Sunday, July 5, 2015

Review: "Jackaby" by William Ritter


Title: Jackaby

Author: William Ritter

Genre: Victorian Supernatural

Publication: May 9, 2015

Pages: 361


“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.

Auggie's Review

Entertaining/ Pleasant Read
The entire book read like an extremely long Dr. Who episode. In fact, I had the distinct feeling that Matt Smith's Dr. Who character must have been inspiration for Jackaby. If not, then they most certainly have an almost identical personality. I would like to state that I had not heard that this book was being considered very much a Dr. Who X Sherlock mashup. Just discovered that little tidbit in the other reviews on Goodreads (Even though it was apparently listed QUITE OBVIOUSLY in the synopsis on Goodreads. It seems I pay little attention). I felt like the Dr. Who part of it was way more obvious than the Sherlock. Abigail definitely felt more like a companion than a Watson.

Jackaby was the only interesting character, and though it's narrated by the quite plain Abigail the book is most certainly about the peculiar detective. That explains the title of the book, I suppose.

Abigail herself was almost achingly drab in comparison to her surroundings. That may have been the point, as Jackaby points out on at least two separate occasions that her penchant for noticing the uninteresting and dull was helpful. I felt like this book could have been a rather solid short story without all of the fluff in between.

Honestly, though, despite how slow I felt some parts were I did appreciate the touching upon myth and lore, though there certainly was no deeper discussion about it. Superficial but entertaining.

I rather like Jackaby as a character, though. He carried the entire book on his shoulders, which again, may have been the point of titling the book after him.

The writing wasn't even nearly bad so I did enjoy the read and I hope that the next book allows us a closer look at Abigail and her own peculiarities. I would like to see her come into herself and be extraordinary, instead of the dull, shy, and unsure woman that she seemed to be despite all of her put on assuredness and assertions that she was indeed an adventurer. I very much hope to see that side of her in the next installment.

Auggie is the 28 year old whirlwind owner of Auggie-Talk. A Teen Librarian and bibliobibuli by nature as well as a (potentially obsessive) lover of Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman. One can normally find Auggie neck deep in reading, writing, or daydreaming (sometimes all three at once).  She's also been known to drink too much caffeine and eat too many lemon flavored sweets.

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