This book reminded me of why I read. Why, as a child, I could immerse myself in the world my book created and not come out for hours (sadly, as an adult, that feeling is more and more elusive and I’m rarely left alone by the other humans in my life long enough to read for hours). But. This book. I love it. Unequivocally. And I am practically dancing in place waiting for the second one to arrive to me (damn you slow, unfunded library!), and then hopefully followed in short order by the third, which releases on August 23rd.
Jackaby is William Ritter’s debut novel. Everywhere that I can see online, it’s listed as a “teen” book but I would have put in more in middle grades. The subject matter is pretty tame, barely even a flirtation – but maybe the descriptions of demons and demon-slaying push it over the edge to the older label? Regardless, Jackaby has a sense of ageless appeal – the ages of the main characters are never expressly stated, and while the narrator Rook seems the younger she is still independent. Anywho, on to the details!
The end result was astounding. I had managed to completely transform myself into…a silly, obvious girl wearing boy’ clothing.
Meet Abigail Rook – fresh off a boat to America in 1892, she has abandoned her finishing school for more exciting prospects. Her voice is energetic and wry. I wanted to step through the pages of the book and introduce myself. She starts off looking for work, and in her search stumbles upon a certain R.F. Jackaby, whose misplaced soliloquies on the background of whoever he happens to be addressing invoked a certain other finder of facts. (Sherlock, is that you?) This “investigative services” entrepreneur however, specializes in clues that the average human can’t see even when they try – he has the ability to see the supernatural beings that inhabit the world. As such he is quite the anomaly, since the general populace would still like to believe that the supernatural is firmly corralled to their imaginations.
“I have ceased concerning myself with how things look to others, Abigail Rook…in my experience, others are generally wrong.”
Ritter’s supernaturalized New England is entertaining and Rook’s view of the world fresh. So often when I read fantasy or paranormal books I find myself stopping for a groan or eyeroll every few pages, the result being that I’m not able to sink myself completely into the story. Jackaby has none of the jarring halts to my suspension of disbelief. The only thing I stopped for was to scribble note on a quote – and after awhile I was in such a hurry to move along I stopped doing even that. Suffice to say that Rook kept me entertained all the way through.
“I find most men are already more than happy to believe a young woman is a frail little thing. so, technically the deception was already there, I just employed it in a convenient way.”
The girl has balls, pardon the expression.
My words petered out and slipped into the shadows, embarrassed to be seen with me.
Why can I not be this witty in real life? Why?? Ahem. Moving on. Then there is the supporting cast of characters, who are somehow just as intriguing as the main characters. I sincerely hope that the stories of Jenny, Douglas, and Charlie are further expanded on in the subsequent books. I’m a complete sucker for werewolves, and while the appearance they make in this book is minor I reeeeeeeally hope Ritter extends it in the sequel(s). Besides the werewolf appearance, there are also banshees, demons, and faeries…be still my little mythology loving heart!
5/5 stars for me. I love the historical setting, the addition of the supernatural, the repartee between Rook and Jackaby, the enigmatic Jenny. Somehow Ritter has managed to write a story that, I think, will appeal to readers of many ages. Is it the most in-depth story you’ll ever read? No. Is it sexy? No. Is it intriguing? Yes. Is the writing entertaining? YES. And that is what, in my opinion, really makes the book. The writing is practically flawless, and it sufficiently entertained my intellectual side while appealing to my love of the other-worldly.
Run, don’t walk, to your bookstore (or library) and get a copy. You won’t regret it!
I read this book on my own dime and was not in any way solicited or compensated for this review.