If you follow me on Instagram or Goodreads then you know that I finished this book awhile ago, and said I’d be writing a review as well as doing a SCRIBE blog post for it. I’ve actually had the review written up for a little, but both health and computer issues prevented me from typing it up sooner. The SCRIBE post though will take a little longer though here’s my review. I tried to be as spoiler free as possible, but I can’t promise that I succeeded 100% and apologize if not. Feel free to comment, but try not to spoil anything huge, please.
“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.
(Purchasing links, more details, and follow-up books can be found here: Jackaby on Goodreads)
My Rating: 5/5 Windmills
Between the cover and that blurb, how could I not be immediately grabbed by this book, right? I had it on my Want to Read list on Goodreads for a long time, and then on the first visit to my new city’s library I saw it — and grabbed it as quickly as possible. A supernatural/paranormal Sherlock Holmes type character? That appealed to me immediately, and the mention of Doctor Who didn’t hurt either. It took me awhile to read due to my health, but each time I picked this book up I was immediately caught up in it. And it made me laugh and smile a great deal! I love a book that’ll cheer you up when you’re not feeling well.
The descriptions in this book were beautiful whether it was Jackaby’s hat or the streets of New Fiddleham(and oh my, how I LOVE the place names in this book). My favorite though were those of Jackaby’s house; each floor giving you a clearer picture of our Detective with each word. The pond was especially breathtaking, and vivid, that it left me feeling a sense of child-like wonder and sticks in my mind. The city of New Fiddleham and the home of Jackaby at 926 Augur Lane are as much characters as Jackaby and Abigail themselves.
Some will say that Jackaby is based off the BBC Sherlock, and perhaps he was, but I have to say that I heartily feel he’s more like the Sherlock Holmes of the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. Jackaby might at times be unaware or oblivious, but he can also be quite sociable and friendly, and even comforting, just as Sherlock of the stories. However, the most important thing here is that even with those comparisons, Jackaby can stand on his own two feet as a character; influenced in some degree though not a carbon copy. You could even say that there’s some of The Doctor in him. Which one? Well, you’ll have to read the book.
While checking out the book on some sites, I had seen some reviews where the rating was marked down for the mystery plot not being more complicated or the story not being mind-blowing enough. People are allowed to have their own thoughts though so I’m not knocking them. I just mention it cause it left me a little confused. To me this book was not mainly about the mystery. Early on it was clear to me the story is about more than the mystery, which if anything is a subplot after a fashion, even though it’s involved in a lot of the book scenes. As far as a crime mystery goes I thought it hit all the points — the Sherlock Holmes story felt here most — and added more with the paranormal/supernatural aspects. Adventure, intrigue, drama, tension, grief, excitement, urgency, and more can be felt in this entire book from the moment Abigail Rook finds herself thrust into this unusual, new life. Why? Cause you’re right there with her from the first moment, and as she grows you are witnessing the transformation from a lost girl into a self-assured woman who has finally found her place.
Now that I’ve brought up Abigail Rook, let me gush a little about her brilliance. She is everything I could’ve imagined wanting in a female lead. Here’s a young woman that wants more from life than to find a good husband and have a dozen children after finishing school; refusing to hide her intellect and dreams to fit society’s mold at a time when it is frowned upon. Instead of conforming she rebels and takes her life into her own hands. Perhaps her plan, that is really no plan at all, is foolhardy, and her first experience does not go as well as hoped, but Abigail Rook doesn’t give up and she finds herself in New Fiddleham.
This book is called Jackaby, and we definitely come to learn about, and understand, him, but to me this book is about Abigail herself. It’s about how she isn’t afraid to present a theory or give an answer even if it may be wrong, how she doesn’t buckle under the pressure or fear though it’d be understandable, how she sees things otherwise missed cause she pays attention where others do not, how she doesn’t quite believe in this new world yet opens herself up to it, and how she’s willing to protect others even at her own expense. With each page we watch her transform. Jackaby is a great character, and I really like the side characters in this book as well, but my favorite is clearly Abigail Rook.
In my opinion this book is perfect and I’m eager to read the next one, Beastly Bones, and have even picked up the #1.5 called The Map: A Jackaby Story to put on my TBR pile. This is a book that’s earned it’s 5/5 rating and I recommend reading.