Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review: Jackaby

Jackaby (Jackaby, book one)
By William Ritter
Published 2014 by Algonquin Young Readers

Abigail Rook finds herself in need of employment. With not much initial luck, she finds herself taking on a most unusual assignment - assistant to one Mr. R.F. Jackaby, a very peculiar individual. Jackaby confesses that he can see the supernatural and, as they begin investigating a truly bizarre series of murders, Abigail starts to think that it may actually be true.

I remember hearing about this book prior to its release last year. I thought it sounded interesting, so of course I added it to my giant TBR list, knowing that it would likely be some time before I actually got around to reading it. I once again decided to participate in YALSA's Hub Challenge, prompting me to pick up this title much more quickly than I might have otherwise.

This book is billed as a cross between Doctor Who and BBC's Sherlock - neither is a show I watch. However, it's pretty easy to see where this billing comes from. Jackaby is quite clearly inspired by (if not a direct derivative of) the very idiosyncratic and no-nonsense Sherlock Holmes. Throw in a bit of the unexplainable (though, in this first volume, no aliens or time travel) and that's basically what you've got. It's quite entertaining, actually, and I'm glad I read it, but I'm not sure it'll stay with me forever.

I liked the characters, though I don't think they were as deeply developed as they could be. They really mostly seemed to exist as an excuse for the story - i.e. we're reading about these characters solely because Ritter needed a reason to put forth this paranormal mystery. There are glimpses of deeper characterization for Abigail and Jackaby (as well as several of the secondary characters) but, in this first volume, they feel pretty basic.

The story itself is fairly interesting - it actually kind of reminded me of an old episode of Supernatural. I thought the mystery was complex enough to keep me guessing and I liked that Ritter incorporated both well-known and lesser-known mythological/paranormal creatures. I'll be interested to see what other kinds of legends show up in future books.

So, I suppose that makes it clear that I'm interested in checking out more books in the series as they come. I thought it was a fun, quick read that kept me guessing.

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