The Dire King by William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Published: August 2017
Genre: young adult, fantasy, historical fiction, gothic
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.
A king in another realm is blending ancient magic with modern electricity, tearing down the veil between Earth and the Otherworld, wrecking havoc in its wake. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle, barely recovering from the recent attack in their home on Augur Lane. But if they don’t act soon, and listen the last words of warning from New Fiddleham’s parish priest, the world as they know it may collapse into chaos.
My initial thoughts when finishing this book were “OMGGGGG THAT WAS AWESOME AND UNEXPECTED BUT TOTALLY FITTING AND AHHHH.” Let’s shoot for some coherency now.
What started off as ridiculous good fun in Jackaby developed into something so much more — more than mystery and mayhem and mythology and cultural lore — what it also means to find love and hope in the midst of chaos and destruction. Abigail and Jackaby make one heck of a duo when it comes to solving crimes in New Fiddleham, with the assistance of ghost Jenny and cop/werewolf Charlie. But by this book, it’s more than a couple petty supernatural crimes — it’s a full-blown war with the Moriarty character, mending the veil between the mortal world and the world these creatures come from.
This series is full of mystery and adventure, a proper blend of Doctor Who and Sherlock, with wacky scenarios, intense circumstances, and heart-pounding plot. The romantic plots made me smile — they’re so sweet and seemingly innocent, oh-so-perfectly restrained because, you know, saving the world and all — and the ending was both surprising and fitting. In many ways it leaves the series open for a spin-off, but I would be happy ending the adventures of 926 Augur Lane right here!
If you haven’t already, I highly suggest reading Ritter’s Jackaby series. It’s humorous, genre-bending, adventurous, and remarkable!
(Oh, and never look at the frog. And don’t trust anything in Chapter Thirteen.)