“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. -Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads
After DNFing Girl from the Well, plodding through Storm Front (the first entry in the very popular Dresden Files series), and being underwhelmed by Fiendish, I was dying for a good supernatural read. I've had my eye on Jackaby for months- here's what I typed frantically into Goodreads when I first heard about it:
I didn't even get past “Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” before thinking "oh my god YES." Then I skimmed the rest of the intro and saw the bit about it being "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."So was the wait worth it? Definitely. Ritter knows exactly what he is about in terms of blending these two genre favorites, and if you enjoy the recent BBC adaptation of Sherlock and new run of Doctor Who, I can't imagine you'll read this without smiling. Abigail Rook is an able and progressive protagonist, and what jaded reader can't get behind a girl who ditched her restrictive Victorian future to dig for fossils and, eventually, help solve spooky mysteries? She's as much Charley Pollard as she is Rose Tyler, for all you Whovians, and I love her for it.
Oh my hopes. They have been raised exceedingly high.
Jackaby serves as your Sherlock/Doctor/Howl/Chrestomanci/Eccentric Intellectual stand-in, and while never quite reaching the heights of his forbears, he has his own skillset to offer and is plenty likable. (He may be clueless enough to mistake gunpowder for paprika, but he knows his lore and is a fantastic advocate for the strange and overlooked.) I was really concerned about the seeming likelihood of a romance between our two leads, but that was dismissed almost immediately, and the two instead have the makings of an excellent platonic team. Don't worry though, there is potential for romance for Abigail and Jackaby from amongst the side characters, several of whom are fully-realized and could support books of their own.
While it's not exactly horrifying, there are chills to be had and cases to be cracked. The dialogue occasionally falters a bit in terms of historical accuracy, but if you're anything like me you'll be having to much fun to be really bothered by it. I can't wait for the next installments in a promising new series!