Young Adult Book Review: Jackaby 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 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.

Book Details

Jackaby by William Ritter
Jackaby Series Book #1
Young Adult Fiction / Paranormal / Historical
Published September 16th 2014 by Algonquin Young Readers
Hardcover, 299 pages
Source: Bought
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars



JACKABY is one of those books that cleverly crosses the threshold of age branding, delivering a quick and entertaining read with a Dr. Who meets Sherlock Holmes in William Ritter's sleuthing character - the eccentric R. F. Jackaby. There's plenty of satire, supernatural shenanigans, and a mad serial killer on the lose to keep adults intrigued, and as eager in anticipation as their younger reading counterparts.

I've had my eye on Jackaby with the eye-catching cover, but also the mix of supernatural vs logic that I hoped to find in Mr. Jackaby's character, who did not disappoint in the least.

One of the best features of Jackaby is its strong characterization, with a witty, often cheeky interactions between Jackaby and his new assistant Ms. Abigail Rook. The dialogue between these two gave me many smiles. Jackaby with the gift to see the supernatural world about him creates an oddball character, with off-the-wall habits, ones that confound Ms. Rook at first giving way to lots of entertainment. I was also surprised on how much I enjoyed the story coming from Abigail's perspective, which added a wonderful insight into Jackaby's character.

Jackaby, with his "ugly hat", a coat-of-many-pockets, and overall shoddy appearance hides a razor-sharp mind with an affinity for "seeing" those odd mythological creatures one might find in a Grimm's tale or dark fable. His no-nonsense attitude, when given the strange and unexplained, is charming and endears himself to the reader easily.

Ms. Rook, Abigail, is fresh off the boat from abroad, her first steps in America soon lead her to more adventure than anticipated, as she soon finds herself the assistant to R. F. Jackaby and the unexplainable. With an eye for details and a daring attitude, she is a perfect match and partner to Jackaby. Smart, a heroine not afraid to take matters into her own hands, she finds the world Jackaby opens up to her one that she seems to only forget as a child, magical and just within reach.

I loved the paranormal world created in Jackaby and the unexpectedly odd house he lives and works in, one that is as quirky as Jackaby is. I love odd houses in stories. Ones that reflect a character or become one itself and the house that appears in this story does just that. Filled with odd nooks and crannies, ghost, creatures, and paranormal clutter, I loved it as much as the mystery brewing outside its doors.

In the End

Overall, Jackaby was a charming, quirky, and highly atmospheric read with two characters that I ended adoring. With just the right blend of mystery and suspense to keep me guessing for the most part. I'm excited to read the next installment and once again enter Jackaby's enchanting realm.

Book ReviewsKimComment