Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Sherlock Holmes of the Paranormal



Jackaby
by William Ritter

It's 1892 and Abigail Rook has just arrived in new Fiddleham, New England.  Desperate and in need of work, Abigail rushes to fill the position of assistant to R.F. Jackaby.  Jackaby is a young investigator with a reputation for being eccentric and odd.   As soon as Abigail takes the position, she's pulled into a case involving a serial killer.  The police are looking for the ordinary.  Jackaby is searching for the extraordinary, a nonhuman creature. 

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I have re-written this review so many times.  Admittedly, I have been having some trouble putting into words my thoughts and feelings about this book.  To make it short and sweet, the novel is okay but I was disappointed.  

I'll start with the good because there were good things about this novel.   It had a lot of interesting elements like the lore and the creatures featured in the story. I think that had to be one of the most enjoyable parts of this novel for me. Jackaby's house was also a wonder. The levels, objects and rooms in his house were curious.  William Ritter's descriptions of this new world within the confines of a house on a regular street were a joy to read. 

Jackaby himself was an interesting character, but we never got to know much about his life beyond the work.  He's brilliant, blunt but also has the capacity to empathise with other individuals he meets.  For instance, he grew increasingly concerned for Abigail's safety the deeper they got into the case.  But he's still so much a mystery and I would have liked something more to get me hooked on his character.

The mystery also fell sort of flat.  There were moments that were intense and incredibly interesting but they seemed to fizzle out quite quickly.  The identity of the villain wasn't hard to figure out either. I was a little annoyed with how early on I was able to pinpoint who it was.  I also think this book could have done better with a darker atmosphere and build-up.  It's a supernatural detective novel that deals with threats to human lives and it just wasn't very scary.

And Abigail's crush on a certain character? It was so unnecessary and forced.  A friendship would have sufficed.  While we are on the topic of Abigail...I found her to be a bit annoying at times.  I hate to say this but I got frustrated with her more than once.

With all this you would expect me to have hated this novel but I didn't.  It was an okay book that had a lot of potential to be a better than it was.

A second novel is on its way.  It will be called Beastly Bones.  I have decided to check it out when it is released.  I'm not hooked on William Ritter's book, but I have a tenuous interest in the characters and seeing what happens to them.


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