Find your next favorite book

Become a member today and read free for 30 days


Read preview


4/5 (159 ratings)
276 pages
4 hours
Sep 16, 2014


From Scribd: About the Book

A foul creature, an extraordinary investigator, and an assistant with an eye for the details, Jackaby is a thrilling adventure for anyone who enjoys an excellent supernatural detective story. Abigail Rock, new to New England in 1892, finds herself working as the assistant to R.F. Jackaby, an investigator with an eye for supernatural creatures.

When it's revealed that a serial killer is on the loose, Jackaby is convinced that it must be an otherwordly creature despite local authorities thinking it's just another ordinary villain. Abigail and Jackaby work on their case, trying to find evidence and find the monster, while Charlie Cane, a handsome detective and the only officer who believes them, does his best to help the two.

Abigail and Jackaby navigate the thrilling case, face danger at every turn, and work together to catch the killer. This book is hard to put down once it's started, and you might find yourself looking over your shoulder after you've finished.

Sep 16, 2014

About the author

William Ritter is an Oregon author and educator. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark.The Oddmireis Ritter’s first series for middle-grade readers. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling, award-winning Jackaby series for young adult readers. Visit him online at and find him on Twitter: @Willothewords.

Related to Jackaby

Book Preview

Jackaby - William Ritter


Chapter One

It was late January, and New England wore a fresh coat of snow as I stepped along the gangplank to the shore. The city of New Fiddleham glistened in the fading dusk, lamplight playing across the icy buildings that lined the waterfront, turning their brickwork to twinkling diamonds in the dark. In the inky black of the Atlantic, the reflected glow of the gaslights danced and bobbed. I made my way forward, carrying everything that traveled with me in a single suitcase. The solid ground beneath my feet felt odd after so many weeks at sea, and looming buildings rose up around me on all sides. I would come to know this city well, but in that cold winter of 1892, every glowing window and dark alley was strange, full of untold dangers and enticing mysteries.

It was not an old city—not by the standards of those I had seen along my travels—but it bore itself with all the robust pomp and granite certainty of any European harbor town. I had been to mountain villages in the Ukraine, burgs in Poland and Germany, and estates in my native England, but still I found it hard not to be intimidated by the thrum and pulse of the busy American port. Even as the last of the evening light faded from the sky, the dock was still alive with shadowy figures, hurrying about their business.

A storekeeper was latching the shutters as he closed up shop for the night. Sailors on leave sauntered down the harbor, looking for wild diversions on which to spend their hard-earned money—and women with low necklines looked eager to help them spend it faster. In one man I saw my father, confident and successful, probably strolling home late, once again, having devoted the evening to important work rather than his waiting family.

A young woman across the dock pulled her winter coat tightly around herself and ducked her chin down as the crowd of sailors passed. Her shoulders might have shaken, just a little, but she kept to her path without letting the men’s boisterous laughter keep her from her course. In her I saw myself, a fellow lost girl, headstrong and headed anywhere but home.

A chilly breeze swept over the pier, and crept under the worn hem of my dress and through the seams of my thick coat. I had to throw up a hand to hold the old tweed cap on my head before it blew away. It was a boy’s fashion—my father called it a newsboy—but I had grown comfortable in it in the past months. For once I found myself wishing I had opted for the redundant underskirts my mother always insisted were so important to a lady’s proper dress. The cut of my simple green walking gown was excellent for movement, but the fabric did nothing to hold back the icy chill.

I turned my wooly collar up against the snow and pressed forward. In my pockets jingled a handful of coins left over from my work abroad. They would buy me nothing but sympathy, I knew, and only if I bargained very well. Their foreign faces told a story, though, and I was happy for their tinkling company as I trudged through the crunching powder toward an inn.

A gentleman in a long brown coat with a scarf wound up nearly to his eyebrows held the door for me as I stepped inside. I dusted the fresh flakes from my hair as I hung my hat and coat beside the door, tucking my suitcase beneath them. The place smelled of oak and firewood and beer, and the heat of a healthy fire brought a stinging life to my cheeks. A half-dozen patrons sat scattered about three or four round, plain, wooden tables.

In the far corner stood a box piano, its bench unoccupied. I knew a few melodies by heart, having taken lessons all through grammar school—Mother had insisted that a lady should play an instrument. She would have fainted at the notion that I might someday put her fine culture and training to such vulgar use, especially unescorted in this strange, American tavern. I quickly turned my thoughts away from my mother’s overbearing prudence before I might accidentally see reason in it. I put on my most charming smile, instead, and approached the barman. He raised a bushy eyebrow as I neared, which sent a ripple of wrinkles to the dome of his bald head.

Good afternoon, sir, I said, drawing up to the bar. My name is Abigail Rook. I’m just off a boat, and I find myself a bit short on cash, at present. I wonder if I could just set up a hat on your piano and play a few—

The bartender interrupted. It’s out of service. Has been for weeks.

I must have shown my dismay, because he looked sympathetic as I turned to go. Hold on, then. He poured a frothy pint and slid it across the bar to me with a nod and a kindly wink. Have a seat for a while, miss, and wait out the snow.

