Book Review: Jackaby

This is another book I found on Icebreaker’s blog. When I read that it was like a blend of Doctor Who and Sherlock, I knew I had to read it. And I loved it so much!

Summary:  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. 

Writing: 4/5: There were moments where I felt as if Abigail’s voice needed to come out more. Sometimes it felt a little bland to me, as if I were reading third person, and the narrator didn’t truly have a strong personality. However, this was narration only. As the story moved along, her voice came out clearer and stronger and the writing improved a lot. And the humor was absolutely perfect, one of the best parts of the book. It kept it from becoming too  morbid. 

Story: 4.5/5: While the plot may not sound like anything new, Ritter was able to add in details that proved this book to be innovative; he didn’t use the classic ‘monsters’, like werewolves and vampires, and instead used other, lesser known creatures in his story. I truly appreciated that, and I feel as if it were his desire to keep away from paranormal clichès that made Jackaby stand out as much as it did. 

Characters: 3.5/5: This was a short book, so the characters weren’t as colorful as in a 400+ book. Abigail was a fun departure from a “Watson” character, yet her voice fell a little flat. Charlie needed more foreshadowing and time in the book, but by the end I truly liked and cared about him. Jenny, Douglas, and Hatun needed more time for me to grow truly attached to them too, yet I find each one of them to be interesting. Jenny is very mysterious, Douglas is a great example of human nature (even if he isn’t…ah…strictly human), and the topic of mental health with Hatun was portrayed well. Jackaby was the best character in the book to me; the most developed, and the most interesting. He reminds me of a hypothetical Doctor Who episode where The Doctor has to fill the shoes of Sherlock Holmes.

Details: 3.5/5: I have not researched any of the creatures in this story, so I can’t say how well portrayed the myths and legends surrounding them are…or even if some of them were made up.  However, the way they were integrated into the book felt very natural and flowed well. It clicked and felt right.

World Building: 4.5/5: New Fiddleham was built amazingly well, and this sort of ties into what I said about the details. They simply fit into the somewhat eerie, strange town that Ritter created. I could see how the creatures could exist in such a world, and Jackaby’s position as a “seer” worked  with the deductions and investigations. 


  • The relationships: Ritter has confirmed that there will be no romance between the two leads, thank goodness. Honestly, they remind me too much of a hypothetical Doctor Who episode where the Doctor and his companion take up the position of Holmes and Watson for a day. Abigail and Charlie are a cute ship, and the friendship between Jackaby, Jenny, and Douglas felt very natural. 
  • Incredibly quotable: there are so many quotes in this book I adore! Like, “That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest ones always are.” And “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 a more dangerous thing by far.” I’m gonna have to make a post of just my favorite book quotes…
  • Inventive monsters: As I said, Ritter used lesser-known creatures throughout the book. This helped stay away from clichès.


  • Length- This was too short. As a whole, it felt a little rushed, and the characters weren’t as developed or as in depth as I was hoping. However, since this is a series, I can sense that there will be way more development in the future.
  • Anti-climactic: the ending to me felt sort of anti-climactic. I’m not talking about the part before the ending; that was really good, and properly suspenseful. But the mystery seemed to wrap itself up too quickly. It felt like it had finished very fast, and I felt like there could’ve been more situations added to the book to increase suspense and theories. 
  • A little easy: I was able to guess who the villain was too fast. And it wasn’t even an educated deduction; I just went with my gut feeling, and I was right. There were a few clues, but overall I just knew instinctively. 

Rating: 4/5. This was a fun debut to a series, a flawless mashup fo Doctor Who and Sherlock, and I’m eager to read Beastly Bones. 


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