Friday, October 3, 2014
Author: William Ritter
Info: Algonquin Young Readers, copyright 2014, 299 pages
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.
The jacket cover described the book as "Doctor Who meets Sherlock," which is all anyone needed to say to get me to read a book. I often times disagree with similar blurbs, but this one really kind of hit the nail on the head (did I use that right? I think I used that right...not great at idioms :) Top it off with a pretty intriguing cover and this book just screamed "EMILY, READ ME NOW!"
So I did, and I loved it. Abigail Rook is looking for adventure. As a child she longed for an opportunity to spend time with her father at one of his infamous archaeological digs, but a dig site was not a suitable setting for a proper young lady. So Abigail escapes the confines of her "station" and sets sail to explore the world and find her place in it. She never thought she'd end up in the employ of a rather peculiar paranormal detective, examining dead bodies and conversing with ghosts. Lucky for her she found the advertisement for an investigative assistant...unlucky that it sets her on a journey of almost certain doom.
Jackaby has the deductive capabilities of Sherlock Holmes and the zany personality of the Doctor. He talks fast, moves faster, and is impossible to hate. Abigail Rook, on the other hand, is sensible and resilient. Not much ruffles her feathers and despite the limitations of being a single woman in nineteenth century New England, she is fiercely independent and extremely witty. I like them both completely. And there's a duck...who was a man...who won't stop being a duck...it's a thing.
The paranormal elements are weaved in seamlessly and complete the atmosphere of the book without feeling overwhelming or forced. The same can be said of the detective elements, except that I would often forget they were in New England and not Victorian London.
If you like adventure and strong, interesting characters, this might just be the book for you. Or if you're a fan of British television, you might give it a whirl. Or if you just like fun. You should probably go ahead and just read it. Then come back and let me know what you thought :)