I hid my surprise behind a grateful smile, and took a stool at the bar beside the broken piano. I glanced around at the other patrons, hearing my mother’s voice in my head again, warning me that I must look like that sort of girl, and worse, that the drunken degenerates who frequented these places would fix their eyes on me like wolves on a lost sheep. The drunken degenerates did not seem to notice me in the least, actually. Most of them looked quite pleasant, if a bit tired after a long day, and two of them were playing a polite game of chess toward the back of the room. Holding the pint of ale still felt strange, as though I ought to be looking nervously over my shoulder for the headmaster to appear. It was not my first drink, but I was unaccustomed to being treated as an adult.

I peered at my own reflection in a frosty window. It had been scarcely a year since I had put the shores of England behind me, but the rugged young woman looking back from the glass was barely recognizable. The salty sea air had stolen some of the softness from my cheeks, and my complexion was tan—at least tan by English standards. My hair was not braided neatly and tied with ribbons, as my mother had always preferred it, but pinned up in a quick, simple bun that might have been a little too matronly if the wind had not shaken loose a few curving wisps to hang free about my collar. The girl who had fled the dormitories was gone, replaced by this unfamiliar woman.

I forced my attention past the reflection to the flurries of white flakes somersaulting in the lamplight beyond. As I nursed the bitter drink, I became gradually aware of a body standing behind me. I turned slowly and nearly spilled the pint.

It was the eyes, I think, that startled me the most, opened wide and staring with intense inquisition. It was the eyes—and the fact that he stood not half a pace from my stool, leaning ever so slightly in, so that our noses nearly bumped as I turned to face him.

His hair was black, or very dark brown, and nearly wild, having only enough civility to point itself in a tousled heap backward, save a few errant strands that danced about his temples. He had hard cheekbones and deep circles under pale, cloud gray eyes. His eyes looked like they could be a hundred lifetimes old, but he bore an otherwise young countenance and had a fervent energy about him.

I pulled back a bit to take him in. He was thin and angular, and his thick brown coat must have been as heavy as he was. It fell past his knees and sagged with the weight of several visibly overstuffed pockets. His lapel was bordered by a long, wooly scarf, which hung almost as long as the coat, and which I recognized as the one I had passed coming in. He must have doubled back to follow me.

Hello? I managed to say, when I had regained balance atop my stool. Can I help—?

You’re recently from the Ukraine. It was not a question. His voice was calm and even, but something more . . . amused? He continued, his gray eyes dancing as though exploring each thought several seconds before his mouth could voice it. You’ve traveled by way of Germany, and then a great distance in a sizable ship . . . made largely of iron, I’d wager.

He cocked his head to one side as he looked at me, only never quite square in the eyes, always just off, as though fascinated by my hairline or shoulders. I had learned how to navigate unwanted attention from boys in school, but this was something else entirely. He managed to seem both engrossed and entirely uninterested in me all at once. It was more than somewhat unsettling, but I found myself as intrigued as I was flustered.

With delayed but dawning comprehension, I gave him a smile and said, "Ah, you’re off the Lady Charlotte as well, are you? Sorry, did we meet on deck?"

The man looked briefly, genuinely baffled, and found my eyes at last. Lady who? What are you talking about?

"The Lady Charlotte, I repeated. The merchant carrier from Bremerhaven. You weren’t a passenger?"

I’ve never met the lady. She sounds dreadful.

The odd, thin man resumed examining my person, apparently far more impressed by my hair and the seams of my jacket than by my conversation.

Well, if we didn’t sail together, how did you ever—ah, you must have snuck a peek at my luggage labels. I tried to remain casual, but leaned away as the man drew closer still, inspecting me. The oak countertop dug into my back uncomfortably. He smelled faintly of cloves and cinnamon.

I did nothing of the sort. That would be an impolite invasion of privacy, the man stated flatly as he picked a bit of lint from my sleeve, tasted it, and tucked it somewhere inside his baggy coat.

I’ve got it, I announced. You’re a detective, aren’t you? The man’s eyes stopped darting and locked with mine again. I knew I was onto him this time. Yes, you’re like whatshisname, aren’t you? The one who consults for Scotland Yard in those stories, right? So, what was it? Let me guess, you smelled salt water on my coat, and I’ve got some peculiar shade of clay caked on my dress, or something like that? What was it?

The man considered for a moment before responding. Yes, he said at last. Something like that.

He smiled weakly, and then whirled on his heels and away, tossing his scarf around and around his head as he made for the exit. He crammed a knit hat over his ears and flung the door open, steeling himself against the whirling frost that rushed in around him. As the door slowly closed, I caught one last glimpse of cloudy gray eyes just between the wooly edges of his scarf and hat.

And then the man was gone.

Following the curious encounter, I asked the barman if he knew anything about the stranger. The man chuckled and rolled his eyes. I’ve heard lots of things, and one or two of them might even be true. Just about everyone’s got a story about that one. Isn’t that right, boys? A few of the locals laughed, and began to recall fragments of stories I couldn’t follow.

Remember that thing with the cat and the turnips?

Or the crazy fire at the mayor’s house?

My cousin swears by him, but he also swears by sea monsters and mermaids.

For the two older gentlemen on either side of the chessboard, my query sparked to life an apparently forgotten argument, one that burst quickly into an outright quarrel about superstitions and naivete. Before long, each had attracted supporters from the surrounding tables, some insisting the man was a charlatan, others praising him as a godsend. From the midst of the confusing squabble I was at least able to catch the strange man’s name. He was Mr. R. F. Jackaby.

