By William Ritter
Published by Algonquin Young Readers
This series is marketed to teens, ages 12 and up.
I was thrilled when I received a signed copy of Jackaby from a Book Riot giveaway, and it didn’t let me down. I found it charming and humorous, and I think there’s an opportunity for some great character development as the series continues. As far as the mystery goes, it’s a pretty good one, but for me the mystery took a back seat to the characters. I just love quirky characters, and I got to know some of those quirks without being too concerned with solving the mystery.
Here’s what we have so far; the first book in the series is titled “Jackaby”, currently available in all formats. Also currently available is “The Map: A Jackaby Story”, a novella that was released as a free ebook, which holds us over until the new book, “Beastly Bones” is released in September. However, and I found this really interesting, you can also download the first seven chapters of “Beastly Bones” for free as a sneak peek. It looks to be much more than the typical sample size that you get when you download a sample from Amazon, or any of the other popular ebook formats.
This post will focus on “Jackaby”and “The Map”, which I found so wonderful, that I decided that I’m not going to read the sneak peak. I prefer to be fully surprised when “Beastly Bones” is released.
Billed as Sherlock meets Doctor Who, I have to admit I was really curious about this one. I’m a huge fan of anything Sherlocky, but admittedly just a fair weather fan of Dr. Who. Taking place in the fictional town of New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, the book is narrated by Abigail Rook. Abigail has just arrived in America after working on an archeological dig in the Carpathian Mountains. That immediately told me that Abigail was not going to be a typical female of that time, and that I could expect someone that was independent and adventurous. I liked her narration right off the bat.
Without much money, Abigail begins to look for lodgings, and possible employment playing the piano at a local tavern. It’s there that she meets a strange man, who seems to know an awful lot about where she’s been. Later, that chance encounter turns out to be very fortuitous as she learns that the man, R. F. Jackaby, is looking for an assistant.
Jackaby is a private investigator of sorts, and is at first reluctant to hire Abigail as his assistant. It isn’t until he realizes that she has a gift for being extraordinarily observant that he decides she’s exactly the right person for the job. And it’s a good thing too, as they become embroiled in a case of murder on her first day on the job. But this is no ordinary case, and Jackaby is convinced that the serial killer is not human!
Oh, did I forget to mention that Jackaby has the ability to see supernatural beings? Surprise!
This book is delightful, and I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to “Beastly Bones” in September.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at “The Map: A Jackaby Story”.
This novella is more of an adventure than a mystery, and I just loved it. Once again narrated by Abigail Rook, it begins with Jackaby attempting to cook a birthday breakfast for Abigail – much to her dismay. She is determined not to celebrate her birthday. Undaunted, Jackaby forgoes the breakfast and declares that they’re going to the market. But Abigail is in for a huge surprise when, through the magic of popping a party cracker, they are transported to the Zandermacht Market. Reminiscent of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, the market is filled with unique creatures and shops. It’s in one of these shops that Abigail finds a treasure map. When Jackaby asks what she’s found, she tells him it’s nothing and put’s it back where she found it.
But again, Jacakby is not to give up so easily. Unbeknownst to Abigail, Jackaby purchases the map for her, and the adventure begins. The story is filled with goblins, a castle, a cave, a remote island, and don’t even get me started on the giant vegetables.
“The Map” is filled with so much fun and wit, and again I have to say that it’s just a delight. This is the perfect middle story between the first book, and the now highly anticipated “Beastly Bones”. The relationship between Abigail and Jackaby grows stronger and I just love the interaction between them. I really hope this series goes on for a long time.
Check out the description for Beastly Bones, and hats off to Algonquin, you can even download Abigail’s journal – Algonquin Young Readers – Beastly Bones
Please give Jackaby a try, and if you do, leave a comment below. I’d love to know what you think.