Convince Me To Read (12): Jackaby by William Ritter

Posted May 14, 2016 by Jamie in Convince Me To Read, Features, Reviews // 1 Comment

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About Convince Me To Read Reviews

While we all have fairly similar tastes, sometimes we need a little push to read a certain book. The Convince Me to Read Review will be a review of the novel plus a section on why we think the others would enjoy it. It may lead to a Two Peas in a Pod Review!

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Convince Me To Read (12): Jackaby by William RitterJackaby by William Ritter
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on September 16th 2014
ISBN: 1616203536
Pages: 299

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“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.

Jamie’s review

I picked this up on a two for one sale on audible and was pretty excited but saw some not so great reviews from bloggers I trust and thought “oh no, did I waste a credit” but I actually really liked this one. I was a tad bit disappointed by the ending as I felt unfulfilled. It felt like there wasn’t a real solution and answer beyond saying “It was THIS creature!” I thought since this was a series there would be MORE rather than just a one off? But even just the way the case was solved left me feeling dissatisfied. It had this great big build up and then I had it figured out at 63%. I guess I was anticipating an overarching enemy to be explained/discovered/talked about, but that didn’t happen and left me a little confused and unsettled. It made the story feel incomplete.

I did like the relationship between Abigail and Jackaby, especially since it was platonic. I also really liked that Jackaby saw Abigail’s worth and that he acknowledged it to her instead of keeping it to himself. He told her on multiple occasions that what she noticed might be mundane, but it wasn’t necessarily something he would see so she was useful (which is the closest thing to a compliment a Sherlock Holmes-type gives, I guess). I liked that Abigail quickly adapted and understood and caught on. She was very resourceful and liked to take charge, even if it meant she herself would be in danger. She realized that it was more about saving other people and the welfare of other people than herself. I also really liked that she was independent and made her own decisions — even if they weren’t decisions other people approved of. Jackaby was kind of a poor knock off for Sherlock Holmes but I think he had something special with the whole supernatural thing, which I hope gets explained a bit more in the next book.

However everything happened so quickly — a couple days in the story! — so nothing really felt explained or developed in a way that made sense. So much happens that it feels like it has been more than a couple days but really it wasn’t that long. And for Abigail to have such strong feelings for someone in that time was kinda “k??” but I digress. I would have liked a bit more time spent on this case — and all the cases in the future — so that we get more development of Jackaby and the other side characters, including a literal duck and a ghost. Whose names have escaped me because they didn’t have much to add to the story this time around in my opinion. Other than to give us insight into the world Jackaby lives in (and proof that supernatural things exist tbh).

I think I’ll continue with this series as it was the most interesting period piece with supernatural elements novels I have read since THESE VICIOUS MASKS (and I’ve started and stopped a lot since then).

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I think Dani will really like the paranormal elements of this one, plus how amazing Abigail is. I think she will enjoy that Abigail has a mind of her own but also fits into some of the norms of society because real women can do both: fit into some boxes and jump the lines on others. Dani is going to enjoy the fast pace and trying to solve the mystery herself (and she will probably catch on before me, she’s smart like that). I think Dani will really like this one so she should pick it up!

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