My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Move over Sherlock Holmes and Watson, and say hello to R.F. Jackaby and Abigail Rook. Instead of London and Scotland Yard, this eccentric detective and his sidekick are in Fiddleham, New England with one annoyed Inspector Marlowe.
The story begins with Abigail Rook, a young girl with a heart for adventure and discovery. When her misguided decision to abscond her university tuition and join a sketchy expedition for dinosaur fossils fails, she decides it’s easier to go to America than return to her disappointed parents in England.
It’s not long after Abigail lands in Fiddleham that she has her first encounter with Jackaby. Dressed in a long, brown coat with overstuffed pockets and equally long wool scarf, the man with the unruly, dark hair, shows up next to her at a tavern. He quickly relays specific details of Abigail’s trip to her. It doesn’t take Abigail long to realize that he is a detective of the unusual sort. Like that oh so famous Scotland Yard detective. Jackaby disappears into the night, and Abigail thinks nothing more of the strange encounter.
Desperate for work, Abigail scours the town but is unable to find a position. That’s when she finds an advertisement in the post office for an assistant for investigative services. When she shows up at the given address, she discovers none other than R.F. Jackaby. And that is when the game begans. She stumbles after him down the streets of Fiddleham as he rushes to the scene of a murder. Jackaby now has his Watson.
Here’s the fun part – Jackaby is not your average detective — he’s a seer. He has a special sight that allows him to see things that others can’t. Supernatural things, like ghosts, domovyk’s, goblins. Things that seem like legends and fairytales to others are very much alive to Jackaby. Now, there’s been a brutal murder in the city and Jackaby suspects the unnatural is involved. The inspector finds Jackaby an annoyance and his theories ridiculous. Even so, Jackaby relentlessly pursues the killer and Abigail finds herself in an adventure she never expected.
The spin on this book involving the supernatural is simply fantastic. If you take James Dashner’s flair for the curiously gruesome, and Madeleine L’Engle’s for the mystical, then add a dash of humor, you have William Ritter. I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, and I’m thrilled that Ritter has found a way to give us a new detective to love. I simply cannot wait for more Jackaby adventures. If you are a Sherlock fan, like mysteries with a supernatural-fantasy element, you’ll love this book.
I’m also happy to report that it’s clean teen fiction. Outside of a few mild swear words that seem appropriate for the setting, the book contains nothing inappropriate for teen readers.
Favorite line from the book: “DO NOT STARE AT THE FROG”