Chapter Two

By the following morning I had managed to put Mr. Jackaby out of my thoughts. The bed in my little room had been warm and comfortable, and had cost only an hour’s worth of cleaning dishes and sweeping floors—although the innkeeper had made it very clear that this was not to be a lasting arrangement. I threw open the drapes to let the morning light pour in. If I planned to continue my bold adventure without reducing myself to living beneath a bridge and eating from rubbish bins—or worse, writing to my parents for help—I would need a proper job.

I hefted my suitcase to the bed and opened it with a click. The garments within were pressed up to either side, as though embarrassed to be seen with one another. To one end, fine fabrics with delicate, embroidered hems and layers of lace began immediately to expand, stretching in the morning light as the compressed fabric breathed again. Opposite the gentle pastels and impractical frippery sat a few dust-brown denim work trousers and tragically sensible shirts. A handful of undergarments and handkerchiefs meekly navigated the space between, keeping quietly to themselves.

I stared at the luggage and sighed. These were my options. One by one I had worn through everything in between, until I was faced with these choices, which seemed to reflect my lot in life. I could costume myself as a ruddy boy or as a ridiculous cupcake. I plucked a plain camisole and drawers from the center of the suitcase and then pulled the top closed in disgust, stuffing the fancy dresses back down against their muffled protests. The simple green walking dress I had worn for my arrival hung over the bedpost, and I held it up in the sunlight. Its hem was tired, still a bit damp from the previous night’s snow, and growing frayed from use. I pulled it on anyway and wound my way back downstairs. I would look for a job first, and new clothes after.

By the light of day, New Fiddleham felt fresh and full of promise. The air was still crisp as I embarked on my trek into town, but the cold was a little less invasive than it had been during the night. I felt the tingle of excitement and hope tickle along my spine as I hefted my suitcase up the cobbled streets. This time, I resolved, I would find conventional employment. My previous and only real prior job experience had come from foolishly following an advertisement with bold, capitalized words like EXCITING OPPORTUNITY, and CHANCE OF A LIFETIME, and, probably most effective in capturing my naive attention, DINOSAURS.

Yes, dinosaurs. My father’s work in anthropology and paleontology had instilled in me a thirst for discovery—a thirst he seemed determined I should never quench. Throughout my childhood, the closest I had come to seeing my father’s work had been during our trips to the museum. I had been eager to study, excelled in school, and had anticipated higher education with excitement—until I found out that the very same week my classes were to begin, my father would be leaving to head the most important dig of his career. I had begged him to let me go to university, and been giddy when he finally convinced my mother—but now the thought of suffering through dusty textbooks while he was uncovering real history made me restless. I wanted to be in the thick of it, like my father. I pleaded with him to let me come along, but he refused. He told me that the field was no place for a young lady to run around. What I ought to do, he insisted, was finish my schooling and find a good husband with a reliable job.

So, that was that. The week before my semester was to begin, I plucked the EXCITING OPPORTUNITY advertisement from a post, absconded with the money my parents had set aside for tuition, and joined an expedition bound for the Carpathian Mountains. I had been afraid that they wouldn’t take a girl. I picked up a few trousers in a secondhand shop—all of them too big for me, but I rolled the cuffs and found a belt. I practiced speaking in a lower voice and stuffed my long, brown hair into my grandfather’s old cap—it was just the sort all the newsboys wore, and I was sure it would complete my disguise. The end result was astounding. I had managed to completely transform myself into . . . a silly, obvious girl wearing boys’ clothing. As it turned out, the leader of the dig was far too occupied with managing the barely funded and poorly orchestrated affair to care if I was even human, let alone female. He was just happy for a pair of hands willing to work for the daily rations.

The following months could be described as an exciting opportunity only if one’s definition of excitement included spending months eating the same tasteless meals, sleeping in uncomfortable cots, and shoveling rocky dirt day in and day out on a fruitless search. With no recovered fossils and no more funding, the expedition collapsed, and I was left to find my own way back from the eastern European border.

Stop your dreaming and settle! seemed to be the prevailing message of the lesson I’d spent several months and a full term’s tuition to learn. It was on the tails of that abysmal failure that I found myself at a German seaport, looking for passage back to England. My German was terrible—nearly nonexistent. I was halfway through negotiating the price of a bunk on a large merchant carrier called the Lady Charlotte when I finally understood that the captain was not sailing to England at all, but would be briefly making port in France before crossing the wide Atlantic bound for America.

Most jarring of all was my realization that the prospect of sailing across the ocean to the States was much less frightening to me than that of returning home. I don’t know whether I was more afraid of confronting my parents, having stolen away with the tuition money, or of confronting the end of my adventure, which felt as though it had never really even had a middle.

I purchased three items that afternoon: a postcard, a stamp, and a ticket on the Lady Charlotte. My parents most likely received the post about the same time I was watching the shores of Europe drift behind me, and the vast, misty blue ocean expand before me. I was not so naive and hopeful as I had been when my voyage began, but the world was growing larger by the day. The postcard was brief, and read simply:

Dearest Mother and Father,

Hoping you are well. As you had previously cautioned, a professional dig site proved to be no place for a young lady to run around. Currently in seek of a better location to do so.


A. Rook

Now that I was here in New Fiddleham, I was not ready to abandon my foray into adventure, but I would compromise by taking a conventional job to sustain it.

My first prospective stop was a general goods store. A bell chimed as I entered, and the shopkeeper, a thin, older woman, looked up from a flat loaded high with flour sacks. Good morning, dearie! Be right with you! She heaved one of the heavy bags to a shelf behind her, but it caught the corner of the rack and threw her off balance. The parcel hit the floor and burst in a billowing, white cloud. Oh bother! Would you wait, just a moment? she said apologetically.

