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Jackaby (Jackaby Series #1)

Jackaby (Jackaby Series #1)

4.5 21
by William Ritter

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A serial killer is on the loose in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892. Abigail Rook, a newly hired assistant, helps R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby—who has the ability to see supernatural beings—is convinced that the foul deeds are the work of a supernatural creature.


A serial killer is on the loose in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892. Abigail Rook, a newly hired assistant, helps R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby—who has the ability to see supernatural beings—is convinced that the foul deeds are the work of a supernatural creature.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Toss together an alternate 19th-century New England city, a strong tradition of Sherlockian pastiche, and one seriously ugly hat, and this lighthearted and assured debut emerges, all action and quirk. In the best Doyle tradition, the first-person narrator is pragmatic yet naïve Abigail Rook, native of Britain and seeker of adventure. Thwarted in Ukraine, she catches ship for the U.S. and lands in New Fiddleham, penniless and with few employable skills. This matters not to R.F. Jackaby, the peculiar stranger with the awful hat, who is more interested in the kobold (household spirit) Abigail has unknowingly picked up on her travels. Jackaby is a detective in need of an unflappable assistant—literally, as his last one “is temporarily waterfowl.” Abigail’s keen eye for detail and complete ignorance of the paranormal make her observations invaluable to him, and she’s soon caught up in the eccentric mayhem that is Jackaby’s workaday world. Ritter is also capable of tenderness and pathos, as his description of a suffering banshee demonstrates, leaving room for development in any future cases Abigail may chronicle. Ages 12–up. Agent: Lucy Carson, Friedrich Agency. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

“Ritter’s debut skillfully blends science with the supernatural and balances whimsy with violence. The smartly paced plot wraps up neatly, but the rich world of this debut demands sequels.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Toss together an alternate 19th-century New England city, a strong tradition of Sherlockian pastiche, and one seriously ugly hat, and this lighthearted and assured debut emerges, all action and quirk.” —Publishers Weekly
Review quotes

“Ritter’s debut skillfully blends science with the supernatural and balances whimsy with violence. The smartly paced plot wraps up neatly, but the rich world of this debut demands sequels.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Smooth writing and inventive . . . background touches (like Jackaby’s tenants and pocket contents) characterize this supernatural riff on the typical Sherlockian murder mystery. For a lighter read-alike, try Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecilia (2004); for a darker tone, perhaps Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart mysteries.” —Booklist

“Toss together an alternate 19th-century New England city, a strong tradition of Sherlockian pastiche, and one seriously ugly hat, and this lighthearted and assured debut emerges, all action and quirk.” —Publishers Weekly

