Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers (September 16, 2014)
Hardcover: 299 pages
Add on: Goodreads
Rating: 2 of 5 stars

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.


You know how there are some books you know what songs are perfect for that particular book when you’re reading? While reading Jackaby I can hear the Sherlock soundtrack in my head, which makes sense because it was pitched as Doctor Who meets Sherlock after all and it doesn’t fail in that aspect. Even though Jackaby has his own distinctive voice, I can picture him as Sherlock and it’s obvious that Abigail Rook is supposed to be John Watson and maybe with a touch of Martha Jones. There’s this one episode…in Blink I believe…that Martha tells that one guy just nod your head while he’s on one of his tangents. It reminded me of what Abigail is doing throughout the book.

However, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Abigail. She felt tomboyish and I liked that there’s nothing stopping her from going after what she wants (to be Jackaby’s assistant) despite what the populace has to say about it. It was interesting to see from her perspective because girls in that era didn’t have much of a say in their occupation; jobs for them were hard to come by, so when she sees Jackaby’s ad she takes the chance to pursue it.

I think what bugged me the most about Abigail was that  any other people would freak out about the supernaturals when Jackaby tells them that he believes in them, but Abigail is like that’s fine that you got some weird supernatural inhabitants living with you and you think that the case involves faeries etc etc. The thing about Abigail is that she’s calm and collected throughout the novel. I wanted to tell her you’re supposed to freak out and not just stand there and go along with whatever Jackaby says. But, I really enjoyed the development of Jackaby’s and Abigail’s friendship. There’s no romance between them. They’re honest to goodness platonic friends, which doesn’t happen much during the Victorian society. I mean back then if you’re seen accompany with a guy they’re probably you’re boyfriend or your relatives of sort, which I believe that there had been a couple of people warning Abigail about staying away from Jackaby. And this book definitely had that Victorian atmosphere. I liked how in one of the chapters there’s this woman who tells her that she’s making a mistake being with Jackaby and Abigail is like we’re just friends.

As much as I enjoyed it, this book sometimes fell flat to me and ended up dragging a bit. There were times that I didn’t care about the characters. While I really wanted to like it because it was pitched as Doctor Who meets Sherlock (two of my favorite shows), I wished that there was a little more…unique…I don’t know…? The description of the book is pretty vague, but I really wanted to like it. I’ll have to reread it later to see if my opinions have changed.

Author: Jackie

0 Replies to “Review: Jackaby by William Ritter”

  1. I was really excited about the book based on the premise but the majority of reviews seem to find it as good but a bit eh. So disappointing! I’ll probably still read it but it’s not at the top of my list. Great review! I love Martha Jones. I think she’s the most underrated companion.

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