Book Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

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I was sold on Jackaby by William Ritter by the publisher’s description alone: “Doctor Who meets Sherlock” — but when the book held-up to this comparison and far-exceeded my expectations? Well, you can call me a fan – a BIG fan.

jackaby“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.

With a macabre crime investigation, witty banter, unexpected humor, and distinctly likeable characters, Jackaby won me over from the first page to the very last.

The publisher’s Doctor Who/Sherlock description is apt — with Jackaby’s Sherlock-like crime-solving skills and quirky Doctor-esque mannerisms, with Abigail serving as a sort of Watson/Doctor’s companion role with aplomb. And yet, as referential as Jackaby is to these comparisons — the book remains wholly unique. Jackaby, as a character, is fully realized — as is his plucky companion and our assertive narrator, Abigail, a thoroughly modern woman trapped in the 19th century.

I was enchanted by every moment in Jackaby, and when I wasn’t reading it, longed to return to its pages. And much as I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next — I wanted to prolong the reading experience as much as possible, so as to savor Ritter’s world and his characters all the more.

Jackaby is in stores September 16th.

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