“Fans of Jonathan Stroud's The Screaming Staircase will appreciate Ritter's initial foray into the realm of supernatural . . . Avid lovers of fantasy will enjoy this quick read.” —School Library Journal
VOYA, October 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 4) - Kim Carter
Having left her English home to pursue adventure, Abigail Rook finds plenty of it in late nineteenth-century New Fiddleham, New England. Responding to a job advertisement for an investigative services assistant, Abigail arrives at the office of Mr. Jackaby. Despite his purported sightings of supernatural creatures, she doggedly pursues her cause for employment, accompanying him to a murder scene. Quickly discerning that Jackaby is not favored by the senior members of the police force, Abigail nonetheless follows his lead as he peruses the crime scene. While interviewing a neighbor, Jackaby identifies an anguished elderly woman as a banshee, whose shrill wails portend death to those who can hear her. When the man who had been hearing her cries turns up dead the next day, Abigail is stunned as the police arrest Jackaby for murder. Abigail’s powers of ordinary observation rival Jackaby’s supernatural observation talents, and the two conspire to capture the real killer. A plucky heroine with a quirky mentor in a world populated by far more than meets the eye, Abigail narrates a tale that starts slowly in the way that a drifting fog envelops—before you know it, you are immersed in a world obscuring and replacing your everyday reality. Ritter’s style is anything but obscure, offering occasionally poetic prose and a well-paced plot. Mystery, adventure, and fantasy readers will all enjoy this engrossing tale and come away hoping this is not the last they will hear of Abigail and Jackaby. Reviewer: Kim Carter; Ages 11 to 18.
VOYA, October 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 4) - Chase Carter
Jackaby and his new assistant come together to solve a mysterious set of murders that Jackaby insists are supernatural in nature. What makes this book so interesting is that the author works in supernatural explanations for everyday happenings. This comical and unexpected twist on reality brings about wondering and imagining the possibilities of these explanations to be true. Fans of historical fiction will like this because it keeps to the common views of the time while adding its own extraordinary twists. Reviewer: Chase Carter, Teen Reviewer; Ages 11 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Fans of Jonathan Stroud's The Screaming Staircase (Disne-Hyperion, 2013) will appreciate Ritter's initial foray into the realm of supernatural. When Abigail Rook abandons university, and her parents' hopes, she arrives at the fictional New England town of New Fiddleham. There, she promptly meets R. F. Jackaby, a paranormal detective, and is flung into the investigation of a serial killer suspected of being nonhuman. Where Ritter excels is in the fast and furious plotline—events unfold rapidly while satisfying tastes for mystery and a small amount of gore. Unfortunately, so much attention is paid to the unfolding circumstances that the two main characters remain mysteries themselves. While readers know Abigail is fleeing the expectations society and her parents have placed on her, little is done to explain why. The protagonist is also a mystery—he just appears, as if a ghost himself, with much fanfare but scant backstory. Ultimately, however, avid lovers of fantasy will enjoy this quick read.—Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-07-01
A Sherlock Holmes–style adventure featuring the egotistical and eccentric R.F. Jackaby and his bewildered but invaluable assistant, Abigail Rook. Inspired by her father’s paleontological expeditions and frustrated by her mother’s expectations of femininity, Abigail arrives in the New England city of New Fiddleham with a suitcase of inappropriate attire and a need for money. She finds employment with the oddball supernatural investigator Jackaby, whose previous assistants have met unfortunate or fowl ends (literally). Aiding Jackaby, flirting with the secretive Detective Charlie Cane, and trying to avoid the wrath of Chief Inspector Marlowe and Commissioner Swift, Abigail discovers that the world is stranger and more dangerous than she ever imagined. Although Abigail is not a seer like Jackaby, able to pierce the glamour of New Fiddleham’s fairy-tale and folklore inhabitants, she learns that to “see the ordinary is extraordinary indeed.” Abigail’s attention to the everyday serves as a foil to Jackaby’s paranormal perception and makes her a refreshingly realistic and agreeable heroine. Secondary characters—including Jackaby’s house—are equally enchanting and well-drawn. Ritter’s debut skillfully blends science with the supernatural and balances whimsy with violence. The smartly paced plot wraps up neatly, but the rich world of this debut demands sequels. A magical mystery tour de force with a high body count and a list of unusual suspects. (Paranormal. 12-18)

Product Details

Algonquin Young Readers
Publication date:
Jackaby Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was late January, and New England wore a fresh coat of snow as I stepped along the gangplank to the shore. The city of New Fiddleham glistened in the fading dusk, lamplight playing across the icy buildings that lined the waterfront, turning their brickwork to twinkling diamonds in the dark. In the inky black of the Atlantic, the reflected glow of the gaslights danced and bobbed. I made my way forward, carrying everything that traveled with me in a single suitcase. The solid ground beneath my feet felt odd after so many weeks at sea, and looming buildings rose up around me on all sides. I would come to know this city well, but in that cold winter of 1892, every glowing window and dark alley was strange, full of untold dangers and enticing mysteries.