Of course. Please—let me help you with those, I said, setting my suitcase beside the door and stepping in. The woman accepted my offer happily, and I began lifting bags to the shelf while she fetched a broom and

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1


What people think about Jackaby

159 ratings / 55 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Abigail Rook has a knack for noticing ordinary details and when she meets supernatural investigator R.F. Jackaby, it turns out that he needs an assistant that can see the regular world better than him. The first book in the series is a supernatural murder mystery where we get to know the main players and are treated to an interesting new fictional world, based in 19th century New England. Jackaby is a fun twist on Sherlock Holmes and I plan to continue the series to see if it is as good as this first installment makes me think it could be.
  • (4/5)
    Received from Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an completely unbiased review.
    Also posted on Silk & Serif

    Want a little alternate history with a paranormal Sherlock Holmes? Something unique and quirky?
    New England, 1892. Abigail Rook has a knack for seeing the ordinary details in the most un-ordinary situations. It's this talent that leads her to become employed by the strange and slightly insane R.F Jackaby.

    When a serial killer begins to commit gruesome murders, striking fear in the residents of New Fiddleham, Jackacky wastes no time in getting involved. Only problem is the Police want New Fiddleham's most bonafide quack detective far away from their crime scenes.

    Meanwhile, Abigail is exposed to plenty of strange creatures and raises the question: just what has she gotten herself into? And does she want to continue being Jackaby's assistant even if it could lead to her death?
    Banshees, were-creatures, psychics and all manner of non-human creatures debut in Ritter's young adult take on Sherlock Holme's murder mystery genre.

    Oh Jackaby, Jackaby.
    I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Jackaby before I started. I guess I expected more macabre and less humour. I'm not sure, but I found myself a bit off kilter once I started reading the first book of William Ritter's Jackaby series. The whole book was sort of like an introduction to Jackaby's world and Ritter's writing style..not that this is a bad thing..both are very crafty and wonderful.

    I was satisfied with the novel in the end and I regret that I didn't pay attention to the smaller details. I've gotten so comfortable reading novels with plenty of filler lines that I missed some really big hints regarding the villain's identity and how he committed the murders. Thankfully, Ritter is kind enough to fill us all in at the end on the clues he sprinkled through out the book - which are really obvious once you finish the book!
    Jackaby harks back to when detective mysteries were cunning and tricky with plenty of hints for readers to pick up on if they are paying close enough attention.
    I loved the unique sense of humour. Jackaby is an odd ball with plenty of eccentricities and often I found myself grinning at the Sherlock Holmes type humour randomly dispersed among general dialogue. Jackaby, like Sherlock Holmes, lacks plenty of social graces and relies on Abigail to try to smooth feathers (not that he's aware he's even being inappropriate!). He's often stuck in his own world, following leads without explaining himself to poor, exasperated Abigail who cannot help but follow.

    I wasn't sure whether I liked Jacaby until I started reading Beastly Bones and realized that Jackaby is only an introduction to a strong and fantastic detective team with some really amazing secondary characters. Honestly, I think this series is only going to get better with time..

