Thursday, August 18, 2016

Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter

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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.

I did it! I finally read Jackaby and I am so happy!! This has been on my TBR pile for some time. I guess it's the cover and the idea that it has a fun take on Sherlock Holmes that attracted me to it. Once I met William Ritter at BEA16 this past May I was convinced that I had to get on this soon.

Free-spirited Abigail Rook arrives in New Fiddleham where she knows no one and has no prospects. Little does she realize that when she applies for a job as Jackaby's assistant that she'll get that adventure she's been yearning for. I liken Jackaby's personality to Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, except without the extreme social inadequacies. Yes, he's quirky and sometimes his mouth lands him in hot water (there's one scene where he unintentionally offends an Irish lady that had me laughing so hard!) but the guy means well. Jackaby, with all his oddities, doesn't even care that he's considered a weirdo. On the other hand, Abigail keeps running into people who either advise her to steer clear of his company or being that she's a woman, she's too frail for such work. There's always a jab - subtle or otherwise - about women and their roles in society and what's socially acceptable. Having no intentions of being a "proper" lady, Abigail is proud to defy these conventional norms. Her keen eye for detail and natural curiosity compliment Jackaby's general outlandish approach to their cases indicating that a career in investigative services just might be her calling. With mysterious deaths and evil afoul, there's plenty to keep them busy and on the move.

Jackaby and Abigail make an excellent team and it's their chemistry that gives the story its charm. They have the best banter and perfect comedic timing. Abigail gets Jackaby almost instantly and I got an immense kick out of seeing their interaction play out. But they're not the only amusing characters. There's also an exacerbated police officer, a ghost and a duck. Yes, a duck. You'll just have to read to find out.

The 19th century setting is a perfect place to lay out this fun, fantastical world filled with magical or mystical creatures. I enjoyed every moment I spent reading it. I'd even pause several times to share the more hilarious passages aloud to my kids and I can't wait for them to read it, too.  Jackaby is an entertaining read for all ages and I definitely recommend it!

~ Bel

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