Written by William Ritter
Read by Nicola Barber
Series: Jackaby #1
Published by Algonquin Young Readers, HighBridge
Publication Date: September 16th 2014
Genres: Historical, Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult
Length: 7 hrs and 21 mins
Source: Los Angeles Public Library
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Challenges: 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge, 2017 Review Challenge
“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.
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Hello, Paranormal! I absolutely enjoyed this book so much and I can’t believe I waited a couple of years before I read this book! I mean, it has been on my TBR pile for the longest time! I also have a physical copy of this book but I decided to go for the audiobook version, which I DO NOT regret at all!
I mean, picture Sherlock Holmes in America during the late 1800s with a touch of the paranormal! And of course, I LOVE a good Sherlock Holmes retelling. Not sure that this is a retelling, though but it does feel like it. And it ticked all my favorite boxes!
Unusual characters, check!
A little bit of the supernatural, check!
A mystery, check!
Set in the late 1800s, check!
A quick read, check!
The main character is Abigail Rook, who left her home to join a dig which fell through. She finds herself in New England and is in search of a job. She finds an posting for an assistant to one R. F. Jackaby. Now, Jackaby is such an unusual character. Think, Johnny Depp in all his quirky roles. Jackaby is a paranormal investigator who has an unusual way of investigating cases. He and Abigail stumble upon a Jack the Ripper-esque series of murders.
Oh, and did I mention that there is a lady ghost and a duck who used to be human? Plus a really weird (and intriguing) house? Ah!
I also liked the twist in the end. I did not see who the villain was! I mean, View Spoiler »I initially thought it was Marlowe (the Inspector), but it turned out to be the Commissioner! « Hide Spoiler I know, I suck at guessing who the villain was. I liked how Ritter treated this story.
The only bad thing I didn’t really like about this was the romance. It felt like an afterthought. I also did not see any chemistry between Abigail and Charlie Cane, a policeman who was investigating the murders. His and Abigail’s romance felt tacked on and was added because a YA book has to have a romance. Meeeh. The book would have been better without the slight romance between these two.
So. Quick read. It is about 7 hours long on audio and the story also took place in a span of 3-4 days. The plot was fast paced and I also liked the slow parts (which wasn’t a lot).
Would I read the other books in the series? HECK yes! I want more Jackaby and Abigail!
As far as the narrator, Nicola Barber is AMAZING! I like her pacing, and I loved how she pronounced Rook as R. F. Jackaby! Her narration actually lifted the whole story to another level, which was another plus for me.
Her voice for Abigail is also very good. I did not feel like it was annoying, which is my usual problem in YA.
Books Like Jackaby
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco – Another historical YA that is inspired by the Jack the Ripper murders. The heroine is a medical assistant and the opening scene was gruesome AMAZEBALLS!
Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd – Another book set in 1800s London and is a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It also features paranormal elements and a mystery!
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare – This is The Mortal Instruments spin-off that is also set in the late 1800s in London and features a lot of paranormal and steampunk elements.
The Sherlock Holmes retellings that I have read have been meh for me. But with this book, I want to read more!
Do you have any amazing Sherlock Holmes retelling? DO TELL!