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Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)

Title: Jackaby (#1 Jackaby)

Author: William Ritter

Published: 25th of August 2015 – Algonquin Young Readers

Format: Paperback – 320 pages

“Illusions, so many masks and facades. 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.” – Jackaby

Hello Hello! How are you?

It’s my second day of class and the second impromptu review on my blog! I read this book in August with Candyce from The Book Dutchesses, right from the start we really enjoyed this one and we are going to be continuing on with the next one in the series in a week or so! Keep on reading for my thoughts on this very unique, paranormal fantasy! You’ll not be disappointed!


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 the foul deeds are the work of the kind of creature whose very existence the local authorities–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–seem adamant to deny.


Jackaby by William Ritter is a bit of a mixed bag, it is the first book in the series of the same name, and it is YA fantasy, mystery and historical fiction all mixed into one. Those are some of my favourite genres, so for them to be all mixed together was great for me. I’m so glad Candyce and I decided to buddy read it, we had so much fun and we are definitely going to continue buddy reading the other books in this series.


This book is set in New Fiddleham, in New England, in the United States in the 1890s. I love books set in the past and I don’t often read historical fiction set in small towns in the U.S., so this was a lovely new kind of setting. I thought that the town and the world-building was a little bit lacking and I feel like I had to fill in the gaps a few times, but otherwise, I really enjoyed this setting.

I loved Jackaby’s house, it was really well described and this gave me a lot of enjoyment and really made this book even better. The whole house is so eccentric, there are things absolutely everywhere, some extremely strange objects and people or should I say a ghost and a duck? And it was just a great place! I think it also helped me really get a feel of Jackaby and it reminded me SO MUCH of Sherlock Holmes from Elementary.

I also got some Charmed and Supernatural vibes from this book, the Elementary vibes were mainly from Jackaby himself, but the other two were more the setting and the plot. These are 3 of my all-time faves and I loved seeing little elements that reminded me of them in the book.


Jackaby: Jackaby was introduced in a way that you can’t help but see how eccentric and different he is from everyone else in New Fiddleham, and he has a reputation to go with it. I loved Jackaby right from the start, he gave me massive Sherlock (from Elementary) vibes. I loved getting to know him in this book and I am very excited to learn more about him and see him in action in the next books in the series as he is a really great character.

Abigail: I also loved Abigail straight away, she isn’t the stuck-up kind of female character you find in historical fiction, she is strong, resilient, she doesn’t want to be treated like a fragile woman and she wants adventure, fun, she wants to see the world and explore. I usually find female characters either really strong leads or really weak, but she was a great mix of strength and sensibility and I did really enjoy her character and narration. I can’t wait to see both of these characters together again.

Douglas: I don’t want to spoil you because learning who Douglas is was such a funny moment in the book, but what I will say is that I loved this bit. It was so funny and I want to know more about Douglas!

Jenny: Jenny is a ghost living in Jackaby’s house, and she really hits it off with Abigail. Jenny looks after Jackaby in some kind of sense, she is kind, and I also want to learn more about her. I thought Jenny and Douglas were great additions to the house and although they aren’t important in the actual plot, they were fun to read about.

Charlie: Charlie is the Junior Detective in the police force and wow, what a big surprise at the end! I am not going to explain anything, just that Charlie is not what you expect, and that makes him really intriguing. I think both Charlie and Abigail were drawn to one another at the start of the book and I was expecting them to get really close, I am hoping to see more of him in the next book. He is kind and loyal, he wants to do the best by everyone and he believes Jackaby more importantly.

Marlowe: There is always, always, a mean-ish, annoying and “fun police” type of character in these kind of books are Marlowe is exactly that. He is the Chief Inspector (I can’t remember exactly, but that’s basically what he is) and he is a bit like all these detectives and inspectors who hate when other characters get involved in the plot/crime and they lock them up in jail, even though they are right about the crime. There is always one of these characters in these books and it makes them really funny, in a sarcastic mocking kind of way. I didn’t really like him but I want to see more of him because the jibes between him and Jackaby were so fun to read.


Detective/Investigation: If there is something I love in a mystery novel, it’s a good investigation, a murder mystery and a fun detective and this book tick each of these boxes. I also love when there is a character like Marlowe because the banter and jibes between these two characters were so fun to read. I love a good investigation with evidence and such, and although this isn’t really what we have here, the plot and the investigation is still intriguing as Abigail gets to understand Jackaby through what they discover, she discovers the supernatural or “unseen” world and so does the reader!

Supernatural/unexplained phenomena: I love anything supernatural or unexplained as well. As I’ve said before, this book reminded me of a mix of Charmed, Supernatural and Elementary. If you love paranormal and supernatural elements in books, you’ll love this one as right from the start Jackaby explains how he sees everything and the way that these elements are introduced is really intriguing and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mystery/murder/death/violence: There is a mystery, there are murders so obviously death and it is a bit vivid, there is also a fight scene which is very violent, so if you are sensitive to this themes, then I would we careful going in. I don’t mind these at all, I actually enjoyed how all these themes were mixed together because it made the plot really strong and I liked how it was unravelled. I must admit that I found it a tad obvious and I would have preferred more suspense, but I think it was a really good set-up for the next books in this series.

“Hatun sees a different world than you or I, a far more frightening one, full of far more terrible dangers, and still she chooses to be the hero whom that world needs. She has saved this town and its people from countless monsters countless times. That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest battles always are.” – Jackaby


I was really drawn to this book with the blurb and also the little blurbs by authors that said it was a mix of Sherlock Holmes and Buffy, I totally agree, it’s just as good as both! I also loved the cover, and I am so glad that I finally got the chance to read this book because it has been on my shelves for a few years! I really enjoyed this buddy read with Candyce, we had great fun reading and discussing it and we are going to continue on with the series very soon!

Overall, this book was a really good set-up for the next books in the series. I found it to be lacking a little bit of world-building, suspense and maybe character believability, but I am expecting all these elements to get more concrete in the second instalment in this series. I thought the writing style was really good, it flowed and it definitely depicted this period and setting, I actually found that to give me more of the setting/time elements that I was lacking from the world-building. The characters were good, I didn’t really like Marlowe and I want to know more about Jenny and Douglas, but Jackaby and Abigail are definitely great characters and I’m excited to see more of them.

I gave this book 4 stars, I really enjoyed it and I got all my favourite genres wrapped into one book, I think this series is going to be very good and I am so excited to continue. If you love fantasy, mystery, historical fiction, supernatural and paranormal elements, funny, witty and intelligent characters and you like a bit of banter, then this book is for you! I hope you will give it a shot. You can find my full ASPECTS rating down below!

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post, see you soon, stay safe,

Ellie xx

“Monsters are easy, Miss Rook. They’re monsters. But a monster in a suit? That’s basically just a wicked man, and a wicked man is a more dangerous thing by far.” – Jackaby


Atmosphere – 6

Start – 5

Pacing – 7

Ending – 8

Characters – 6.5

Theme – 8

Style – 7

Total = 47.5

If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Amazon USWaterstonesBarnes and NobleScrib’dKobo


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