For Fans of Sherlock and Doctor Who | Jackaby by William Ritter

Friday, November 18, 2022

 Jackaby by William Ritter

Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: 9/16/14
Pages: 299
Source: BookExpo (Thank you, Algonquin!)
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. Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.
Abigail Rook just arrived in America and is in want of a job. When she comes across a job posting for an assistant, little does she know what she is about to get into. Following the instructions on the flyer, it leads her to Jackaby’s office where she is thrown into a gruesome murder case that needs solving. 

A Sherlock-esque Character With a Supernatural Twist

I much prefer going into books blind. Sometimes the synopsis tells me very little but more often than not, it tells me too much. In this case, however, I went into the story having a sort of assumption on what it was about and getting it wildly wrong. I received Jackaby at a publishing conference and I remember discussing the book with the publisher at the conference. I must have known what it was about then but years later, I believed it to be a retelling of Jack the Ripper. Could I have been more wrong? And I’m so happy that I was wrong because what Jackaby is, truly, is magnificent. 

Let me introduce you to Jackaby himself. He will surely remind any reader who is aware of Sherlock Holmes of the man himself. The way he deducts facts is truly entertaining to encounter. However, where Sherlock Holmes solves cases that have nonfictional explanations, Jackaby believes in the supernatural.

It is a wonderful twist on a classic character that I am sure fans of Sherlock Holmes will absolutely love.

Incredibly Fun and Hilarious

This is not a serious book. If you are looking for a hard crime novel, this book is not for you. The plot is laugh-out-loud funny. One of the many things I adored about Jackaby is that William Ritter was not afraid to make the plot a little ridiculous.  He emphasizes a lot of hilarious scenes in the most normal way. Yes, there may be a swamp on the third floor but this is entirely normal. This comes across extremely fun and lighthearted. 

Superb Characters

I cannot praise this book enough. Jackaby is the star of the show, wowing readers with his deductive reasoning and crazy experiments. However, the narrator, Abigail Rook was the character who stood out to me the most. I couldn’t help but wonder more about her. Most of the time she seemed caught up in Jackaby’s world and I can’t wait to read the other books in the series to find out why Jackaby’s world is so intriguing to her. 

In today’s YA, it is so difficult to find books with little to no romance. But I’ve found one! Jackaby has barely any romance. It makes the book and its characters so likable. Jackaby and Abigail, though they work together, are NOT in love with each other. Finally, this book gives us a fantastic female and male relationship that does not involve romance. We need more books like this!

Jackaby was filled with a great cast of characters. 

Fantastic Writing

Despite Jackaby being closely compared to Sherlock, I found the story to be very unique. The world building was done really well. It was set in historical America but Jackaby opens a whole new world to Abigail with his introductions of several supernatural characters. Each new introduction flowed into the plot seamlessly. 

The case of the serial killer was very intriguing. Readers will get lost in the suspects, trying to solve the case themselves before it is revealed. The story was both a lot of fun and, also, unpredictable. There was never a dull moment to catch your breath. It is a book to easily fall in love with.


Overall, Jackaby is a wonderful book that will mystify readers with its great world building, fun characters, and hilarious lightheartedness. Fans of Sherlock and Doctor Who will be sure to love this action packed fun. 

Jackaby (9/16/14)
Beastly Bones (9/22/15)
Ghostly Echoes (8/23/16)
The Dire King (8/22/17)

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