[REVIEW] Jackaby

Series: N/A
Author: William Ritter
young adult, historical fiction, detective, mystery, thriller, supernatural, paranormal
September 16, 2014
Algonquin Young Readers
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes&Noble
“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.

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This world is full of dragon-slayers. What we need are a few more people who aren’t too proud to listen to a fish.
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I picked up Jackaby because reading through the blurb gave me the same feeling as Cormoran Strike. And somehow I’m not disappointed. But expectations aside, Jackaby was a really great read.

The Mystery! It’s a murder mystery right off the bat. Crime fiction is always about that, yeah? Murder mysteries are always so intriguing and thrilling. Jackaby’s twist is that there’s a supernatural element involved. The murder was immediately revealed in the first 50 pages or so. The crime scene was nicely described and the way Jackaby just made more snooping around the crime scene made things a lot more intriguing.

Solving the Case. Jackaby opens with Abigail Rook running away from home and ending up being employed by an infamous detective snooping around a murder case, R.F. Jackaby. It’s a strong start, in my opinion – Jackaby on his way to see a murder, Rook immediately being keen on her first day.

As mentioned, the first investigation Jackaby conducted was very interesting. I like all the details and how it somehow resembles the grotesque descriptions in the Silkworm. Jackaby is also a pretty thrilling read. While the first moments of the investigation would plainly make you think and maybe even be interested in some of Jackaby’s supernatural knowledge, about half of the novel things would just get so thrilling. It just made me read every word in the book hoping that I won’t miss a thing because I really want to know who it is before it is revealed. One of my favorite parts in mystery novels is knowing what really happened and who’s behind what. Isn’t that what we’re all after? Isn’t that why we read mystery novels? 

Jackaby being this snooping detective while talking about how thing are done by a supernatural being and still considering himself as a man of science and logic made him a very interesting character. Aside from that, Jackaby’s odd interest in the value of things rather than how they look in him made him standout for me. I kept on thinking what his hat (was it a hat?) must have looked like for real. Rook, the heroine, on the other hand, is a pretty good and strong heroine, in my opinion. I love her adventurous nature and how she’s pretty much true to herself.

Now let’s talk about my issues on Jackaby. The first thing that came to my mind while reading  Jackaby is why is he investigating in the first place since I don’t remember him being hired by someone (or something like that). Quoting what a commenter in goodreads told me, “He doesn't always work for hire, it just happens that his gifts enable him to do a job, but whether he is paid or not, it's still his duty to investigate paranormal crimes and protect the community from continuing danger.” It does make sense in my opinion but I wish that it was somehow stated. But anyway, it’s not so much of a deal when you’re too absorbed with the investigation in hand.

Another thing is that Rook’s involvement in the investigation didn’t really make a change on how Jackaby does things. While Jackaby did acknowledge Rook’s observation skills especially in seeing the most ordinary things, it didn’t really make so much impact in the investigation as a whole. But it’s very easy to overlook especially if you focus on how nice Rook’s voice is as a heroine and how she talks about Jackaby. So yeah, I forgive that too.

Revelation. It’s not really a big plot twist to me. In fact, it didn’t even surprise me in any way but Jackaby’s explanations about who the murderer is is pretty nice and maybe even well thought of. How it was revealed was quite thrilling. At some point it made me wonder what Jackaby was trying to do, but I just read through and enjoyed the events that lead to the revelation of the murderer.

The conclusion was very lovely. I really have to note that. And I’d love to read more of Jackaby and Rook.

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What I Like: (1) the premise, (2) Jackaby and Rook, (3) the descriptions of the scenes particularly the murder scenes, (4) the supernatural elements of the mystery, (5) the thrilling way it is told (it’s like a race against the murderer), (6) Rook’s voice, (7) the great explanation, (8) the lovely conclusion

What I Didn’t Like: (1) how Rook’s work as an assistant didn’t exactly matter, (2) the lack of development on the murderer himself, (3) THAT IT’S NOT A SERIES! (I REALLY WISH THAT THIS IS A SERIES)

great combination of crime fiction and supernatural + thrilling execution + great characters = MUST READ! 

~this book was provided in exchange for an honest review~

goodreads | twitter | Algoquin author page 
William Ritter began writing Jackaby in the middle of the night when his son was still an infant. After getting up to care for him, Will would lie awake, his mind creating rich worlds and fantasies – such as the one in New Fiddleham. Will lives and teaches in Springfield, Oregon. Jackaby is his first novel.
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