Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

“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.

Oh Jackaby, you had so much promise and you really didn’t live up to it. But then, maybe I’m just a picky customer. Feeling decidedly in need of something close to Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia series, Jackaby seemed like a pretty good bet. Mysteries! Deaths! Crime! Supernatural! Sleuthing! Victorian! Sherlock meets Dr Who? Oh yes please to all of the above!

So I dove straight in expecting to be blown away, but instead was mildly put out by the most ridiculous of things. Abigail Rook is supposed to be an English girl – admittedly she has been travelling for some time by the time the story begins, but still, she is a well bred English woman. So why does she insist on narrating and speaking with so many Americanisms? And not only that, but modern ones too? It was enough to make me weep with despair and my poor husband try and wrench the book from my hands. That one very idiotically simple thing virtually ruined the book for me. It put me in such a rubbishly grumpy frame of mind that enjoyment was pretty much squashed. Which is tragic because it could have been so very, very good.

There are so many brilliant ideas in this novel. Some were a bit of a stretch for me – the third floor was pushing my brain a little bit simply because I was expecting one type of book and was being given one that had more magic in than I was expecting. And as a result it could have been something brilliant. But the modern Americanisms in her thoughts and speech combined with a stupidly easy to spot murderer left me feeling more than a little disgruntled.

For fans of the supernatural and mysterious deaths with some wonderful fokelore and ideas woven in, this book is definitely worth a read, but be warned going in that if you are picky about English ladies speaking like English ladies, this book may well drive you up the wall. 

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