It was not an old city--not by the standards of those I had seen along my travels--but it bore itself with all the robust pomp and granite certainty of any European harbor town. I had been to mountain villages in the Ukraine, burgs in Poland and Germany, and estates in my native England, but still I found it hard not to be intimidated by the thrum and pulse of the busy American port. Even as the last of the evening light faded from the sky, the dock was still alive with shadowy figures, hurrying about their business.

A storekeeper was latching the shutters as he closed up shop for the night. Sailors on leave sauntered down the harbor, looking for wild diversions on which to spend their hard-earned money--and women with low necklines looked eager to help them spend it faster. In one man I saw my father, confident and successful, probably strolling home late, once again, having devoted the evening to important work rather than his waiting family.

A young woman across the dock pulled her winter coat tightly around herself and ducked her chin down as the crowd of sailors passed. Her shoulders might have shaken, just a little, but she kept to her path without letting the men’s boisterous laughter keep her from her course. In her I saw myself, a fellow lost girl, headstrong and headed anywhere but home.

A chilly breeze swept over the pier, and crept under the worn hem of my dress and through the seams of my thick coat. I had to throw up a hand to hold the old tweed cap on my head before it blew away. It was a boy’s fashion--my father called it a newsboy--but I had grown comfortable in it in the past months. For once I found myself wishing I had opted for the redundant underskirts my mother always insisted were so important to a lady’s proper dress. The cut of my simple green walking gown was excellent for movement, but the fabric did nothing to hold back the icy chill.

I turned my wooly collar up against the snow and pressed forward. In my pockets jingled a handful of coins left over from my work abroad. They would buy me nothing but sympathy, I knew, and only if I bargained very well. Their foreign faces told a story, though, and I was happy for their tinkling company as I trudged through the crunching powder toward an inn.

A gentleman in a long brown coat with a scarf wound up nearly to his eyebrows held the door for me as I stepped inside. I dusted the fresh flakes from my hair as I hung my hat and coat beside the door, tucking my suitcase beneath them. The place smelled of oak and firewood and beer, and the heat of a healthy fire brought a stinging life to my cheeks. A half-dozen patrons sat scattered about three or four round, plain, wooden tables.

In the far corner stood a box piano, its bench unoccupied. I knew a few melodies by heart, having taken lessons all through grammar school—Mother had insisted that a lady should play an instrument. She would have fainted at the notion that I might someday put her fine culture and training to such vulgar use, especially unescorted in this strange, American tavern. I quickly turned my thoughts away from my mother’s overbearing prudence before I might accidentally see reason in it. I put on my most charming smile, instead, and approached the barman. He raised a bushy eyebrow as I neared, which sent a ripple of wrinkles to the dome of his bald head.

“Good afternoon, sir,” I said, drawing up to the bar. “My name is Abigail Rook. I’m just off a boat, and I find myself a bit short on cash, at present. I wonder if I could just set up a hat on your piano and play a few--”

The bartender interrupted. “It’s out of service. Has been for weeks.”

I must have shown my dismay, because he looked sympathetic as I turned to go. “Hold on, then.” He poured a frothy pint and slid it across the bar to me with a nod and a kindly wink. “Have a seat for a while, miss, and wait out the snow.”

I hid my surprise behind a grateful smile, and took a stool at the bar beside the broken piano. I glanced around at the other patrons, hearing my mother’s voice in my head again, warning me that I must look like “that sort of girl,” and worse, that the drunken degenerates who frequented these places would fix their eyes on me like wolves on a lost sheep. The drunken degenerates did not seem to notice me in the least, actually. Most of them looked quite pleasant, if a bit tired after a long day, and two of them were playing a polite game of chess toward the back of the room. Holding the pint of ale still felt strange, as though I ought to be looking nervously over my shoulder for the headmaster to appear. It was not my first drink, but I was unaccustomed to being treated as an adult.

