Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review: Jackaby

Jackaby fought its way to the top of my to-read list due to its fantastic cover and the flurry of good reviews I'd been seeing for the book.  What I knew going in was that Jackaby follows a young woman in 1890's America, who becomes the assistant of an eccentric detective who specializes in supernatural phenomena.

The book's plot turned out to be a classic mystery, following Miss Abigail Rook and Mr. R. F. Jackaby's first case working together. (Abigail dubs it The Case of the Silent Scream.)  The story has the feel of a beginning of a series, and although I haven't seen any information yet that heralds a sequel to Jackaby, it would be a shame if Ritter's creation was halted just as it begins.

It would be a shame, because I feel that the book has quite a bit of unrealized potential.  I wanted to root for Jackaby and write a rave review, but ultimately I can only give it a golf clap and not a standing ovation.

I liked the characters, but didn't find them lovable.  I was entertained by the narration, but never laughed.  I was interested in the outcome of the mystery, but never felt suspense.  I was left wanting more than was delivered. In spite of this, I do think that William Ritter has written a successful first book.  He paced the story well, wrote a convincing female voice, and devised a classic mystery with an interesting twist.  I can see how his writing, developing with subsequent books, could become successful.  Ultimately, though, the story lacked a certain spark of genius.

That being said, if Ritter was to write a second book and make Jackaby the first of a series, I'd be interested in reading book two. Especially, I'd be intrigued to see how Ritter continues to expand his conceptual menagerie of folklore-based critters.  Jackaby mainly deals with magical creatures, and Ritter writes a combination of classic magical beasts and creatures of his own invention, much like J. K. Rowling.  In fact, while reading Jackaby, I thought of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them more than once.  (My favorite of Ritter's creations was a malevolent frog which emits horrible, pungent fumes when stared at.)

All in all, Jackaby was a very quick read — or listen, since I listened to the audiobook — and if the premise excites you and you like mysteries, I would not hesitate in recommending this book.

I'm learning how to draw with a graphics pad, and while I was listening to Jackaby, I drew this attempt of the protagonist.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say, the cover of that book looks absolutely gorgeous. It's also on my TBR list and I can't wait to try it! It's a shame you didn't love it as much as everyone else, but it's good that you managed to enjoy it.