away from her family to find adventure. After a failed attempt at what she thought was her dream job, she lands in New Fiddleham searching for work. She comes across an ad for an assistant, preferably with a strong stomach, and this leads her to the door of the odd and outcasted Mr. R. F. Jackaby.  Not only a clever detective, he is also a seer, able to see and sense things that most people don’t even believe exist.  Of course this eccentricity earns him a suspicious eye from everyone in town and a cold shoulder  from the chief of police, even though in some cases he  has no choice to hear Jackaby out. But I loved his intense pride in what he is, his complete disregard for what anyone else thought, and his high respect and endless knowledge of the all the mysterious creatures and species ---incidentally some of my favorite things about The Doctor and Sherlock, so the comparison is well deserved. 

I do hope this will be the start of a series of adventures, because this one was pure fun and danger and excitement.  Abigail and Jackaby have a great and humorous rapport between them (and completely non-romantic, I might add!), as she gets swept along in his madcap manner of solving supernatural crimes but also holds her own in being clever and observant in ways that he tends to miss. I’d love to delve deeper into these characters and some of the side characters as well, especially Jenny, the ghostly previous owner of Jackaby’s house that quickly formed a bond with Abigail---as I felt that this was a sort of quick and dirty intro to all the of them with the focus more on the mystery itself. Still, I loved this book and highly recommend! 

Find William Ritter online:  Website  •  Twitter 

Purchase Jackaby:  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound

*I did speak to the publisher at ALA about whether this was the start of a series.  While Jackaby does stand alone, more adventures are definitely in the works!


  1. I can't wait to read this book! It sounds like something I would really enjoy! :)

  2. Love that cover. Sounds like something I'd like!

  3. I have never heard of Jackaby before today in this review. It sounds interesting, but I don't know...I've never watched Doctor Who or Sherlock Holmes so I'm a little iffy about this. But if I ever get the chance I probably will end up reading it since you thought so highly about it. And I can't believe this book had everything but romance! What a change! :D

  4. I wonder if the author's going to use some other famous characters for his next book, if he's planning to continue writing mystery, that is. That would be great! I'm in love with the cover.
    LOL I' probably the only one in the world who doesn't like Doctor Who. I do like Sherlock and Elementary.

  5. The Closet LibraryAugust 31, 2014 at 6:34 AM

    I have been debating reading this book for a while and I might just give it a try now thanks to your review!

  6. Great review Becky. <3 Thank you for sharing :D I do think this book sounds awesome. And I'm so glad you loved it so much :) I have not seen any of those tv-shows, though... but one day :)

  7. YAY! I'm so excited! I was worried, because it definitely gives high expectations, but now I'm just pumped to read it. I agree that their disregard for what other people think of them is one of the best qualities of the Doctor and Sherlock Holmes. :) Ooh, and more is coming? Hooray! Great review Becky!

  8. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I can't wait to read this book, ti sounds so good! I love characters with humors and strange adventures, so I'm totally in for it!

  9. this sounds intriguing! Thanks for the great review!

  10. OK can I just say that the cover alone is enough to rope me in :) I'm so glad you loved the book! Can't wait to check it out! :)

  11. I was going to say that it was one hell of a premise that it's Sherlock meets Doctor Who! And I'm glad that it met your expectations-- I SO want to read it now!

    Great review!

  12. Great review! I hope i win the giveaway! :D Sounds so good!