I peered at my own reflection in a frosty window. It had been scarcely a year since I had put the shores of England behind me, but the rugged young woman looking back from the glass was barely recognizable. The salty sea air had stolen some of the softness from my cheeks, and my complexion was tan--at least tan by English standards. My hair was not braided neatly and tied with ribbons, as my mother had always preferred it, but pinned up in a quick, simple bun that might have been a little too matronly if the wind had not shaken loose a few curving wisps to hang free about my collar. The girl who had fled the dormitories was gone, replaced by this unfamiliar woman.

I forced my attention past the reflection to the flurries of white flakes somersaulting in the lamplight beyond. As I nursed the bitter drink, I became gradually aware of a body standing behind me. I turned slowly and nearly spilled the pint.

It was the eyes, I think, that startled me the most, opened wide and staring with intense inquisition. It was the eyes--and the fact that he stood not half a pace from my stool, leaning ever so slightly in, so that our noses nearly bumped as I turned to face him.

His hair was black, or very dark brown, and nearly wild, having only enough civility to point itself in a tousled heap backward, save a few errant strands that danced about his temples. He had hard cheekbones and deep circles under pale, cloud gray eyes. His eyes looked like they could be a hundred lifetimes old, but he bore an otherwise young countenance and had a fervent energy about him.

I pulled back a bit to take him in. He was thin and angular, and his thick brown coat must have been as heavy as he was. It fell past his knees and sagged with the weight of several visibly overstuffed pockets. His lapel was bordered by a long, wooly scarf, which hung almost as long as the coat, and which I recognized as the one I had passed coming in. He must have doubled back to follow me.

“Hello?” I managed to say, when I had regained balance atop my stool. “Can I help--?”

“You’re recently from the Ukraine.” It was not a question. His voice was calm and even, but something more . . . amused? He continued, his gray eyes dancing as though exploring each thought several seconds before his mouth could voice it. “You’ve traveled by way of Germany, and then a great distance in a sizable ship . . . made largely of iron, I’d wager.”

He cocked his head to one side as he looked at me, only never quite square in the eyes, always just off, as though fascinated by my hairline or shoulders. I had learned how to navigate unwanted attention from boys in school, but this was something else entirely. He managed to seem both engrossed and entirely uninterested in me all at once. It was more than somewhat unsettling, but I found myself as intrigued as I was flustered.

With delayed but dawning comprehension, I gave him a smile and said, “Ah, you’re off the Lady Charlotte as well, are you? Sorry, did we meet on deck?”

The man looked briefly, genuinely baffled, and found my eyes at last. “Lady who? What are you talking about?”

“The Lady Charlotte,” I repeated. “The merchant carrier from Bremerhaven. You weren’t a passenger?”

“I’ve never met the lady. She sounds dreadful.”

The odd, thin man resumed examining my person, apparently far more impressed by my hair and the seams of my jacket than by my conversation.

“Well, if we didn’t sail together, how did you ever--ah, you must have snuck a peek at my luggage labels.” I tried to remain casual, but leaned away as the man drew closer still, inspecting me. The oak countertop dug into my back uncomfortably. He smelled faintly of cloves and cinnamon.

“I did nothing of the sort. That would be an impolite invasion of privacy,” the man stated flatly as he picked a bit of lint from my sleeve, tasted it, and tucked it somewhere inside his baggy coat.

“I’ve got it,” I announced. “You’re a detective, aren’t you?” The man’s eyes stopped darting and locked with mine again. I knew I was onto him this time. “Yes, you’re like whatshisname, aren’t you? The one who consults for Scotland Yard in those stories, right? So, what was it? Let me guess, you smelled salt water on my coat, and I’ve got some peculiar shade of clay caked on my dress, or something like that? What was it?”

The man considered for a moment before responding. “Yes,” he said at last. “Something like that.”

He smiled weakly, and then whirled on his heels and away, tossing his scarf around and around his head as he made for the exit. He crammed a knit hat over his ears and flung the door open, steeling himself against the whirling frost that rushed in around him. As the door slowly closed, I caught one last glimpse of cloudy gray eyes just between the wooly edges of his scarf and hat.

