Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

Posted April 22, 2021 by Lillian in Reviews / 1 Comment

Review: Jackaby by William RitterJackaby by William Ritter
Series: Jackaby #1
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on 2014-09-16
Length: 321 pages
Reviewing Kindle from Amazon
Reading Challenges: COYER 2021

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.

This book was a pleasant surprise. Jackaby by William Ritter is the first in the series by the same name. Set during the Victorian age, I expected a freaky paranormal mystery that would leave me jumping at noises and leaving all the lights on at night. That is not at all what this is! Jackaby is a quirky, paranormal mystery with similar themes and feel to classic Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes

Abigail Rook is a runaway, looking for adventure. Over the past year, she has explored Europe, and now she has settled into America. Looking for a job leads her to the mysterious paranormal investigator Jackaby. Determined to show her worth, Abigail joins Jackaby as he investigates a recent string of murders. With a keen eye for detail, she quickly becomes an asset rather than a hindrance as Jackaby has found his past assistants. I really like Abigail. The story is told entirely from her point of view, and I loved her narration. It reminded me a lot of Watson’s narrative, which grounded the story making it come to life. 

Jackaby is fantastic! I love him. He is quirky, like Matt Smith’s doctor quirky, and always one step ahead of everyone else. He sees beyond what most people see. He sees the hidden paranormal that surrounds everyday life. As one of the only people to see these things, Jackaby tasks himself with keeping the paranormal community in check. When something is off about a case or news story, he’s there to investigate it. In this particular case, the murder victims are missing their blood which is suspicious considering their wounds. With the help of his new assistant, he is on the case. 

I loved the world-building that the author integrates into the story. Jackaby’s unique abilities and Abigail’s sharp eye for detail work together well. While there is no romance between the two, the chemistry is wonderful. I love the dynamic between them and how they play off each other. It’s a believable, working relationship. The addition of the paranormal aspects set during a time when technology was just beginning to emerge is perfection. I really enjoyed how it is incorporated and how the setting plays just as important a role as the characters themselves. Jackaby wouldn’t work in contemporary times. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Jackaby. Abigail and Jackaby are a cohesive team, working with each other’s strengths. I enjoyed the mystery element as well. It wasn’t too scary, but left me guessing right to the end. If you enjoy paranormal mystery, period pieces, or looking for a fun read, I highly recommend it. 

COYER Community: I buddy read this with Lenore @ Celebrity Readers for April’s #COYER Book Club. She rated it a 4.5 star. She listened to the audiobook so if you are an audio reader, go check out her thoughts about the narration here.

About William Ritter

William Ritter is an author of YA and MG fantasy who made his debut in 2014 with the NYT bestselling Jackaby series. He is also an Oregon educator and a proud father of two.

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