Jackaby by William Ritter {Book Review}

This series came up when I was searching for books that fit Fall, and fell under the mystery category. Combining the paranormal world with that of a Sherlock Holmes one this book gave me some great vibes going in, and I was curious to be sure.


Jackaby follows Abigail Rook as she sets foot in New Fiddleham, New England ready to make a life for herself. The only problem? She’s a young lady in 1892 without money, connections, or a place to stay. Stuck in a new country, but determined to stay she sets out to find a job and meets a R.F.Jackaby, the town’s resident detective, and possible looney. Not one to judge she becomes his assistant right as a serial killer makes their first kill in the town, setting the two on an investigation that isn’t like any other.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I went into this book thinking ‘oooh a Sherlock Holmes type series!’, and quickly realized this was going to be a bit different. This book at the beginning gave me a lot of uncertainty, first with the first person pov (these are always hit or miss for me), and then with the lightness to it. I’m happy to say that this book proved me wrong in those initial thoughts, but will be honest to say if you’re looking for something dark and heavy this one will not be what you want to read. For a mystery involving a murder this series has a lighter tone than similar series like Stalking Jack the Ripper (Kerri Maniscalco), at least in the beginning of the book. It does gradually get darker, but still doesn’t quite set a fearful tone for the reader. Maybe it’s the magical aspects of the world, but the danger tends to not feel imminent, and the unknown magic of the world also make it harder to track the clues related to the murder.

Getting through the lighter mystery part of the story I did slowly start to get attached to the characters, and the otherworldliness that surrounds Jackaby. I’d actually say the characters are probably the big selling point on picking up this series as the two make a great team piecing together clues both standard and magical. Even as we are following Abigail we are learning about both her and Jackaby as the story unfolds, and the danger grows. The only issue I had in the beginning character wise was Abigail being the typical ‘not like other girls’ trope. Her going against all of society’s norms had me rolling my eyes since so many YA Historical fiction novels like to do this, and pretend that it would have been easily accepted. I’m not saying she should love dresses, corsets, etc. but at least treat certain parts of fashion as the norm since that’s what it was. I still love movies today freaking out about corsets and how painful they were when all the fashion historians have said otherwise, it makes no sense to me.

Beyond the few cons I listed, this book was really enjoyable, and I think the characters definitely have me interested in picking up the rest of the series. This isn’t the dark mystery I had originally pegged it as, but the quirkiness and magic are a decent trade-off in the end. Have you read the Jackaby series? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

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