And then the man was gone.

Following the curious encounter, I asked the barman if he knew anything about the stranger. The man chuckled and rolled his eyes. “I’ve heard lots of things, and one or two of them might even be true. Just about everyone’s got a story about that one. Isn’t that right, boys?” A few of the locals laughed, and began to recall fragments of stories I couldn’t follow.

“Remember that thing with the cat and the turnips?”

“Or the crazy fire at the mayor’s house?”

“My cousin swears by him, but he also swears by sea monsters and mermaids.”

For the two older gentlemen on either side of the chessboard, my query sparked to life an apparently forgotten argument, one that burst quickly into an outright quarrel about superstitions and naivete. Before long, each had attracted supporters from the surrounding tables, some insisting the man was a charlatan, others praising him as a godsend. From the midst of the confusing squabble I was at least able to catch the strange man’s name. He was Mr. R. F. Jackaby.

Meet the Author

William Ritter�began writing the Jackaby series in the middle of the night when his son was still an infant. After getting up to care for him, Will would lie awake, his mind creating rich worlds and fantasies--such as the one in New Fiddleham. Will lives and teaches in Springfield, Oregon.�

Nicola Barber is an Audie Award-winning narrator whose voice can be heard in television and radio commercials and popular video games such as World of Warcraft. Nicola is also an Audie nominee in the Solo Female Narration category for her work on Murphy's Law by Rhys Bowen and Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth.

