Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

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Synopsis: Abigail Rook is barely on American soil before she is whisked into a fantastical adventure with her new employer, Mr. R. F. Jackaby. Jackaby is a detective who can see what most others can not, including the magical and mystical. When a dead body is found and a nearby man hears screaming that no one else notices, the curious Miss Rook, the odd (and according to multiple sources, dangerous), Mr. Jackaby, and the handsome cop they meet on the case, all set out to find the metal-booted man who is on a killing spree across America.

Review: This has been described as Sherlock meets Doctor Who, but I think it is more accurate to say that it is just Sherlock with some magic mixed in. This made for a fun, but not very original read. The characters, besides Jackaby perhaps, were little more than one-dimensional. Abigail, a bookish girl wanting more adventure, was an obvious female Watson. She had her own occasional insights into the cases and was continuously baffled by her employer and his ways. Her sense of adventure was likable, and her outspokenness towards the end of the novel was refreshing. With all that said, though, she fell a bit flat for me. Perhaps in later books there will be more revealed to her character, but as of now, there was nothing overly impressive about her.

There is surprisingly also very little about the character this book is named for. Jackaby, though a fun magical Sherlock, is almost too mysterious. There is little to nothing about his past, and I would have enjoyed learning more about it. Though at first he also seemed one-dimensional, there seemed to be a few more layers just waiting to be excavated in the future.

One major complaint about this book was the “insta-love” that seemed to happen between Abigail and Charlie (the cop they work with on the case). Though nothing of great importance comes from it in the book, they both seem to be immediately smitten with each other, despite having almost no moments of real conversation. They find each other attractive is all it really seems. Abigail thinks and worries about him fairly often throughout the novel. I can manage my way through some insta-love stories every now and then, but this one seemed too forced.

The villain was also rather predictable. I won’t give it away, but if you pay attention while reading, you’ll pretty much have a suspicion from the start. Stick with the initial suspicion, and it will carry you right to the culprit. You’ll just have to wait for the characters to catch on, of course.

Up until this point, it may sound like I wholly disliked this novel. To the contrary, I actually quite enjoyed it. Though simple, it was a fun read. It truly did read like an old Sherlock story, and I thought this was wonderful. The Sherlock tone and plot were captured perfectly. Overall, there was nothing that stuck out as horrible or boring. If you are looking for something deep and innovative, this probably isn’t the novel for you. If you want a quick, fun mystery/adventure story with some lovable characters, then you should pick this one up.

I would suggest for anyone who likes classic Sherlock Holmes books and stories, for those who like books with magic, and for those who are looking for a nice short book to read by the fire on a rainy weekend.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Cups of Tea

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