    This novel will appeal to Sherlock Holme fans, mystery fans, lovers of young adult paranormal series, tales of alternate histories and unique story telling. Jackaby is an intelligent and witty novel completely unlike anything else on the market, utilizing humour an paranormal investigation to solve mysteries that appear average at first glace.
  • (3/5)
    Jackaby is a YA fantasy story about a young women from around 1900 (I think) who gets a job with a detective who can see supernatural creatures. Right when she’s hired, there’s a supernatural serial killer on the loose. Unfortunately, while Jackaby had a lot of potential, the end result was just bland and largely forgettable.Abigail Rook is the daughter of an English society lady and an archaeologist. Her entire life she’s read tales of adventure and longed to join her father on his digs, despite her parents instance that it is not proper for a young lady. When it comes time for her to go off to higher education, she takes the money for tuition and runs away to join a dig. The experience not being what she hoped, she winds up in America, in need of a job. She soon finds employ with R.F. Jackaby, a detective with supernatural sight. Almost immediately they start investigating a case of a serial killer that Jackaby insists has a supernatural element.The back blurb really should have provided a clue of my end feelings towards this novel: “features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant.” Abigail largely exists as a view point character, but she does not do very much outside of being an observer. Given that the book is named after Jackaby and he’s the one featured on the cover, I really should have seen this coming. Still, I feel like you need your narrator to do something.I wasn’t impressed with Abigail, but I also wasn’t very interested in any of the other characters either. Jackaby was a detective in the Sherlock Holms mode with the whole “second sight” twist, but he still ended up feeling like an uninspired character I’d seen before. There’s a few other secondary characters of note – a ghost named Jenny and a police constable who acts as Abigail’s love interest (although there’s not much romance overall). These characters had potential, but they never really captured me either.If there’s one thing good about the book, it has an enjoyable whimsical element and uses folkloric creatures beyond those that you normally see in urban fantasy. There’s kobalds and banshees and not a vampire in sight.Regarding the audio format, the narration mostly pretty good. The author had an accent that went well with Abigail’s background. However, I did find the way she did Jackaby’s voice annoying.Would I recommend Jackaby? I wouldn’t push it into your hands, but I wouldn’t advise against it either. There’s worse books you could read. But then again, there’s also better.Originally posted The Illustrated Page.
  • (4/5)
    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 kiler 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. - back cover of book What a well written blend of plucky protagonist, scenes of mystery and danger, aptly described characters who take a page from the Sherlock Holmes tradition and add a supernatural quirkiness. Wonderful! highly recommended for teens who enjoy mysteries or are Sherlock Holmes-1890s era fans.
  • (3/5)
    Not quite 3 stars for me, but I decided to round up.
  • (3/5)
    This book was a little slow to start. However I find that because the characters are so interesting and have their own quirks you find yourself sticking to the story because they’re so fascinating. When I was reading about Jackaby and his character he bears the resemblance of an unorthodox detective whose social skills are rather lacking (speaks his mind without realizing he’s offending) but who happens to be brilliant at what he does and those in the police force grudgingly accept his help because they have no one else to turn to. So in turn you can see why Abigail is needed in this partnership. She provides the social skills and provides insight on things that Jackaby might miss. Which is why they make an interesting team. Although he’s eccentric and Abigail may come off as ‘normal’ they both are similar because they both don’t stick to the social norms that society at the time (18th century USA) which is why they make good teamwork. Not to mention, Abigail is also searching for adventure and working with Jackaby provided just that.The world building is interesting and good. There’s supernatural elements and creatures throughout the city in hiding. Those with special vision (Jackaby) would be able to spot them whereas Abigail accepts this - a little too accepting but going with the notion that she needed to find employment right away to survive, I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. It still ended up being the right choice anyway.Other secondary characters (Jenny and Douglas) are good fillers to provide more substance to Jackaby’s world. I enjoyed reading about Charlie and I hope he makes another appearance in the next novel. I would say, stick to the story because of the characters that you end up liking as the book progresses. It does get exciting in the last third of the book despite the lack of momentum in the beginning. It was still an enjoyable read.
  • (4/5)
    This was a fast paced/easy read, and definitely a book I enjoyed. The Sherlock-iness of Jackaby was highly entertaining, and I loved Miss Rook's character - she wanted to be an adventurer in a time where women didn't have adventures and she made it happen! Great role model for sure! After reading/listening to some books with heavy subject matter, this was a somewhat lighter book for me...full of wonder with all the different creatures that Jackaby can see, the odd murders - I love a good "who done it" murder mystery - and the supernatural elements were very quirky and entertaining! I look forward to the rest of the series!#punkrocklibrarian #overdrive #audiobook
  • (2/5)
    I wish I liked this book. It has all the elements that would make me think I SHOULD like it.

    The audiobook just never captured my attention though. It was short and quick so I may one day reread it to see if I like it more. I can't explain my distaste. I just was never grabbed by it. I put it down easily and without much thought for such a short audiobook.

    I'm not totally against maybe trying the second book eventually but for now I'm sitting here sad I didn't love it more.
  • (4/5)
    This detective novel set in 1892 in a fictional city in New England openly acknowledges that it is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche in the opening pages. Even "Sherlock Holmes with fantastical and supernatural elements" has been done before, but Jackaby remains fresh and entertaining. The title character is an investigator who can see evidence of the paranormal. The story is narrated by Abigail Rook, a young woman seeking adventure who steps off the ship at New Fiddleham and quickly becomes Jackaby's assistant embroiled in solving a series of grisly murders. The narration wisely stays with Abigail as we see Jackaby slowly become a warmer character, but still retaining an air of mystery. The story has a lot of humor mixed with moments of horror, although nothing overly terrifying. It's a fun story and I will seek out other installments in the series.Favorite Passages:“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.”This makes them dreaded creatures, feared and hated by any who hear them, a treatment far disparate from the honor and appreciation they used to receive for their mourning services. Banshees themselves are not dangerous, though, just burdened with the task of expressing pain and loss.That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest ones always are.Happiness is bliss–but ignorance is anesthetic.
  • (2/5)
    Although well written I didn't not care for the actual storyline itself. The author did a great job keeping the suspense up and the story plugging on, but the events and characters were just 'off'. I couldn't help but picturing Johnny Depp as Jackaby himself.
  • (4/5)
    Book one in a terrific YA series that combines a Victorian sensibility and setting to a New England town rife with mysterious deaths, supernatural creatures and other unexplained mayhem. Luckily, paranormal private investigator R. F. Jackaby and his pragmatic new assistant, Miss Abigail Rook, are there to set things right. However, as Miss Rook so deftly observes, Mr. Jackaby himself is every bit as confounding as the mysteries they are trying to solve.
  • (3/5)
    I had to wait three months for Jackaby to be available through Overdrive - and there are five people in the queue after me - which suggests it is more popular than anything else I’ve been reading lately.When Abigail Rook arrives in New England in the winter of 1892 the only job she can find is as an assistant to Jackaby, a private detective whose specialty is “unexplained phenomena”. Soon after, she is following along to the scene of a murder.This is a solid historical urban fantasy murder mystery, interesting and unexpected. And although I enjoyed it, I found it very easy to put down. I suspect it would have grabbed me more if Abigail had grown more as a character throughout the story, or if the stakes had felt higher for her personally.I wouldn’t mind reading the sequels, but there are too many things on my to-read list that I’d prefer to read, so… *shrugs* “Jackaby,” I said before he disappeared down the passage, “thank you.” “Whatever should you have thanking me for?” “Well, for the lodging - and also for taking me on. Thanks.” “Don’t thank me. Just do your best not to die, would you? Oh, and one more thing, Miss Rook. Promise me, if you do become a pigeon or a hedgehog or something, you won’t get all stubborn about it [...]”
  • (4/5)
    A Young Adult book, historical fantasy set in 1890 features Abigail Rook, a young girl who doesn't follow the rigid gender roles. She wants adventure. Her desire finds her in the USA and she takes a job as assistant to the eccentric Jackaby, a paranormal investigator. The book is filled with folklore, mythology, religion and the supernatural along side a detective in the Sherlock Holmes style. Overall, a fun read, but simple and easy to figure out so not much of a mystery. But a book I would recommend to young people. Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee for Honor book (2015), The Magnolia Award Nominee for 9-12 (2016)Rating:3.625
  • (5/5)
    This book was a pure delight to read. Once I started it I didn't want to put it down. I enjoyed Jackaby and Ms. Rook. I also enjoyed the supporting characters. The supernatural elements and the detective aspects made for a enjoyable and fun read. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
  • (3/5)
    Before I read Jackaby, I saw it described it as "Doctor Who meets Sherlock." That was enough to convince me to read it. I'm a huge Doctor Who fan, and I totally pictured David Tennant as Jackaby the entire time I read the book. It felt very much like Doctor Who fan fiction but with different names. I don't mean any of that in a bad way, either.

