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 being. 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.
When a book touts that it is Doctor Who meets Sherlock Holmes, I just can’t pass that up. Two of my favorite things combined? I have to at least read it so I can say whether that claim was founded or not right? Well Watson, let me relate to you my findings based upon the facts: This book had supernatural creatures, well, at least according to Jackaby himself, who seems to be the only one able to perceive these creatures; hence a lot of people think he’s bonkers. It has a companion-like narrator who introduces us to the strange Jackaby and his world of ghosts and goblins. It has hints of romance, vampires, werewolves, ducks that do the filing, and more. The fun thing about the character Jackaby is that he doesn’t care what others think, he has better things to worry about, and he’s totally oblivious to the fact that he’s looked at as insane. It’s very reminiscent of Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor. Once I made that connection I was having a blast. Before I made this connection I did not like Jackaby. It was weird and felt off-putting, but the second I pictured Matt Smith I was gung-ho and in for the long haul. As for comparing this to Sherlock Holmes, I was a little less enthused about that comparison. There were only two reasons I could see where they were coming from: It’s set in Victorian times, and there are mysteries to solve. I never could really picture Sherlock Holmes anywhere near this story though. Regardless, I still had such a ball reading this that I immediately searched out when the next book would come out (September 22). I admit that if I weren’t such a massive Doctor Who fan, I probably wouldn’t have liked this as much as I did, because I wouldn’t have gotten the pacing and humor as readily. It’s an acquired taste. But oh the fun I did have, and look forward to September!
I give it a 4 out of 5