Book Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

‘Doctor Who meets Sherlock’ – that is how William Ritter’s debut novel Jackaby is marketed. With a gorgeous cover and legions of fans of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and the BBC’s Doctor Who, how could this novel not be a hit? Personally, I would call it a combination between Sherlock and Supernatural. The unexplainable phenomenon element is more fantastical than timey whimey. However, our main detective Mr. Jackaby does possess the arrogant intelligence of Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor (Doctor dependent) – keep reading though!

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At the beginning of the novel we meet Abigail Rook, only 19 and already disillusioned about her place in the world as a want-to-be adventurer in the late 1800s. Not willing to settle for the life of a common housewife, she leaves her home and family in England to seek out adventures in the new world. Abigail meets Mr. Jackaby (no idea his age) while inquiring about his assistantship posting and is thrown into his fast paced world of solving impossible crimes.

Science and magic, beauty and bedlam, things that ought to be at odds – they just don’t follow the same rules when Jackaby’s involved.

In the beginning I was turned off because while I am an avid fan of Sherlock, Doctor Who and Supernatural, I have little patience for asshole holier than thou because I’m smarter than thou bullshit – which does occasionally leave me irritated at the aforementioned shows. However after about a third of the way into the novel, we see some actual feelings from Jackaby as he describes the origins of a banshee and we get more information about his ability to see past the mundane. The supernatural element sets this novel apart from the above shows which I’m sure was Ritter’s intention. Jackaby’s alternating aloofness and superiority complex comes from the fact that while he may in fact be smarter, he is also incredibly alone. This isolation makes Jackaby endearing in the same way the Doctor is as the last Time Lord.

For a man who professes to be entirely rational and scientific, he can’t seem to steer clear of the impossible and magical.

The Case of the Silent Scream was intriguing but I am much more interested in the dynamics of Abigail and Jackaby’s friendship, not to mention the relationships with Jenny, Douglas (quack), and Charlie. I do hope Ritter has more adventures planned for this dynamic duo (and wtf Chapter 13??).

Ok – I just actually read my book jacket and Jackaby is totally the first in a series – yay!

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