    I always find myself being influenced by others' opinions of a book, and I really did enjoy Jackaby, so I'm writing a review before I read any others. I enjoyed the characters, the plot was intriguing, and I loved the inclusion of supernatural elements. I always enjoy books that make me want to go do research afterwards, and there are lots of mythical creatures to learn about now!

    I do want to point out that about halfway through the story, I already knew who the culprit was. I'm generally not good at solving mysteries, and so on, but this one was easy to figure out. It was a young adult novel, though, so I guess that makes sense.
  • (3/5)
    Before I read Jackaby, I saw it described it as "Doctor Who meets Sherlock." That was enough to convince me to read it. I'm a huge Doctor Who fan, and I totally pictured David Tennant as Jackaby the entire time I read the book. It felt very much like Doctor Who fan fiction but with different names. I don't mean any of that in a bad way, either.

    I always find myself being influenced by others' opinions of a book, and I really did enjoy Jackaby, so I'm writing a review before I read any others. I enjoyed the characters, the plot was intriguing, and I loved the inclusion of supernatural elements. I always enjoy books that make me want to go do research afterwards, and there are lots of mythical creatures to learn about now!

    I do want to point out that about halfway through the story, I already knew who the culprit was. I'm generally not good at solving mysteries, and so on, but this one was easy to figure out. It was a young adult novel, though, so I guess that makes sense.
  • (5/5)
    Move over Sherlock, there is a new detective in town and his name is Jackaby. Abigail Rook makes an excellent younger, less experienced side-kick/real world perspective character. With a dash of banshee, werewolf and redcap thrown in as well as a resident ghost and a duck with shall we say issues, Jackaby by William Ritter is quick, can't put down read!
  • (3/5)
    If you like Rick Yancey's Monstrumologist and Jonathan Stroud's Lock & Co. you'll like this book; which I do!
  • (5/5)
    Because I got lucky and got the second in the Jackaby series to review, I decided to read the first book in the series so that I have some background and reference for when I actually review the second book. *contains spoilers*Being a fan of Sherlock on PBS and detective stories in general, I was very pleased with this debut novel from the new writer. The character of R.F. Jackaby is very similar to that of our favorite (modern) detective, having interesting quirks like a crazy mismatched hat and very, very long scarf, speaking his mind, and eventually getting lost in deep thought. The general public thinks he's nuts, uncanny, and consider him uncouth. However, what I probably like the most is that the point of view is from not Jackaby, but his assistant (and eventual detective) Abigail Rook. The reader gets a look at what Jackaby is through her mind and opinions. She's a young woman who's only ever been told that it's not proper for a lady to do this or that. Yet she has a thirst and yearning for adventure and the undiscovered. So she did what every young woman would do: take her 1st semester's tuition and go on a dinosaur dig in Eastern Europe. While she braved the elements, dirt, and menswear, it wasn't enough. So because she has such a unique background herself (from that of any other traditional lady), I think her and Jackaby compliment each other. I like how the author makes his opinions blunt for Abigail, and more importantly - that it's not an issue of gender. Jackaby considers himself extraordinary, and then there's everyone else, no matter what you're sex, color, or the like. I also applaud the author for not making Jackaby the love interest of Abigail in this book. I feel that, especially in YA books, young women are expected to just have love interests and make up their minds about who they love if there is more than one. If the novel is meant to be a romance, then that's fine. But every YA novel doesn't need a young woman falling in love all the time. A girl can have a good adventure without falling in love, and again applaud the author for not falling into the trap. It made the story better overall. The plot itself twists and turns. Abigail's new adventure and process of getting acclimated in a new country is contrasted with the murder case and the suspense throughout. I didn't feel that there was a lull within the story; in fact, I was intrigued by the more fractioned bits of the story such as the omission of the chapter and the additional notes at the end of the novel. The tone was spot on - it wasn't too bleak or ridiculous. On William Ritter's author page, he describes his influences as Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and the reader can clearly see that influence throughout. Stories are weaved into more stories and the fantastical and real collide in such a beautiful way that it's almost like poetry. I would have thought that Abigail would have been screaming for half the novel, upon discovering that fairies, shapeshifters, goblins, and ghosts exist. The fact that she accepts it so easily only adds to her depth as a character. The atmosphere and general tone of the story is well rounded; I think an even match of sadness, intrigue, and discovery is incorporated to keep the reader captivated (I know I was). The fact that it took place in America during what most consider to be a Victorian-like age (late 1890s) gives the scene more moodiness and mystery. All in all, I have no complaints about the novel - except one. I wish that, when Abigail opens the parcel and discovers that Jackaby has given her the notebook that she so desperately wanted, she should have given him a hug. A hug speaks ten thousand times more than just "thank you". But then again, maybe because it's Jackaby, she knew better. As full disclosure, I not read this book but rather "read" it as an audiobook. I thought the young woman who did the reading, Nicola Barber, had a marvelous accent and I can't wait to hear her voice read the second book from the series.
