Thursday, September 4, 2014

ARC Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

Title: Jackaby
Author: William Ritter
Published: September 16, 2014 by Algonquin
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Synopsis: “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 a debut novel, the first in a series, brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

This book is Historical Fantasy about a supernatural detective and has been pitched as Sherlock meets Doctor Who. Naturally, I'm interested. I was hooked on Jackaby from the very start. But before the review, first I have a confession. I have only seen a few episodes of either show this book is compared to (runs and hides from the rioters). Are they gone? Good. Let me explain myself. Doctor Who freaks me out a little bit, I have this irrational fear of aliens. I tried, twice, to get into it but I just can't. Sherlock definitely interests me more, I mean Benedict Cumberbatch, but I just haven't had the time or energy to marathon it all, but I will. That being said, I can't say with any certainty how similar the book is to either of these things and for me I think that was a good thing, because for me it was unlike any book I have read. Jackaby is was quirky, engaging, full of fantastic characters and a thrilling plot.

 Perhaps my favorite thing about this book was the world. What William Ritter did so well is combine elements of Fantasy and mythology with elements of hard-boiled crime novels. It was like all that Scooby Doo I watched as a child. Meddling kids searching for clues to track down a ghost/supernatural being who is wreaking havoc. But unlike Scooby Doo it wasn't just some disgruntled old man behind the mask. There were so many classic elements to the supernatural in the world of New Shoreham that made things both lighthearted and complex. Whether it was a man who would rather be a duck, a ghost for a roommate, or a banshee things were not at all what they seemed. Every time we met or learned more about a certain supernatural being it was like diving into Harry Potter's Care of Magical Creatures textbook. But nothing felt outrageous and out of place, it served to make things mysterious and unique.

It wasn't just the world that made things lighthearted and unique. The characters too were a perfect blend of quirky and likable. The titular character, R.F. Jackaby was like so many detectives that came before him. He is clearly a little too smart for his own good, resourceful, and able to see what others cannot making him perfect for solving these crimes. But he is also haughty, wry and says exactly what he thinks. Abigail, our narrator, is his perfect foil. While also being smart and saying exactly what she thinks, Abigail is the realist and even pessimist in the partnership. She's prickly and untrusting and keeps Jackaby grounded. They had a fantastic dynamic and I loved the banter between them. The book was also full of interesting and complex secondary characters that rounded out the cast of characters making the book so engaging and unique.

All of this combined with a tongue and cheek writing style and a thrilling plot made the book a quick and fun read. After a few books that took me far longer than I expected to read I just devoured Jackaby. I read a lot of mysteries, a lot of books where I can solve the twist pretty early on. Jackaby was no exception. However it didn't prevent me from enjoying the book at all. The mystery was solvable and had me invested in reading it to the conclusion. For a debut the book was expertly paced and plotted and really built to that thrilling conclusion and even threw some surprising at me along the way. Not to mention that the book was full of action and adventure that kept me turning the pages and waiting to see what would happen next.

And I really hope that there will be a next! I can't accurately express how much I adored this book. It was the perfect book to read after a bunch of slow and sad books. I fell for Jackaby in this book and I'm really hoping that there will be more books to fall even further in love.

I give Jackaby by WIlliam Ritter  10 out 10 stars

It was a thrilling and creative book with a tongue and cheek writing style, fun and quirky characters, and an exciting plot with a solvable mystery. I loved it from beginning to end and it is one of my favorite books of the year so far. All of the stars to Jackaby!

If you are a fan of mysteries or SciFi/Fantasy novels with quirky characters and thrilling plots then check this book out. If you are looking for something lighthearted and unique then check this book out. If you are a fan of Doctor Who and/or Sherlock then check this book out (and tell me if I should watch them because I loved this book).

1 comment:

  1. Don't feel too bad about not seeing those shows. Doctor Who is amazing, but it can be pretty overwhelming! I can't get into Sherlock - it takes a little too much brain power - but I do love Benedict Cumberbatch! Anyway, this book sounds awesome! I've already taken a side trip to Goodreads to add it to my TBR list. Thank you so much for the review because I never would've known about it!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds