Jackaby (Jackaby, #1) by William Ritter

Received from NetGalley for review. 

’I have ceased concerning myself with how things look to others, Abigail Rook. I suggest you do the same. In my experience, others are generally wrong.’

Jackaby is nothing short of incredible, a delicious masterpiece that I devoured at every opportunity. It is set in 1892 in New England and follows Abigail Rook, a tearaway young woman who took her tuition money and ran off to hunt dinosaurs and have an adventure. By complete chance she meets R. F. Jackaby, a very eccentric Sherlock-esque detective and seer, for whom she becomes an investigative assistant. She ends up assisting Jackaby with a very strange murder and soon realises that nothing is as it seems, what we believe to be true and real is not, not even Charlie, the junior detective they meet at the crime scene.

I wanted to get my hands on this book the minute I stumbled across it and I was thrilled when NetGalley gave me the opportunity to read it. William Ritter has created a fantastic debut, full of fantasy, adventure and mystery, and I knew from the first line that I would love this book. The opening is brilliant – I was immediately intrigued and at no point did I become disinterested or disappointed. The story and characters are excellently crafted; fantasy and folklore are seamlessly weaved into the book and it is truly magical to read about, the plot is fast paced and keeps you guessing and wanting more, and there is the most amazing plot twist that I didn’t see coming a mile off.

Abigail, Jackaby and Charlie are some of the best characters I have ever read. Abigail runs away from her parents, who want her to become a prim and proper housewife and mother, to seek adventure wherever she can, and circumstance brings her across the sea to New England. She is a superbly written character, strong, smart and brave, and I loved her. She is exactly the kind of young woman I want to read about, one who has her feet firmly on the ground while still letting her head and heart wander into the clouds. There is the barest hint of romance – a mutual attraction really – but it is a lovely little aside in the story, hardly noticeable, and Abigail is entirely her own person, not some by-product of a crush going straight to insta-love. Thank you, William Ritter! Jackaby is wonderfully bizarre, everything I want in a scatter brained but incredibly intelligent detective. There is a definite Sherlock Holmes vibe but it works really well and I love how his investigations are of the supernatural, it’s more like reading a fairy tale than a detective story. Charlie managed to become my favourite character, even though he isn’t in the story as much as Abigail and Jackaby. He is, quite simply, adorable – a wonderful, kind hearted and loyal young man, with one hell of a secret.

Jackaby is one of the best books I have read this year. The writing is absolutely beautiful, the characters are fantastic and the story is magical. I hope that there will be many more novels in the future from Ritter, who is nothing short of a story telling genius if Jackaby is anything to go by.

Read: July 10th-13th 2014

5/5 stars

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