  • (4/5)
    When Abigail Rook arrives in New England in 1892 seeking adventure, she immediately sets out to find employment. The job she finds is not what she expected, but exactly what she wanted. She is assistant to the detective R.F. Jackaby, a seer who can sense the supernatural and solve crimes committed in the human world by creatures most people can't even see.
  • (4/5)
    Favorite part of this novel: the oddball humor. Some of the off the cuff lines and jokes the author incorporates had me laughing out loud more than once. I mean, how our two main characters meet! LOL Jackaby mentions that it would be an impolite invasion of privacy to read her luggage labels, yet right after uttering those words he's picking lint right off her jacket and eating it!?!?! It's just off the wall encounters like that that set the tone for this novel. Yes, there's a murder/mystery going on, horrid death scenes, and a bunch of supernatural stuff happening, but it's the humor that strikes me as so unique.The story was fairly well told and plotted out. The murder/mystery stuff had me guessing for most of the book, though I had faint glimmers about the culprit was a few times throughout the book. I loved all the supernatural elements. The author presents them in such way that just makes them so normal and yet so unique. I mean, it's not too many books that can combine a late Victorian mystery with a troll living under a bridge, an island/pond combination in the attic, a former assistant turned into waterfowl, and pooping kobolds. And make all that into a coherent and engrossing storyline. The characters were pretty vivid. I especially enjoyed Abigail. She had pluck and courage to be dumped into the extremely odd world of Jackaby and the supernatural. She handles the strangeness with a straightforward approach to it all and a practicality and common sense that I really admired. Jackaby, on the other hand, I didn't enjoy as much. I was reminded of why I didn't like Sherlock Holmes that much; Jackaby reminds me much of him. He's a bit too confident, a bit too condescending, a bit too much of a "shut up and do what I tell you" kind of approach to mystery-solving. I'm sure that probably wasn't the author's intent, to make him such an ass munch. But that's how he came across to this reader.This is a very promising debut. The author is able to combine supernatural elements, humor, a good story, and good characters into a overall package that is very engrossing. And while I could have done without some of the characterization points of the main lead, it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment. I'd highly recommend this one to those who enjoy a good supernatural mystery now and then.Note: Book received via GoodReads FirstReads program for free in exchange for an honest review.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book. From the first line until the last, it was wonderful, whimsical, and exactly the kind of book that I love to read! Jackaby is a marvelous character, and Miss Abigail Rook is the perfect foil. Tired of her rigid 19th century life in which well bred British girls never seem to be allowed to go out and experience life. Abigail decides to take matters in her own hands. Without her parents knowledge she leaves her boarding school and sets out to find some adventure, eventually making her way to New England and, in her search for work, R.F. Jackaby, who is advertising for an assistant to help him in his detective work. A young Sherlock Holmes type with a sharp mind, an eye for detail, and a vast knowledge of the supernatural, Jackaby intrigues Abigail from the very start and she is quickly pulled along into an investigation of a series of gruesome murders that leave a strong sense of something inhuman as the perpetrator. A wailing banshee is their only clue to the next victim in a string of brutal killings that leave such odd clues, that even the cynical police detective in charge doesn't know what to make of them. What he does know is that he finds Jackaby strange, annoying, and too often right in his deductions. Aside from a wonderfully good supernatural mystery that kept me guessing until the very end, and then still surprised me, Ritter has created such a visual and delightful world. His description of the pond in Jackaby's house...the way it ripples and how the shadows on the ceiling create an atmosphere of serenity made me wish I too could dip my toes into the water and feed Douglas bits of bread while watching reflections of the ripples on the ceiling. The resident ghost who becomes a friend, the duck who no longer wants to be a man, preferring, it seems, to remaining a duck, and a frog that no one should stare at if they know what's good for them... it all combines to make a world so richly detailed and vibrant that I had no problem seeing it all inside my head. The writing is well paced and a good mixture of humour and pathos. The character are well drawn and a good match for each other, with Abigail being plucky and brave, and noticing the mundane details that help pull everything together. It all felt very well balanced and the historical setting and language made it all that much more enjoyable. Can't wait to start the sequel, which I just purchased yesterday!
  • (4/5)
    "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." Abigail Rook has always wanted adventure. Fresh off a failed attempt to infiltrate an archaeological dig, she finds herself in a town in New England, desperately searching for a job. She stumbles onto an advertisement seeking an assistant, and finds herself suddenly working for R.F. Jackaby, a seer who solves mysteries the police can't quite seem to figure out themselves.I have heard this book described as Sherlock Holmes meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I would say that is definitely accurate. The supernatural elements are expertly woven into the mystery, which lends a creepy and fascinating atmosphere to the book itself. The ending has a great twist, and no part of the book disappoints.I look forward to reading more books in this series!
