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Jackaby
2014
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Newly arrived in 1892 New England, Abigail Rook becomes assistant to R.F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with the ability to see supernatural beings, and she helps him delve into a case of serial murder which, Jackaby is convinced, is due toa nonhuman creature. - (Baker & Taylor)

Newly arrived in 1892 New England, Abigail Rook becomes assistant to R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with the ability to see supernatural beings, and she helps him delve into a case of serial murder which, Jackaby is convinced, is due to a nonhuman creature. - (Baker & Taylor)

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, featuring a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.
- (Workman Press.)

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2014

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job,Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in a debut novel, the first in a series, brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

“The rich world of this debut demands sequels.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

- (Workman Press.)

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Trade Reviews

Booklist Reviews

In 1892, girls in their late teens from good English families don't wander the world, but Abigail Rook seeks adventure. She sails to New England and is hired on a trial basis by R. F. Jackaby, an investigator specializing in unexplained phenomena. Before long, she is deep in a murder investigation that includes a banshee, a shape-changer, and a malevolent goblin known as a red cap. Smooth writing and inventive but underutilized background touches (like Jackaby's pocket contents) characterize this supernatural riff on the typical Sherlockian murder mystery. Although the perpetrator is a red cap, a mythological creature whose life depends on keeping its hat soaked in fresh blood, the crime scenes are not garish, and occasional touches of humor lighten an otherwise earnest tone. For a lighter read-alike, try Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's Sorcery and Cecilia (2004); for a darker tone, perhaps Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart mysteries. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

In 1892 New Fiddleham, America, newly arrived young Englishwoman Abigail Rook crosses paths with the remarkable Mr. R. F. Jackaby. Jackaby is a detective, but his perceptive observations are of the paranormal variety, and Abigail jumps at the chance to work for him. Ritter's debut is a riveting mash-up of mystery and folklore, with vivid details and striking turns of phrase.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Abandoning university for an archaeological dig in the Carpathian Mountains -- which then fails -- Abigail Rook finds herself aboard a ship bound for America. Landing in the town of New Fiddleham in 1892, the young Englishwoman immediately crosses paths with the remarkable Mr. R. F. Jackaby, who, with a glance, discerns where she's traveled from. "Let me guess, you smelled salt water on my coat, and I've got some peculiar shade of clay caked on my dress…?" Abigail asks, assuming he's a Sherlock Holmes wannabe. Jackaby is, in fact, a detective, but his perceptive observations are of the paranormal variety: he notices her clothing is home to a Ukrainian domovyk (a house spirit) and a German Klabautermann (a sprite that aids sailors). Since Jackaby's former assistant is unavailable (he's currently a duck), Abigail jumps at the chance to work for him. Right away, they're hot on the heels of a murderer -- in the process encountering a banshee, a shape-shifter, and a redcap goblin. Ritter's debut is a riveting mash-up of mystery and folklore, with vivid details and striking turns of phrase. And Jackaby is an irresistible character. As his (ghost) housemate says, "That's Jackaby in a nutshell. 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." tanya d. auge Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.

Kirkus Reviews

A Sherlock Holmes–style adventure featuring the egotistical and eccentric R.F. Jackaby and his bewildered but invaluable assistant, Abigail Rook. Inspired by her father’s paleontological expeditions and frustrated by her mother’s expectations of femininity, Abigail arrives in the New England city of New Fiddleham with a suitcase of inappropriate attire and a need for money. She finds employment with the oddball supernatural investigator Jackaby, whose previous assistants have met unfortunate or fowl ends (literally). Aiding Jackaby, flirting with the secretive Detective Charlie Cane, and trying to avoid the wrath of Chief Inspector Marlowe and Commissioner Swift, Abigail discovers that the world is stranger and more dangerous than she ever imagined. Although Abigail is not a seer like Jackaby, able to pierce the glamour of New Fiddleham’s fairy-tale and folklore inhabitants, she learns that to “see the ordinary is extraordinary indeed.” Abi gail’s attention to the everyday serves as a foil to Jackaby’s paranormal perception and makes her a refreshingly realistic and agreeable heroine. Secondary characters—including Jackaby’s house—are equally enchanting and well-drawn. Ritter’s debut skillfully blends science with the supernatural and balances whimsy with violence. The smartly paced plot wraps up neatly, but the rich world of this debut demands sequels. A magical mystery tour de force with a high body count and a list of unusual suspects. (Paranormal. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Toss together an alternate 19th-century New England city, a strong tradition of Sherlockian pastiche, and one seriously ugly hat, and this lighthearted and assured debut emerges, all action and quirk. In the best Doyle tradition, the first-person narrator is pragmatic yet naïve Abigail Rook, native of Britain and seeker of adventure. Thwarted in Ukraine, she catches ship for the U.S. and lands in New Fiddleham, penniless and with few employable skills. This matters not to R.F. Jackaby, the peculiar stranger with the awful hat, who is more interested in the kobold (household spirit) Abigail has unknowingly picked up on her travels. Jackaby is a detective in need of an unflappable assistant—literally, as his last one "is temporarily waterfowl." Abigail's keen eye for detail and complete ignorance of the paranormal make her observations invaluable to him, and she's soon caught up in the eccentric mayhem that is Jackaby's workaday world. Ritter is also capable of tenderness and pathos, as his description of a suffering banshee demonstrates, leaving room for development in any future cases Abigail may chronicle. Ages 12–up. Agent:Lucy Carson, Friedrich Agency. (Sept.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 9 Up—Fans of Jonathan Stroud's The Screaming Staircase (Disne-Hyperion, 2013) will appreciate Ritter's initial foray into the realm of supernatural. When Abigail Rook abandons university, and her parents' hopes, she arrives at the fictional New England town of New Fiddleham. There, she promptly meets R. F. Jackaby, a paranormal detective, and is flung into the investigation of a serial killer suspected of being nonhuman. Where Ritter excels is in the fast and furious plotline—events unfold rapidly while satisfying tastes for mystery and a small amount of gore. Unfortunately, so much attention is paid to the unfolding circumstances that the two main characters remain mysteries themselves. While readers know Abigail is fleeing the expectations society and her parents have placed on her, little is done to explain why. The protagonist is also a mystery—he just appears, as if a ghost himself, with much fanfare but scant backstory. Ultimately, however, avid lovers of fantasy will enjoy this quick read.—Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX

[Page 110]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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