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Jackaby 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Many reviews rely on the fact that Ritter's book is supposed to be a merge between Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who. Thankfully, I did not read said comparison, but simply loved the cover so much that I had to pick the book up. As such, I went into the book with only the expectation that it would be an interesting mystery. I was not disappointed.  Ritter's book was engrossing from page one. Abigail Rook's adventure begins before the reader even picks up the book, so that the reader is swept up into her story right away, and eagerly awaits to see where her plucky nature will take her. And take her it does: to Jackaby, an eccentric Holmsian detective with a penchant for the paranormal. Rook finds herself an accidental assistant to Jackaby, who courts danger and the disfavor of the town and the police chief.  I loved the characters in Jackaby so much. Each character is believably exactly who they are: a caring ghost, a stubborn duck, an adventurous spirit, and a slightly off-kilter genius seer. And you believe them all for who they are. Regardless of the unlikely pairings for the historical time period, the characters and their defiant lives attach themselves to you.  The mystery itself was not overly difficult to solve, but it was surprising in its own way, and, more importantly, it was exciting to follow. The eerie and uncomfortable crimes portrayed in the book are haunting but also intriguing, and the ways in which the mystery is revealed to the detectives is entertaining. I enjoyed this indie author's debut novel very much and are eagerly awaiting the follow up(s) to Abigail and Jackaby's partnership. 
Anonymous 19 days ago
Easy read with quirky characters. Will read more in this series.
bluegreen91 21 days ago
Great mixture of mystery, historical fiction, and sci-fi! This book moves at a great pace, has interesting characters, and surprises throughout. Set in late-1800s New England, the lack of quick communication and paranormal acceptance make the jobs of title character Jackaby and his new assistant Abigail, quite challenging. I'm happy to have stumbled across this book and am ready to read the second in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Entertaining, fast-paced, and fun. Despite the supernatural and mystery, it is really light-hearted and funny, and overall a fun read. It's a unique new world and I enjoyed reading it. For fans of Lockwood & Co.
Trinitytwo More than 1 year ago
The year is 1892 and adventuresome Abigail Rook has recently arrived via merchant ship to the New England port town of New Fiddleham. Abigail has nowhere to stay, is short on funds, and desperately needs a job when she comes across an advertisement for an assistant in an investigative service paying $8.00 per week. Presenting herself at 926 Augur Lane, she soon learns that this is no ordinary detective agency. Instead, Abigail learns that her potential employer, R.F. Jackaby, specializes in the paranormal and has a gift for detecting supernatural beings. Abigail is skeptical but is determined to keep an open mind. She accompanies him to a murder scene where Jackaby senses the aura of the murderer, an unknown paranormal being of a highly malicious nature. Together, Jackaby and Abigail discover that the murderer is in fact a supernatural serial killer whose brutal spree is far from over. Jackaby, a paranormal detective story by William Ritter, is an exciting romp through old New England seen through the eyes of the extremely likable Abigail Rook. Abigail's back story underscores her thirst for adventure and she is an excellent foil to the supernatural investigator's somewhat dubious methods of cracking a case. Jackaby is delightfully reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, and the fact that he specializes in the preternatural gives this series an exciting twist. Like Sherlock, Jackaby is brilliant but socially awkward and Abigail, who deduces mundane clues often beyond her employer's grasp, completes the puzzle as the perfect Watson. Jackaby is satisfyingly unconventional and his eccentricities, such as sharing his home/office with both a beautiful ghost and a duck, who was once his assistant, add a flavor of the pleasantly unpredictable. His matter-of-fact introduction of various types of supernatural creatures to Abigail is entertaining and kept me amused and engaged. I like everything about this YA novel. Abigail and Jackaby's search to track down a supernatural serial killer makes it a page-turner, and as the body count surged, so did my adrenaline. I highly recommend Jackaby; it's a winning combination of wit and whimsy with characters that are earnest and likable. It's filled with enough mayhem and mystery to leave its readers craving more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This paranormal mystery was so much better than all the great reviews it received. I was throughly captivated from the first page to the last. The quirky characters make the story remarkable and the misadventures Ms. Abigail Rook and her exccentric new boss Jackaby (an investigator of a different sort) have you savouring each word and twist of the story like a gourmet meal. I believe that the mystery was secondary to the introductions and development of the characters who I hope will grace the pages of many more books to come. This story successfully transports you to a different time when our country was new and immigrants unknowingly often brought more than their families along with them. I look forward to more adventures with Jackaby and company. Hats off to a writer who really knows how to craft an excellent story! Jp
samalama143 More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time staying interested in this book even though the description sounded really good. It felt way to Sherlock-wanna-be at times which in turn made it seem like it was trying too hard. I liked the ending but I'm not sure if I liked it enough to want to read the second one.
