Review of Jackaby by Will Ritter

By: Will Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: September 16th 2014
Source: Jon from Scott Reads It
Format: Print ARC

My Rating:

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.

The Story:
First let me tell you that this book has been one of my most highly anticipated titles this year. My expectations rose and I must admit I was the slightest bit wary to open the book and read. It’s very hard to live up to “Doctor Who meets Sherlock.” That line grabbed me and not only rose my expectations but also made me nervous that there would be no way this book could actually live up to that. I’m sure you noticed my star rating so you know that I was not disappointed! I loved Will Ritter’s debut novel and I want so much more.

Jackaby combines so much that I love into one book it would be impossible for me not to love it- you have a paranormal detective story including a serial killer in a historical setting. All things I love. The novel read very quickly and the writing was beautiful but light enough to have a fast pace but still induce strong emotions. Here is an example of Ritter’s writing in Jackaby’s voice (this is from the ARC so might possibly differ in the final version):

She has saved this town and its people from countless monsters countless times. That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest battles always are. -104 ARC

Along with creating beautiful prose Ritter also did an excellent job describing the scenery and time period. I was easily able to visualize New Fiddleham and its occupants. My favorite location was Jackaby’s house. I loved every little description.

The Characters:
I loved the story but the best aspect for me was of course the characters. Jackaby was instantly likeable to me and I wanted nothing more than to read more and learn all the small details about him. I have to say that aspects of Jackaby seemed similar to the tenth Doctor. There wasn’t anything obviously the same but his general aura had that same 10th Doctor thing going. It’s hard to explain without you reading the book (so go and read it already).

We follow the story through Abigail’s point of view. I found her delightful and very easy to relate to. It wasn’t a stretch for me to easily slip into her shoes and insert myself into the story. I felt that she was the perfect companion and partner to Jackaby. I loved their interactions and how they played off each other.

The secondary characters were lovely as well and I couldn’t help but love the citizens of New Fiddleham. I found them all eclectic in their own ways and they were able to enhance the story.

As for the romance in this novel-it is rather scarce. There are some hints of some affections here and there (notably two). One between Abigail and a certain sir had more to do with the plot but I didn’t feel it overshadowed it at all. I believe some readers will be hoping for more romance to come and I feel that in future novels we will be getting a much deeper glimpse.

Final Thoughts:
As you can probably surmise I’m rather excited about this book. I fell in love with it and the characters and I can’t wait to read all the future books (I’m personally hoping for quite a bit more).

I will be interviewing Will Ritter later this month! Be sure to keep an eye out for it because I absolutely love his responses to my questions.


  1. says

    Super excited to get to this one, Kristen. Your review may just have pushed it up to the top of the pile after my current read. 😉 I don’t watch Sherlock — the complaining about the agonizing wait between episodes has put me off — but I LOVE Doctor Who. And I actually like when the romance is noticeably absent from the first book…that means it’ll likely be a slow-burn when it does develop, which is my favorite sort. I seriously cannot wait to read this now!

    • says

      YAY! I want to hear your thoughts when you get around to it. I adored it and I’m with you about the slow burn. The slower the better most of the time. And, Jen, you must watch Sherlock.

  2. says

    I’m so so happy to hear that you loved this one so much!! I’m so excited to hear the writing was great, and that the characters were fantastic!
    I cannot wait to get my hands on this one! Thanks for a fantastic review, Kristen!

  3. says

    Aw, yay 😀 Great review Kristen. <3 I'm so glad you ended up mostly loving this book 🙂 It wouldn't be for me, but it do look pretty cute, hih. But aw. No romance? 🙁 That is depressing, hah. But glad you enjoyed it anyway 😀 Fingers crossed there will be many more books that you will love. <3

    • says

      Yeah, there wasn’t a lot of romance but I’m expecting more as the series progresses. I actually think you’d like it if you were to read it.

  4. says

    I can not believe that this one has slipped right under my radar! Fabulous review, Kristen! I love a good “period” anything, but to have it be a mystery–urgh that just sold me. Now I’m very much excited, and this goes straight onto the TBR 🙂

  5. says

    I’m so excited that you love this book! You have great taste and so I enjoy reading your reviews and seeing what you’re currently reading, preparing myself for what’s next on your blog. I was really thrilled to see this review posted because I ‘ve been interested in the book for some time now, not to mention, I got approved for the ARC just yesterday!!!! Can’t wait to get into that. Thanks for sharing and again I’m so happy you enjoyed the book 🙂
    BIG HUGS xoxo
    Michelle @

    • says

      Thank you Michelle! You don’t know how much your comment means to me. I’m so excited you got approved yesterday! Please let me know when you post your review. *hugs* <3

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