on September 16th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.” 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 a debut novel, the first in a series, brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.
Jackaby was without a doubt my most anticipated read ever since I learned of its existence (you know, about three months ago). It sounded intriguing, especially with the way it was being marketed – “Sherlock meets Doctor Who”. I mean, that’s every fangirl’s wet dream, right?
Then the negative reviews started flowing in, and I grew wary of the book. Nevertheless, when someone gifted it to me during the Ninja Halloween Book Swap, there was nothing for me to do but to pick up this book and form my own opinion of it.
Truth be told, I really enjoyed it. It really felt like a modern Sherlock novel, only with a supernatural twist.
Jackaby is without a doubt one of the most interesting characters I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this year. This consulting detective does not only solve murders, but he solves murders committed by trolls and pixies and all the other stuff that goes on in the other dimension. That’s where the Doctor Who part comes in, also because he’s quite eccentric. In fact, Miss Oddball over at Fangirling Misses, who hadn’t seen Doctor Who, compared Jackaby to the Mad Hatter instead, which I thought was a really accurate statement.
There is definitely a little bit of Sherlock:
“I have ceased concerning myself with how things look to others, Abigail Rook. I suggest you do the same. In my experience, others are generally wrong.”
As well as the strangeness of the Doctor:
“This world is full of dragon-slayers. What we need are a few more people who aren’t too proud to listen to a fish.”
And, well, how can you not love it?
It was definitely the weirdness of it all that lured me in. I didn’t feel as compelled by the murder mystery, but more by the fact that this was a world filled with the fantasy elements that I love so much. It had me laughing, just because it was so deliciously weird. When you enter Jackaby’s home, you’re told not to stare at the frog. There is indeed a frog, and if you do stare at it, the frog lets loose a most terrible stench that lasts for hours. There’s a pond on the second floor with a man-sized duck, and a ghost named Jenny. Furthermore, there’s a chapter missing as per Jackaby’s request and they make fun of Belgium. The book is filled with small oddities like that, which made me appreciate the story so much more.
What I also appreciated was that there is no heavy emphasis on romance. There is a love interest, but it doesn’t drive the book, nor is it filled with cheese. It was sweet, just that, nothing more, nothing less.
If you’ve been drooling over this book and that amazing cover for the last couple months but you’re unsure as to whether you’ll like it or not, I say – pick it up. Give it a try. Maybe not for the crime aspect, but I assure you you’ll appreciate the weirdness. It sounds entirely familiar, for don’t we all have a little weirdness inside of us?
“She has saved this town and its people from countless monsters countless times. That the battles are often in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest battles always are.”