dibbylodd More than 1 year ago
A delightful mix of so many genres. The idea of "Dr. Who meets Sherlock" (cover blurb) begins to touch it. Marvelously quirky and likable characters. From a young woman, to a ghost, to a human transformed into a duck, a police officer with something unusual about him, and, of course, Jackaby. I won't say more for fear of spoiling it. But DO read it.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
Okay, adding this to books I took a break after a couple of chapters. Then finally getting back to reading the book pile. Anyway, love that cover. The story sounded like my kind of read. Couldn't help but get Sherlock vibes from this obviously. The mystery was good, a bit confused near the end but throughout, I found the book to be a pretty good read. The characters of Abigail and the title character were not only likable but have their moments and were just fun to read. Same can be said for the writing style and pacing. Hope the next one is just as good.
Barbed1951 More than 1 year ago
Delightfully fantastic supernatural detective story with absolutely wonderful characters and a great setting. I loved it! This story is told from the point of view of Abigail Rook, who has just arrived in New Fiddleham, New England and needs to find a job and somewhere to live. After applying all over town with no luck, she comes across an ad for an investigative assistant, which is when she meets R.F. Jackaby. He investigates the supernatural doings in town, and describes himself as a seer, one who can see beyond the normal to the extraordinary. Immediately, they embark on a murder investigation, which turns out to be as dangerous as it is informative for Abigail. The more she’s around Jackaby, the more she learns of those creatures that are the stuff of fairy tales and nightmares, including Jenny, the very helpful resident ghost; hitchhiking little creatures she apparently picked up on her travels; a banshee; and the troll who lives under a bridge. They are not met with much support from the local police, except for young junior detective, Charlie Cane, who is helpful and less skeptical than the others, and who has secrets of his own. Abigail was determined to experience adventure and she certainly found it in her new position, once she convinces her new boss to hire her and keep her on. She is good at noticing the normal, everyday things that Jackaby overlooks, and I think they made a great team. I loved this small town, with all of it’s quirky residents, the normal and the supernatural. The humor and the adventure made for a rousing good story, and I certainly hope to read more about the smart and courageous Miss Rook as well as the eccentric R.F. Jackaby.
MaraBlaise More than 1 year ago
I would probably have given this book a solid five star review if the mystery had been better. But I figured out the bad guy very early on and then I just waited for everyone to catch on. But, despite that I really, really enjoyed this book. William Ritter has created a superb paranormal world with wonderful characters. Is the mix of ordinarily and paranormal that makes the book so good to read. Most of the people don’t know that there are banshees and werewolves, troll and goblins around them and that makes Jackaby such a great and eccentric character because he sees the “other world”. Beside the wonderful Jackaby we also Abigail Rook; an ordinary girl that happens to be locking for a job and find the one job perfect suited for someone looking for adventures. As an assistant to  investigator Jackaby. This is probably the first YA I have read in a long time that I have enjoyed really much! I’m so looking forward to reading the next book in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It was recommended to me by a friend who knows that I enjoy Sherlock and Doctor Who, and I agree that it has the feel of both without straying over into fanfic territory. The characters are interesting and well-written, even if they don't change very much over the course of the story, and I appreciate the plot throwing twists at me that I did not expect. At times I felt like the main females tried a little too hard to prove that they weren't the stereotypical female of the time, but that was only a minor annoyance and overall I found the book a pleasant and entertaining read. Definitely going to buy the sequel when it comes out.
KatsNook More than 1 year ago
Jackaby is an exciting paranormal mystery. This was a great adventure! Set in New Fiddleham, New England 1892, R.F. Jackaby is an investigator with a strange connection to the paranormal. The locals either think he is crazy or are devoted followers. Abigail Rook arrives in New Fiddleham looking for adventure and needs employment.  When Abigail answers Jackaby’s job ad for an assistant she begins the adventure she’s been longing for – a murder mystery in New Fiddleham.  Jackaby reluctantly has Abigail follow him to the crime scene, all the time expecting her to flee like his previous assistants.  But to his surprise Abigail is intelligent and has a keen sense of observation (especially for the ordinary facts that Jackaby seems to miss).  The two form a partnership, balancing the paranormal and normal facts of the case, and are determined to solve the mystery. The book does start off slow but the longer Jackaby and Abigail work together I became glued to the book.  The story was exciting with surprising twists I couldn’t stop reading!  I loved the action and the mystery of the story.  But most of all I loved Jackaby and Abigail and their humorous relationship.  Jackaby is the serious Sherlock Holmes from the classic novels but the author created a unique character that is charming and clever. He does have a difficult time of dealing with normal humans but just when you don’t expect it he shows a side of him that is attentive and caring.  