Jackaby | The Cover Was Entrancing, The Story Was Not

Title: Jackaby (Jackaby #1)

Author: William Ritter

Publication Date: September 14, 2014

Number of Pages: 299

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Supertanural, Mystery  

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 William Ritter’s debut novel, which features 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.


Potential abounds! Sherlock Holmes meets Doctor Who—nonstop action and dark mystery. There’s so much room for imagination!

No. Not in Jackaby, there isn’t.

I found the mystery featured in the book to be altogether drab. It had no flair or suspense, it was your typical unoriginal series of murders. It had none of the entrancing pizzazz the classic Sherlock Holmes novels feature.


The pacing was drab too. It took decades for one thing to happen. Then when something finally did happen, the protagonist would ponder and analyze it for decades more.
Hints of charm and wit throughout. You could see a trace of the lovely personality of the original Sherlock floating through the pages. Thank goodness! It would all be a flop if it weren’t for that.


Old-timey and fitting. It certainly matched the story with words like posh and bugger off and tea.
But was it that Jane Austen delicious sort of old? No. ‘Twas not. It was generic old-timey writing, the kind you find in every unoriginal historical fiction novel in the WORLD.

Let’s talk about our main character Abigail Rook for a minute. She wants to break free of the bindings society has on women. Great! Yay women empowerment! Except she is the same female protagonist you find in every generic historical fiction novel. Every. Single. One. Someone could put in some originality. Someone could write about a girl who likes dresses and also uses her intelligence, charm and wit to move up the ranks. Oh, wait, we couldn’t do that! That’s far too creative!

I didn’t sign up for this new Sherlock. You know what I love? A sleuth who uses sharp intelligence and clever deductive skills to solve crimes. You know what I don’t love? A detective who just sees the supernatural. Guess which one was featured in this book? Correct. Supernatural. How ever did you guess?

Jackaby’s personality was fun, though! He had all the cluelessness and droll comedy a Sherlcok requires.

Generic. Unoriginal. Lack of imagination, lack of creativity. 

Only hints of humor and wit save the book from my crucification of it.

But the cover is gorgeous look.

What generic books/characters drive you crazy?  

13 thoughts on “Jackaby | The Cover Was Entrancing, The Story Was Not

  1. The whole “Sherlock meets Doctor Who” tricked me into reading this book, and even though it was somewhat enjoyable and a quick read, it was also incredibly disappointing in that it did not at all live up to the Sherlock or Doctor Who-ness it claimed to have :/ Like you said, it lacked originality and creativity. BUT the cover is beautiful haha

  2. Yeah, it did!
    Me too, I’ve been reading really slow books lately, I’m about to go mad!
    I felt like if it stuck more to the original Sherlock Holmes novel I actually would’ve liked it more, the unoriginality rose from the mystery and writing and characters *sigh*
    Oh well!
    Thanks for commenting 🙂

  3. Such a shame! The cover and the blurb seemed so promising. Hope your next read isn’t so disappointing.

    I love this review! Your frustration with this book is rather funny–I couldn’t help but laugh while reading it. While I do love books that are unique, originality is not that big a deal for me only if the writer can pull it off properly. Great writers can make even the most used tropes feel good. I guess that wasn’t the case in Jackaby.

  4. Me too, me too. I think there’s definitely potential for the series, so I suppose you could give the first one a try and see if the second one is awesomeness.
    This one was just poorly executed to me 😦

  5. I’ve seen this book around but I can’t say I’ve ever been to interested in picking it up. Your review just solidified that for me! It does have a pretty cover though!!! Haha

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