Review: Jackaby by William Ritter


Author: William Ritter
Series: Jackaby #1
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Mystery, Historical
Pub Date: September 16th, 2014
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Purchased

Goodreads | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

“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 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.


TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters


I didn’t know what to expect going into Jackaby. The blurb compares it to Sherlock and Doctor Who, both of which I have never seen, so I had no real expectations going into it, except that I expected something paranormal with wacky shenanigans. Well, Jackaby did deliver on that! However, there were quite a few things I was disappointed in.

Jackaby was a fun novel. It tried to be serious, but it really wasn’t; I found it refreshing, actually. Abigail and Jacakby were trying to solve a murder mystery, but you would’ve never guessed it by Jackaby’s attitude and the witty remarks he shared with Abigail. It was supposed to be a murder mystery, but the detective was cracking jokes left and right.

Jackaby was by far the best thing about the novel. Abigail was our narrator, but she wasn’t very interesting, no matter how much depth the author tried to give her. I found her incredibly boring, and I couldn’t connect to her at all. Jackaby, however, was delightful. He was a very unique character, nothing like I’ve ever read before. He was incredibly smart and witty, and 90% of the reason why I kept reading this book was so that I could read more of him.

R.F. Jackaby couldn’t hold the entire story by himself, though. The plot itself sounded very promising at first. A murder mystery in 1800s New England involving supernatural creatures? It sounds amazing and full of fun little adventures. That couldn’t be farther from the truth though. The mystery itself was incredibly boring, and it seemed like Abigail and Jackaby never actually did anything. It felt like everything just coincidentally happened as they ran back and forth between like 3 different places. They went to the murder scene, went back to Jackaby’s house, found out new information, went to the murder scene, went back to Jackaby’s…can you see where I’m going with this?

There was some romance promised in the blurb, which I was very excited about! However, like everything else, that was dull, if not nonexistent. The most “romance” this book had to offer was a few quick glances between Abigail and Charlie Cane, a detective who also had a nonexistent personality, that resulted in blushing. I was woefully underwhelmed by this romance, even if it wasn’t supposed to be the central plot. There were a few “loose ends,” I suppose, between them that could lead into the sequel, but honestly, it was totally lackluster.

The writing itself was very good. It was so quirky, and I loved that! Everything felt beautifully described, the dialogue was witty and perfect, and it made me smile quite a few times. I had no problems with the actual writing, just the story.

Overall, Jackaby sounded promising but was completely underwhelming. The title character was one of the only interesting things; the main character was dull , the mystery was snooze worthy, and the writing was quirky but it wasn’t enough to keep this book afloat. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good either, which is almost worse in my mind. Judging by the blurb of the second book, I don’t think the next book will be any better, so I doubt I’ll be checking out the sequel.


Have you read Jackaby yet, or are you planning to? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!


12 thoughts on “Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

  1. Blaise @ thebookboulevard says:

    Jackaby is one of the few books I remembered to put back on my to-read list on goodreads, and I still intend to read it, but I’m a little less excited now. I just want this one to be good, because of the premise, but this review has been a bit of a damper. Thanks for the warning~


  2. Emily @ Forever Literary says:

    Ugh, I’ve heard really good things about this book, so I’m sorry to hear you were underwhelmed. It’s the absolute WORST when a book’s blurb gets you excited for a story element that doesn’t deliver, and as much as I love quirky writing and vivid description, that doesn’t sound like enough to hold my attention. But on a happier note, I love your “review at a glance” graphic!

    By the way, thanks for stopping by my best of 2015 list! My head is still spinning from The Walls Around Us, and I’m so glad you added a few titles to your TBR. 🙂


    • Alex @ Fiery Reads says:

      Yay, I’m glad you like my review at a glance section!! It really sucks when you have high hopes for a book and it turns out bad, but that’s okay. Thankfully, the book I read after Jackaby was much better so it was okay 🙂

      Thanks for commenting back on Fiery Reads! ❤


  3. Jess I. says:

    Wow, I really like your ” review at a glance” box! I saw this on BookOutlet and was tempted to by it. Unfortunately, well fortunately now, it was sold out. Good thing because, with the rating you gave it, I might as well pick it up from the library, or not at all.


  4. Sarah Cone says:

    I probably wouldn’t have picked this up if I’d seen it on a shelf somewhere; though the synopsis grabbed my attention, the things that bugged you about it, I know would bug me too. Thank you for the heads up; if I ever decide to read this, I’ll be prepared!


    • Alex @ Fiery Reads says:

      The cover and title were very “eh” in my opinion, although I do admit I love the color blue. I hope that if you ever give this book a chance you like it better than I did! Who knows, it might be the book for you 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s