Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Published: September 2014
Genre: young adult, fantasy, historical fiction, gothic, mystery
“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.
Abigail Rook had dreams of taking adventures around the world, following her father’s footsteps in archeology and unearthing history’s mysteries. But after a series of negative responses from friends and family, she decided to create her own adventure, and ended up in New Fiddleham where she met the extraordinary R.F. Jackaby, an investigator in supernatural occurrences and crimes. From the moment she steps through his door, the town erupts in mayhem: a serial killer is on the loose. Jackaby and Junior Detective Charlie Cane are convinced it’s a supernatural being, and though Abigail cannot see proof of it, neither can she see the villain as a human. Adventure has finally begin.
What an amazing genre-bender! It truly is a blend of Doctor Who and Sherlock, with the incredible supernatural events and beings — what’s even more, so many of these creatures are of various cultural lore — and sole Seer of the beings, and the obnoxiously intelligent and socially inept detective wrecking havoc around the police. Gosh, I loved Jackaby. I loved the way Abigail worked around him, too. Her wit and spunk really helped the two of them bounce ideas off one another, fight off unwanted attention, push aside those who didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t believe. Both were incredibly fun.
Reading this was like candy. Not too frightening, not too humorous, just the right amount of fantasy and realism, wit and logic. Any fan of either of those British shows would eat this up. I can’t go into too much detail, else I’ll spoil the book. Let’s just say I’m glad this is the first of a planned series. You can bet I’ll be buying the sequels.