Description 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.

 

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Source:  Pretty much everywhere …

Review:

I’m going to start off with the line that has the internet abuzz: “Doctor Who meets Sherlock…”

Sooo … Normally I don’t like campy comparisons like that in descriptions of books I’m about to read. I feel that it’s not necessarily fair to the characters of the book, who may or may not be that similar to the pop culture idols they’re supposed to emmulate. I feel that it’s not necessarily fair to the reader to be handed a comparison — either we’re pre-disposed to think it’s true by the time we read the book, or we’re let down by the fact that they’re not just like those characters. It’s also worth pointing out that you immediately declare “I’m targeting this audience,” and potential readers who don’t get the pop culture reference are left going, “Yeah, so?”

However, in this case, I approve. Having not yet read the book, I can’t speak to the accuracy of the representation (though I’ve read a handful of reviews by now that confirm that it’s not misleading). But if ever you were going to declare a target audience, capturing two heavily overlapping fandoms that also happen to have a strong correlation with readers of the genre (and related genres) is a smart move. What you miss in terms of audience from the fandoms you’ll probably capture from the amount of “oh my god, the world is ending, you have to read this book!” that is the typical response of happy fans. (You all know who you are >.>) It very likely might be what tips the scale between being on the edge and being sold by this description for some prospective readers.

Now that I’ve started my post with the end of the description, let’s talk about the rest of it.

The opening line definitely rings of Sherlock. A lot. So much that I initially wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Sure, I enjoy Sherlock Holmes (in many forms, not just Sherlock, though frequent readers of this blog know I hold Moffat as a god), but I want to make sure I’ll be reading some original enough to hold my attention. But then we introduce the main character, and I’m fascinated. I like the idea of a female version of Watson.

The clincher for me is the stark contrast between what Jackaby declares is going wrong and what Sherlock would say. A serial killer would have a perfectly rational explanation and nothing supernatural about it. If you asked Sherlock, whose views on paranormal affairs lean pretty rigidly toward being too impractical to exist. “But Jackaby  is certain its a nonhuman creature,” and I find that particularly compelling, especially since this Mystery novel has officially tipped into my favorite genre.

I’ll definitely be reading this book sometime in the relatively near future. And I can’t wait!

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Posted on September 8, 2014, in Description Reviews, Fantasy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I enjoyed this book. I haven’t seen Sherlock and only a few Dr Who episodes, but I feel like it’s a good comparison because it has the whole Sherlock Holmes vibe and I very much pictured Matt Smith’s Dr Who as Jackaby. I hope you enjoy it!

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