books / writing

Book Review – Jackaby by William Ritter

I’d heard about Jackaby by William Ritter well over a year ago (when it was still in hardback). As I suck, and still have not read any Sherlock Holmes (I KNOW?!), but enjoy the various renditions of the classic detective in film and television, I thought this sounded really fun.

Blurb from goodreads:

“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.

Doctor Who meets Holmes is a really good description. There were times that Jackaby acted just like the 10th or 11th Doctor and it made me smile.

It did take me awhile to get into it. The writing is not stunning by any means, and I felt like Ritter’s understanding of females enough to write a female narrator was lacking.  There were moments, jolting moments, where the narrator would have a more feminine train of thoughts (outfits, good looking men, etc.) and not that we girls don’t think like that, but it just would happen when I expected Abigail to be focused and the much more interesting scene in front of her (usually a crime scene or strange suspect/witness). I eventually got into the story as it picked up and the mere intrigue about the case took over any flaws in the writing and characterization.

The supernatural part is fun. It’s familiar and different. Doctor Who in this case is a misnomer as it doesn’t not deal (in this book anyway) with aliens, or the like. It’s more Grimm, or Buffy in terms of its supernatural elements. There’s violence and death, but I wasn’t horrified even though maybe a person with more sensitivity might be put off.

I really like Jackaby and his house and those beings that live in it. He really is the best part.

This book was strong enough by the end that I’m curious about the next story, the next case and where the relationship with Abigail and Jackaby goes (it’s not romantic which makes me so happy).

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