Book Review – Jackaby by William Ritter

Book Review - Jackaby

Jackaby Cover

Jackaby (Jackaby #1)

Author: William Ritter

Publication: September 16th, 2014

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Format: Kindle Edition, 304 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Thriller

Read: March 2016

William RitterGoodreads



4 Stars

“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 – 4 out of 5 stars
This story reminds me a lot of the tv show Elementary, which I love, with a lot of paranormal elements. There’s a lot of action and mystery and suspense. It kept me hooked most of the time and interested in what was going to happen next. I loved the historical aspects of this book, it’s a very interesting time period (sort of fictional colonial America) and the descriptions really helped with that aspect. However, some of the parts were a little slow in parts which dragged the momentum of the story which it wasn’t that constant which was good.

Writing Style – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This was  the part of the story that was most of the let down. It was really light and fast paced. It was easy to read and it had the correct dialect to help make the story historically accurate. There was a lot of description and everything was super detailed as well which I enjoyed. It was quirky and funny but without trying too hard, specially with things like the dialogue. But there was just something about it that didn’t completely take me away.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I really enjoyed the characters in this book, again really remind me of the main characters in Elementary. Abigail, the narrator and the main character in the book, is awesome. She’s kind of ahead of her time in a way, she’s a little bit of a tomboy. She’s always wanted to be more like her father than her mother and has a very headstrong personality. She’s really smart which I loved about her. She’s really open and observant which kind of helps her out considering the mess she finds herself with the other main character. Jackaby cracks me the heck up and the best part is that he doesn’t even try to! He’s actually a very dry and matter of fact kind of person, but the way he says things makes him quirky and funny. He’s very peculiar but he owns it, he’s very self-assured and doesn’t really care about what people say about him, which is nothing good considering his profession and the time period. He’s very honest and determined to do what he feels he needs to and I loved him so much. There are all kinds of different side characters and they were all intriguing and interesting. From paranormal, to human to a little in between, there’s so much to explore in the background and I loved it.


If you’re already obsessed with a specific kind of Sherlock retelling, this might not be the book for you. But it was great for me!

The plot is intriguing. We follow Abigail who left her home of England in search of adventure and suddenly finds herself in a new city following an eccentric detective trying to get a job as his assistant. Right off the bat, I was intrigued. It starts off a little slow in the beginning, but the mystery is introduced really quickly and it caught my interest right away. Lately it’s been very easy for me to find the culprit or the mystery in the books I read very easily, but I was completely lost with this one. I had no clue who it could be and what the heck was happening half the time and I loved it! It’s been so predictable lately that I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. I loved the integration of all the different kinds of paranormal creatures and what some of their roles ended up being within the plot. There were a lot that I knew from before reading this book and others I had no idea of and I found  that super interesting and unique to this book. It’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to for next book. This book reminded me a lot of the show Elementary, which a lot of people don’t like but I absolutely love it. And the plots move similarly, the clues for the mystery come out very slowly and it’s not until the end where you can see how everything has fit together. It was awesome because I couldn’t have guessed it for the life of me! There is but a bit of romance in this book but it’s almost not even concrete which I found really refreshing.

I really liked Abigail! I found her to be my kind of main character, non conformist to society’s standards but at the same time feminine. She’s really headstrong and determined but she still likes romance and love stories and hopes to find one for herself. It shows the complexity of a personality and how that pertains to everyone, even though in that time of history. She purposely goes against society’s prejudice and begins to work for Jackaby and I love her attitude. She’s resilient and quick on her feet. There’s a lot of things thrown at her all at once and she doesn’t let them get to her, she keeps kicking and doing her best to understand everything and help in any way she can. She’s super duper smart and open and I just loved her growth and I can’t wait to see more.

Jackaby was totally hilarious. I don’t know if he was meant to be that way or not but I cracked up all the time with his dialogue. He’s really matter of fact but the things he says are so crazy that I can’t help but laugh! He has a really quirky personality and is quite eccentric in the way he acts. I loved him! There’s quite a few side characters that are introduced which have more of a spotlight on them. Caine is a lovely cinnamon roll and that’s pretty much all I’m going to say about him. We have Jenny and Douglas who are resident’s in Jackaby’s household and they are just as, maybe even more, peculiar than him. I loved them both for completely different reasons. And well the villain and antagonist who while I don’t like because of their roles, I found their characterization to be real and very well done.

Overall, I was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. I loved the characters and the plot kept me engaged and guessing which is great for a mystery. I can’t wait to delve into the second book in the series.

So that’s it for this review! Let me know if you have read this book or the series and what your thoughts are. Comment below if you’re interested in checking it out now because of my review. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!

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14 thoughts on “Book Review – Jackaby by William Ritter

  1. Doctor Who meets Sherlock sounds like my kinda book, plus I LOVE Elementary – granted that 67% because Jonny Lee Miller is amazing…maybe 70%. This sounds like a great book. Such a wonderful review!!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Doctor Who is amazing, but I get you about the blurb, sometimes they’re exaggerating – putting it lightly. Ah, Watson and Holmes are one of my favorite duos, so it’s wonderful to know that’s strong in this book. Thanks 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love love love your review! ❤️ I’ve been dying to pick this book up, and I did promise you I will this month haha. I determine to read it to— tomorrow…(?) I won’t back down, haha. Your review gives me a big push! And did I tell you I love it? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I keep hearing such mixed reviews of this book and it’s caused me to go back and forth with wanting to give it a go, but this makes me want to at least attempt at it, because I might just like it. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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