Abigail is a strong, intelligent and independent young woman.  I liked that Jackaby treats Abigail with respect and appreciates her intellect. The two work well together to solve the mystery and the author had me laughing throughout the book. Abigail - “Are those pictograms? What’s that bit you just finished? The one that looks like a goose tugging at a big of string?” Jackaby – “That’s a seven.” Jackaby is well-written and I enjoyed the author’s creativity.  The story was a little predictable but I still enjoyed this.  I can’t wait to read the next book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A big thing that a book needs to catch my interest and hold it, are interesting characters. This book has an abundance of them, each one unique in their own way, and are unforgettable.While the mystery may be predictable it still catches your interest with fantastically creepy murders taking place around every corner. This book is just the right mix of supernatural elements and thoroughly likable characters. I can't wait to see where the characters are taken in the upcoming books.      
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I normally dislike fast-paced reads. However, William Ritter has perfected the art of telling the story quick, to the point, and with just enough detail! In his stunning first work, Ritter stole my heart with Jackaby. He's everything I love about Sherlock Holmes mixed with a little Professor Layton (from the NintendoDS games). You're told just enough about his world to let you understand the text, but at the same time, it begs you to keep reading! The simple character development captured me. Without going into overwhelming detail, I fell in love with characters I cannot wait to keep learning more about! Abigail is a daredevil, fearless character; an inspiration for young women to chase their dreams (although I wouldn't recommend the running away from home and your parents part, but I suppose things were different in the late 1800s compared to now). I simply cannot wait for this September to continue on Jackaby's journey! I hope that Ritter intends to write MANY Jackaby stories!
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rfb55 More than 1 year ago
Jackaby is a very well-written story reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes. I was pulled into the story right from the first and enjoyed the adventure all the way through. While I was sure of the villain's identity, the unfolding drama was exciting and unexpected. I enjoyed the interaction between characters and the amusing touches throughout gave relief from the more harrowing aspects of the case. Kudos to Mr. Ritter for this excellent read. I am looking forward to further adventures with Jackaby and his sidekick, Abigail.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Abigail Rook has few prospects when she arrives in New Fiddleham, New England in 1892. After fleeing her boring and proper life (and parents) in England, she is keen to continue her adventures in this new country. Unfortunately having adventures require certain necessities, all of which require money. After failing to get a series of menial jobs, Abigail finds herself in the unique position of serving as an investigative assistant to one R. F. Jackaby, investigator of the unexplained. While Jackaby has a keen eye for the extraordinary--complete with the ability to see supernatural creatures and magic auras--Abigail is especially skilled at seeing the ordinary details that come together as the basis of any investigation. Abigail and Jackaby, with the help of handsome police officer Charlie Cane, will have to work together to solve a series of grisly murders in New Fiddleham before they become the next victims--or the prime suspects in Jackaby (2014) by William Ritter. Jackaby is Ritter's first novel. A sequel, Beastly Bones, is slated for publication in September 2015. Abigail is a fine addition to the recent crop of strong and self-sufficient heroines. In addition to being key to Jackaby's investigation, Abigail is also a winsome narrator with quick thinking and a sharp tongue. It is wonderful to see a heroine who is able to acknowledge her strengths as easily as she does her weaknesses. Jackaby is a character who will feel immediately to fans of Sherlock Holmes. Although he is not entirely original, Jackaby's unfailingly belief in things unseen combined with his abrupt manner and deadpan humor make Jackaby a winning character in his own right. Ritter is at pains throughout Jackaby to stress that Abigail has no romantic interest in Jackaby whatsoever. Although it is great to see a mystery and a fantasy sans romance, it was also disappointing because these two characters complement each other so perfectly. The lack of romance is complicated (much to the plot's detriment) with secondary characters written in for both Abigail and Jackaby as quasi love interests. Abigails preoccupation with a certain police officer often feels particularly forced and unnecessary to the plot. Despite its winning characters, Jackaby is somewhat weak as a mystery. Ritter includes several fairly obvious clues early on to leave attentive readers waiting to see big reveals for most of the novel. Uneven pacing also move the narrative along in often clumsy starts and stops until the denouement which seems to drag needlessly. As a fantasy, Jackaby is an excellent novel with a fully realized world complete with a perfect blend of magic and historical details. A great choice for fans of historical fantasies or mysteries alike. Possible Pairings: Knightley and Son by Rohan Gavin, Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones, Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, Death Cloud by Andrew Lane, Winterspell by Claire Legrand, The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
zandar More than 1 year ago
Interesting fantasy with mystery. The plot thickens as the narrator meets Jackaby, with a lovely twist at the end.