Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

Genre: Paranormal, Mystery
Age Level: Young Adult
Series: Jackaby #1

“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.


After reading so many formulaic paranormals, it was a relief to read something unique, a book that did it’s own thing and left behind all the tropes. It is an easy read, with a fast pace and quirky plot of which I loved every moment.

Yes, Jackaby himself is a cross between Sherlock and Dr. Who, but that makes the his character seem unoriginal – which he isn’t. Yes, he has characteristics of both Sherlock and Dr. Who, but he’s his own character – not just a combination of the two. Jackaby is an astonishingly well crafted character who leaps off the pages and is instantly lovable. Basically, he’s the kind of character who’s impossible to describe because he is too real for any adjectives to pin him down.

The narrator, Abigail, is tenacious, smart, loyal, and proud to a fault. She refuses to let societal standards define her actions and breaks all the conventions in place for being a women. She acts as the perfect counterbalance to Jackaby – creating some of the best dialogue I’ve had the pleasure of reading. All the dialogue in the novel is lovely to read, but the exchanges between Abigail and Jackaby are especially noteworthy. They are a study in using dialogue to further reveal character, to forge bonds between characters. The clever dialogue continually brought a smile to my face.

If I wanted to find fault in the novel, I could say that the mystery was rather simple and I’d have appreciated a larger twist. Yet, the mystery was only one aspect of a complex plot, so this didn’t bother me in slightest. A lot of things get put in motion in this book and I can only assume that the next book will be even better (or at least I certainly hope so!) The supplementary material at the back was quite genius as well I must say.

Also, though I never comment on covers, the cover of Jackaby is gorgeous. I love the colour scheme, the  outline of Jackaby’s head, and the clever way the silhouette reveals how he sees the world versus how it is for everyone else on the back cover. And the font! One of, if not the best, cover I’ve seen in a long time.

Highly recommended!!

Have you read this book? What did you think? I’d love to hear from you!



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