by William Ritter
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on September 16, 2014
Genres: Young Adult Paranormal
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“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.
Set in New Fiddleham, New England 1892, R.F. Jackaby is an investigator with a strange connection to the paranormal. The locals either think he is crazy or are devoted followers. Abigail Rook arrives in New Fiddleham looking for adventure and needs employment. When Abigail answers Jackaby’s job ad for an assistant she begins the adventure she’s been longing for – a murder mystery in New Fiddleham. Jackaby reluctantly has Abigail follow him to the crime scene, all the time expecting her to flee like his previous assistants. But to his surprise Abigail is intelligent and has a keen sense of observation (especially for the ordinary facts that Jackaby seems to miss). The two form a partnership, balancing the paranormal and normal facts of the case, and are determined to solve the mystery.
The book does start off slow but the longer Jackaby and Abigail work together I became glued to the book. The story was exciting with surprising twists I couldn’t stop reading! I loved the action and the mystery of the story. But most of all I loved Jackaby and Abigail and their humorous relationship. Jackaby is the serious Sherlock Holmes from the classic novels but the author created a unique character that is charming and clever. He does have a difficult time of dealing with normal humans but just when you don’t expect it he shows a side of him that is attentive and caring. Abigail is a strong, intelligent and independent young woman. I liked that Jackaby treats Abigail with respect and appreciates her intellect. The two work well together to solve the mystery and the author had me laughing throughout the book.
Abigail – “Are those pictograms? What’s that bit you just finished? The one that looks like a goose tugging at a big of string?”
Jackaby – “That’s a seven.”
Jackaby is well-written and I enjoyed the author’s creativity. The story was a little predictable but I still enjoyed this. I can’t wait to read the next book.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Winter 2014-2015