Book Review

Review: Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter

“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.


The only reason I got this book (besides the gorgeous cover, of course) was the tagline “Doctor who meets Sherlock”. Yup, two of my favorite fandoms in one single book. It was a done deal to get this one!

“Jackaby, I was rapidly discovering, had a way of opening the corner of my brain. It was a quiet little corner in which I had lived when I was younger. It was a corner in which anything was possible, where magic was not an improbable dream, but an obvious fact.”

This book took me back to my “Sherlock Holmes” Days, and when I say back, I mean to about 6 months back – because yeah, I love re – reading Sherlock Holmes. It is still one of the best mysteries I have read with just enough dry humor to make me feel stupid 😛

Mr. Ritter has actually based R.F. Jackaby on Sherlock Holmes and indeed you can see the similarities in the way they handle the world around them. They are both highly intelligent and capable of understanding things that others can’t.

But there is one glaring difference – while Sherlock belittles anything fantastical, Jackaby, on the other hand, is the Investigator of the Supernatural itself. Jackaby is highly intelligent, yet considered one of the ‘crazies’. His theories might have helped solve some crimes, yet he is still considered a pariah (not that it effects him!) because he believes in something that not most can see, let alone understand.

“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 more dangerous thing by far.”

Abigail Rook is a female intent on having adventure, believing that there is more to life than just marrying and looking pretty or even being ladylike.( THIS IS ME, EVERYDAY OF MY LIFE!) So she ran away from home, to go on an archaeological dig, but having understood that it wasn’t exactly the adventure she wanted, came back to London. And this is where she comes in contact with  Jackaby, and at the moment of the knowing him, is thrust into a murder mystery (Sherlock reminders anyone?). Though skeptic at first, she soon comes to realise that while Jackaby’s thought process is quite ‘out of the box’ he is definitely not wrong. She comes to perceive this employment to be the adventure she desires, even though it takes a brush with death for that realisation to come to force 😉

“This world is full of dragon slayers. What we need are a few more people who aren’t too proud to listen to a fish.”

This book though, is reminiscent of the kind of macabre that has always pulled me in, and maybe that’s the reason why I actually liked this book, and I am eagerly waiting for the next instalment.

Jackaby and Abigail are the perfect investigative duo when accompanied with a ghost and a duck assistant (yup, you heard it right. An Assiant Duck. An Actual Duck. I wish I had that in real life). Their comadrie is beautifully hilarious, a perfect brother sister relationship even if they aren’t actually related.

The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that the Cloud of Sherlock Holmes did overshadow the characters, but not the plot. The plot, of course, is influenced by Doctor Who, but not as much to overshadow it.

Now all I can hope is that the next instalment, is more of Jackaby and Abigail themselves than a facsimile of Sherlock and John.

“Science and magic, beauty and bedlam, things that ought to be at odds – they just don’t follow the same rules when Jackaby’s involved. For all his faults, he really is a remarkable man.”


4 / 5 Stars

(Only because I do not like to be reminded of any other book, when I am reading a particular one!)


If you have ever loved Sherlock, pick this one up. And if you have liked paranormal, then pick this one up. But mostly pick this one up because this is actually quite wonderfully written.



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