Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: Jackaby

Title: Jackaby
Author: William Ritter
Genre: Historical fantasy, mystery, young adult

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
“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.

I love fantasy, mysteries, and historical fiction. When I first read the book description, I jumped at the chance to read it, since it's a combination of three genres I enjoy. The gorgeous cover helped too.

Unfortunately, the book itself didn't deliver as much as I'd hoped. Let me be clear, I was not buying that tagline ("Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel" Ummmm...you can't just name-drop two TV shows that people love to death and pretend your novel is a combination of the two). It literally has pitfalls of each of the genres that it borrows from.

1) Eccentric detective with zero personality
2) Wide-eyed assistant to detective who obviously has some talent at this sort of thing even if she hasn't ever done it before
3) Fantastical creatures that only the Chosen One (in this case, our detective) can see
4) Stubborn young woman rebelling-but-not-really in an oppressive Victorian era society

I think I would have enjoyed this book more if the main characters had half a personality, but both Jackaby and Abigail were lacking on that front. Still, the story itself was interesting, and I liked some of the minor characters. There were some twists with the minor characters that I didn't see coming, and they were just generally more interesting than dear old Jackaby.

I'm not sure I'd recommend this book, but it wasn't bad either.

*A free e-copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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