*Disclaimer: This review may contain spoilers. All thoughts and opinions are my own, my preferences may be different to yours. Please keep that in mind.
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 the foul deeds are the work of the kind of creature whose very existence the local authorities–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–seem adamant to deny.
-From Algonquin Young Readers
I find that I really enjoy a story that has unique or quirky characters in it. And I think I hit the jackpot with R.F. Jackaby an investigator who can see what no one else can. Right off the bat, there are some Sherlock Holmes vibes. He is a scatterbrained genius that likes to annoy the local police. And then there is Abigail Rook, a ‘runaway’ from England just look for dinosaurs and adventure. She doesn’t mind doing what needs to be done and I really like her. Plus she is running from family expectations, I feel that.
I am clearly on a streak for some murder mysteries cause of course a murder occurs that gets the whole ball rolling. And add the supernatural element to it, I was hooked. It was interesting to see multiple perspectives/reactions to what Jackaby can see. Not just the usual you’re lying, making it all up, or crazy shtick. There are some that like Abigail just goes, “Okay then… Whatever” and some that seem even more receptive and acknowledge that there is something there. And let me just say… what a gruesome murder it was.
Getting into the supernatural side of things in this series was… eye-opening? I don’t know how to describe it beyond, fascinating. I think I have been so conditioned to a very limited breadth of supernatural creatures that I wasn’t really prepared for the inclusion of Banshees. I feel bad for them and have a new level of appreciation for them. Justice for banshees.
And then we get to meet some more secondary characters, the ones that live in the house and oooooh my lord. There is a ghost! It’s her old house! What! And there is a duck archivist. I wanna be a duck archivist. Wow. Okay. I am in love. With these characters. There is some history there. A past that has yet to be disclosed.
Let me talk about Jackaby again. I feel like he is a Sherlock Holmes meets David Tennant as the tenth doctor combo with just a dash of something else I haven’t placed… yet. But I will. His interactions with Marlowe amuse me to no end. And this commissioner fellow, Swift… yeah he’s up to no good. And holy sh*t are they trying to hint that Cane is a werewolf?!
I’ll try to spoil too much, but I freaking called it. I called it! The build-up to the climactic event and then the climactic event itself did not disappoint in the slightest. It was thrilling.
The ending itself was very satisfying. Abigail finally gets her adventure and I really enjoyed how well she stood up for herself and handled Jackaby trying to ‘keep her safe’. And the fact that Jackaby accepted it willingly was a good end to it.
I am giving Jackaby by William Ritter a five out of five cups of tea rating.
The story itself read very fast in my opinion. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it. I like the commentary on women in the late 1800s and how Abigail Rook faced and dealt with the prejudices of the time. I think Ritter did a good job acknowledging what they went through cause it made me get all riled up even though I understood 1) it’s just a story and 2)it was a different time. I mean hell, people were so rude to young women, and clearly, they can do nothing right (if you are unsure that is sarcasm).
I am looking forward to the rest of the series. And my hopes are that in the sequels we will see more from Abigail’s family. And more on Jenny and Douglas’s background too. They were perfect secondary characters that helped balance some more awkward plot points and help move the plot forward without seeming overwhelming.
The was a good mix of humor with the violence laced throughout. It never leaned fully into horror or overly gruesome and it never too the comedy too far. Overall it was very well balanced. It helped keep the quirkiness that I think makes this series so good stay pure and truly quirky.
Finally, on the supernatural element… It wasn’t what I was anticipating. It was genuinely different then what I will call mainstream supernatural. With the use of banshees, Redcaps, and Caini. It was refreshing to see a different take/ perspective on the supernatural element in a mystery. Don’t get me wrong, I love Supernatural and Buffy and all that but this was new. And exciting.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s book review! If you’ve read Jackaby let me know what you thought. Or if you have any recommendations I am always open to hearing them!