My rating:2 of 5 stars
Publication Date: September 16th, 2014
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Point of View: 1st Person & Female
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Historical , Mystery, Paranormal
“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.
What a let down this book was.
I was so bored. And it had to do with the story, not the writing or Jackaby himself. He was great. Strange and not always understandable, but different and fascinating. Not the sort of character we encounter in every read.
His eyes looked like they could be a hundred lifetimes old, but he bore an otherwise young countenance and had a fervent energy about him.
Sherlock Jackaby! I wonder if I was the only one calling him Jackabbey or Jackbaby here and there. Especially when reading fast. My mind just processed those names instead of his real one and that…pretty often.
So, really, he wasn’t the problem. It’s the dull mystery case that literally put me to sleep. I was alternating my read of this book with Scarlet because I really didn’t want to leave Jackaby half unread due to boredom. Who knows, maybe the sequel’s mystery will blow me away and, by DNFing, I would lose my chance to be impressed. Plus, I loved that detective!
‘‘I think you must be a bit confused,’’ he said. ‘‘But don’t feel bad—it’s a common state. Most people are.’’
I’ve included in this review some Jackaby quotes because he was wonderfully showing a great sense of humour (often without meaning to) and was a character worth knowing about. And I understand the author’s choice of not making him a main one – I absolutely do – but, sincerely, our Abigail was just so…dull and insipid. She did ‘‘participate’’ in the story and have her place in it and a certain mild role during scenes, but I barely noticed her and often forgot that she was even there. Usually, characters such as Abigail can be interesting because some can allow you to simply push them aside and (mentally) take their own place in the book, like it happened to me with Ana from Fifty Shades of Grey and Kelsey from Tiger’s Curse. But not Abigail. I couldn’t do that with her, but that may be because it didn’t interest me at all to help solve that boring case. It might all have been more intriguing – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – if there were no paranormal elements. There, I said it. I think they confused me more than anything else, since the world-building was barely explained. I usually can’t get enough of ‘‘paranormal’’ as theme, but, in this context, the story was better without it, in my opinion.
‘‘Monsters are easy, Miss Rook. They’re monsters. But a monster in a suit? That’s basically just a wicked man, and a wicked man is a more dangerous thing by far.’’
Another problem I had with this book is that we didn’t know much about any of the characters. I mean, I adored Jackaby’s personality and the way he interacted with others and spoke, but I did wish to also know some personal information about him. In the next book, perhaps?
So, for that – for Jackaby – I’ll keep on reading this series, disappointment or not.
PS. There was no romance! Another thing that the sequel might include…Let’s hope.