Monday, August 21, 2017

Book Review: The Dire King by William Ritter

Title: The Dire King
Series: Jackaby #4
Written by: William Ritter 
Published: August 22, 2017 by Algonquin Young Readers

(Amazon / Goodreads)

SynopsisThe thrilling conclusion to the New York Times best-selling series the Chicago Tribune called “Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer” sends the eccentric detective and his indispensible assistant into the heart of a war between magical worlds. 

 The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether. 

The epic conclusion to the New York Times best-selling Jackaby series features sly humor and a quirky cast of unforgettable characters as they face off against their most dangerous, bone-chilling foe ever.

*** I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher in an exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I can't believe this series is over! I am such a huge fan of this series. It's the perfect blend of humor, adventure, mystery, and magic. I was over the moon when I was sent a copy for review from the publisher. And it did not disappoint, it was a good ending to this amazing series.

I have always loved this series for the way it is able to balance the historical fiction elements with the supernatural fantasy elements. And this book continued to do that really well. I typically like my historical fantasy to not go to hard with the fantasy elements. I like it to be grounded in reality and the actual history. But Jackaby manages to perfectly walk that like while have a totally massive fantasy world. But it think it is able to do that so well because the fantasy elements are rooted in mythology and fairy tales. It gives it this great classic charm that blends so well with the historical New England setting. I really love the setting in this series and brings able to explore it a little more in this book was definitely one of the highlights for me.

My favorite thing about this series is probably the characters. In the course of four books I have become so attached to these characters, from the narrator to the smallest secondary character. They are all so fun, interesting, and compelling. Because this was the last book in the series many of the secondary characters from the previous books were able to come back in a big way to help the fight. I loved being able to see folks like Hatun, Hammett, Mona O'Connor, Hank Hudson, and the Fair Folk from the Anwynn. There were some great callbacks and conclusions to stories from the previous books.

Of course the main characters are the most interesting. I really love Abigail. I love her easy-going attitude, quick thinking intellect, and thirst for adventure. She's a great protagonist and narrator. And she really had some fantastic growth in this book. I loved seeing her in action. Then of course there is Jackaby. I have become accustomed to but no less entertained by that trademark Jackaby wit. I'm not usually a fan of Sherlock Holmes type characters but Jackaby I love. And love him I did in this book. He also had some great development and was incredibly heroic in the best possible way. Speaking of heroic, Charlie Cane. Oh Charlie, I am such a fan of his too. By my favorite character has always been Jenny. She's the perfect foil for Jackaby and the perfect compliment for Abigail. I love seeing her kick butt and go toe to toe with everyone from Jackaby to an antagonist. But all these characters are just incredibly likeable. You can't but connect with them and their struggle.

And struggle they did. This is a book with a plot where nothing goes right. The stakes her are incredibly high and I was on edge from the very first page until the very last page. It's the kind of end of the world narrative that always pulls me in and keeps me reading. There was all kinds of action scenes too, which kept me engaged throughout the entire book. I will say though that I think that the excessive amount of action sacrificed some of the mystery of the book. I have always loved this series for its solvable mysteries with big twists that you can figure out along with the characters. And that was not the case with this book. There were surprises and twists but they didn't strike the same cords as some of the more action-packed scenes. And I do still feel like there are some unresolved questions. I would have liked more of a balance there.

But what the book did balance well is the funny moments with the emotional moments. This is a series that has always been funny and irreverent. It doesn't take it self too seriously and I love that about it. Even when it's making a point about human nature, acceptance, and prejudice, it does it in a way that doesn't seem preachy because it does it with humor and poise. But it also has plenty of emotion behind it all. This is the last book in the series so there were plenty of emotional moments. The entire last 40 pages of the book had me a sobbing mess of emotions and when it was all over I was completely wrecked. I just wasn't ready to say goodbye. And based on that ending, I am hoping we don't have to because I am desperately in need of more.

On the whole, The Dire King was a great series ender for a series that I am completely in love with. It has a fantastic setting full of history and magic, characters who are likable and complex, a plot full of action and adventure, and the perfect balance of humor and emotion.

I give The Dire King by William Ritter 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you like this series at all, you need to finish it. It's not wholy satisfying but it is still a great ending. I absolutely loved it. And if you have not read this series, you need to. I recommend it to everyone.

Have you read The Dire King? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

P.S. Totally come back on Thursday when I have a super exciting post for the blog tour of The Dire King. Trust me. If you enjoy Jackaby, the book and the character, you are going to want to come back.


  1. I have only read the first book, but I plan to read the rest, because it was so good. I agree - great characters and that balance of emotions that I always require. Great review!

    1. Thanks, Sam! Oh you definitely have to finish the series. Now that all the books are out it is the perfect time.