  • (4/5)
    I adored this book. Yes, some parts were a bit childish or slow, but overall I really, really enjoyed it. It has a good story line, kept me interested, and I just loved Jackaby's character. This genre is right up my alley though so I figured I would like it. I would recommend this to preteens on up to adults. Well worth the quick read. 4.5 out of 5 stars. I will read it again, I'm sure.
  • (4/5)
    Jackaby is not exactly what I expected - it’s definitely on the young side of young adult - but it’s a fun, quick read that brought a smile to my face. Although the culprit and some of the plot twists are easy to guess, it’s still an entertaining adventure with intriguing characters. Jackaby has a few great Doctor Who-esque lines, and Abigail is a plucky heroine, even if her quick acceptance of the supernatural is a little unbelievable. Overall, this is a cute, light mystery sprinkled with silliness and humor. It’s such a quick read that I wasn’t quite ready for it be over. Thank goodness there’s a sequel!
  • (5/5)
    When Abigail Rook gets off the boat in New Fiddleham in 1892, her primary goal is to find a job. Through a strange set of circumstances she ends up as an assistant to the strange detective, R.F. Jackaby. While Jackaby's skills remind Abigail of some fictional detectives, his powers of perception encompass things much further outside the normal as he is capable of seeing the creatures that others relegate to legend and myth. When a body is found murdered, Jackaby's special detecting skills are required and Abigail is thrilled to finally be involved in a real adventure. But adventures are far more dangerous in real life than they are in books.I want to sing the praises of this book everywhere. First of all, look at that gorgeous cover. Appreciate its beauty. Then rejoice because the book inside lives up to that cover. With two fantastically well-drawn central characters in Abigail and Jackaby and a plot that pulls you along without ever feeling that it's breakneck, the book is enjoyable from beginning to end. While Jackaby obviously has hints of Sherlock Holmes about him, he is in no way a lesser version as his powers of perception lie in being able to see supernatural creatures invisible to all other human eyes. Abigail provides excellent first-person narrative as she follows Jackaby and very quickly asserts herself. This is a girl who will not take your 19th century misogyny. The plot of the novel is enjoyable with an excellent mystery and sparks of humour along the way. A fantastic read that I highly recommend to everyone who likes books.
  • (4/5)
    If you want a fun mystery with a supernatural element, this is the book for you!Abigail Rook seeks adventure. After hoping to unearth dinosaurs, Abigail discovers only dirt and mud. Because she stole her tuition money from her parents, Abigail feels she can’t return home but must find adventure. She takes a ship and ends up in New Fiddleham, New England. It’s 1892 and no one is hiring. She ends up at Jackaby’s place after seeing an advertisement; he seems amenable to a female assistant and takes her with him when he is called out to a murder investigation. Jackaby’s talent is to see what others don’t see, both metaphorically and literally. Something is definitely odd with this case and only Jackaby knows that the supernatural is involved.Abigail discovers that she truly enjoys adventure and solving mysteries. She wants to be a true detective with a notebook and magnifying glass to complete the picture. Jackaby sees these tools as unnecessary even though the police detectives have notebooks at the crime scene! After seeing the body, they meet a man with pillows over his ears. He can’t understand why the police won’t stop the noise. Jackaby gives him a tuning fork and leaves, saying he hears the cry of the banshee and will be dead by morning. Abigail wants to warn him, but Jackaby explains that once you hear the cry, one’s fate is sealed. They are kicked out; Jackaby sneaks back in to get clues. What ensues is the solving of the murders.I very much recommend this novel, as it is fun and has a great sense of humor!
  • (5/5)
    Good book...waiting for next one
  • (4/5)
    Oh my God. I had very low expectations for this book
    It was actually good. And I can't believe it's a standalone!!!!! I thought there'd be more books. Ugh.
  • (5/5)
    I loved Jackaby because it reminded me so much of BBC's Sherlock. It felt like I was watching another episode of that show.This book was filled with mystery, adventure, suspense, sarcasm, and humor. Jackaby himself was an indeed curious character. If I had to compare him with someone, I'd say he was a mix between Sherlock and the 11th Doctor from Doctor Who. Can you imagine that?He was incredibly smart, yet completely naive at the same time. He was so sure of himself that he would sometimes come off as snobby and stuck up. However Jackaby was always a step ahead. Which is why it makes his interactions with Abigail, his assistant (think, a Watson to Jackaby's Sherlock or a companion to the Doctor) all the more interesting.Abigail is not extraordinarily smart. She does not know that much of paranormal creatures. For all purposes, she's just like any other human. However she gives Jackaby something he didn't have before: "an insight into the human mind". She certainly holds her own as a character and really stands as a tremendously strong female. She may not be as smart as Jackaby, but she is street smart, she is cunning, and she is brave.The storyline is completely engrossing; the paranormal aspect is very well done and completely believable. The mystery and the whole "whodunnit" aspect was so good! I was turning the pages as fast as I could to find out the mystery.I loved the setting, too. I felt like I could've easily been walking around the streets with Jackaby and Abigail with how amazingly detailed the setting was.Overall, Jackaby was a very entertaining story with awesome characters, a gripping mystery, excellent writing, and an engrossing atmosphere. You definitely do not want to miss out on this one.