I have had a long week. Usually, I have all my blog posts written and scheduled for the week by Monday, but this week I didn’t write at all (my Survive the Night review was written and ready two weeks prior to posting) and it tossed me out of the groove. Luckily I have an enormous backlog of finished reviews on my Goodreads prepared for this very occasion.
This review originally appeared on my Goodreads page on February 20, 2015.
“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.
Personal Enjoyment: ●●●○○
Writing Quality: ●●●●○
I was sucked into the book much in the same way that many other readers were: the blatant connection to Doctor Who and Sherlock in the blurb. I thought that was a little bit of a ridiculous stretch, because nothing could meet that high of a standard, so I set it aside until I cleared any expectations from my mind, and I’m so happy that I did.
This book is, in form, a little like Doctor Who and Sherlock. It is about a very average, but observant young lady getting swept up quite coincidentally into a world of supernatural adventure by a man who’s far more than meets the eye. This book doesn’t take itself too seriously. In fact, it very obviously pokes fun at itself and its Sherlockian title character pretty early on. It was self-aware and that made it a lot more enjoyable to read.
This is definitely told more like a Middle Grade story in that it focuses more on events and the adventure itself than inward character development (comparable to Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan). I really enjoyed all the characters, and they made the story more interesting, but they don’t exactly have any real moral dilemmas or internal crises in this book. And honestly, I am totally okay with that.
My one complaint is that it takes place over such a short period of time that it’s not exactly unbelievable, but definitely induced an eye-roll or two. The same events could have happened over even the course of a week and I think it would have made it a stronger story than the two-days included.
Also, Chapter 13. WHAT HAPPENED IN CHAPTER THIRTEEN??
Overall, this was a fun, extremely fast, adventurous read. Very quirky and likable and I am definitely looking forward to continuing with later books. At this point, I could picture being happy with as many as five more books following the same formula.
Beastly Bones, the second in the Jackaby series, is scheduled for publication on September 22, 2015, by Algonquin Young Readers.