Friday, February 6, 2015



by William Ritter


"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 a debut novel, the first in a series, brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

My Thoughts:

JACKABY provides an enthralling 19th-century setting and an incredibly unique title character readers will fall in love with.  Jackaby is told through the voice of Abigail Rook, a young woman who, inspired by her father’s paleontological expeditions, leaves her boarding school to escape her parent’s expectations in search of adventure.  When her trip to a dinosaur dig in the Carpathian Mountains falls apart, Abigail purchases passages with her few remaining coins to New England.  Upon arriving in the city of New Fiddleham with a suitcase of inappropriate attire, little money and no prospects, Abigail meets R.F. Jackaby, a private detective who specializes in spectacular and unexplainable phenomena. With his strange attire, quirky nature and claim that he can see supernatural beings, Jackaby is quite the spectacle. Despite her initial impressions and cautions from several townspeople to stay away from Jackaby, Abigail accepts the assistant position and accompanies Jackaby to his next case.  Jackaby’s quirky disposition and oblivion to social norms both charm and captivate readers.  Abigail’s attention to the everyday serves as a foil to Jackaby’s paranormal perception and make the two a perfect duo.  The cast of side characters, both human and supernatural, are equally engaging.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jackaby. Ritter's debut novel is well deserving of the starred reviews it has received from Kirkus, Booklist and School Library Journal.  It is a cleverly written, fun read with quirky but loveable characters.   I highly recommend this book for those readers who enjoy witty dialogue, magic, folklore, mystery and adventure.