Review: Jackaby

JackabyWilliam Ritter, Jackaby

Abigail Rook has just arrived in the New England town of New Fiddleham with nowhere to go and no way to earn a living. As she sits in a tavern and ponders her next move, she encounters a strange man who turns out to be R.F. Jackaby, a private investigator with an extraordinary gift for detecting paranormal activity. Abigail’s talent for observation lands her a job as Jackaby’s assistant, and she is immediately embroiled in the investigation of a gruesome murder. Jackaby is convinced that the killer is supernatural, but the police scoff at the very idea — except for one young detective named Charlie Cane. With Cane’s help, Jackaby and Abigail pursue the investigation, encountering a banshee, a helpful madwoman, and a possible bridge troll along the way. Meanwhile, Abigail relishes the excitement of her new job, but several people warn her to stay away from Jackaby. She wants to keep her job, but will it cost her her reputation — or even her life?

Despite the fact that this book is classified as YA or even middle-grade, I really enjoyed it! The book is narrated by Abigail, a plucky protagonist who is suddenly thrown into a magical world with nothing but her wits to rely on. I like that she is basically ordinary; though smart and brave, she doesn’t have superpowers, so she is very relatable as she encounters the surprises and challenges of this world. Jackaby is a really fun character as well, with more than a few similiarities to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes! I also loved the richly imagined world of this novel, especially the random little gags that didn’t have much to do with the main plot, such as the frog in Jackaby’s office, or what happened to his former assistant. The mystery itself was fairly easy to solve — I figured out whodunnit almost as soon as the guilty character was introduced — but the fun of the book is the characters and setting. I’d definitely recommend this book to fans of historical fantasy, and I’m looking forward to the sequels!

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