So my beautiful friend Mariesa over at 2 AM sent me this book for Christmas. What can I say? I was overjoyed. BOOKS.
I’m going to note before we start that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I really loved it. There were just things that I didn’t like and I happen to actually be able to form words about them for once. So don’t go getting the wrong impression when it comes to questions and comments.
- Author: William Ritter
- Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
- Year: 2014
- Shelved in: Teen Fiction
- Genre vibe: Historical fiction, alternate reality, paranormal
- At a glance: Hmm…Jackaby is Not Sherlock, but he is, and he can see ghouls and fae folk and the other world for what it really is. Miss Rook becomes his assistant by accident. Something is killing people, and Jackaby is certain it’s not a person. Adventure ensues.
The Good Stuff
Atmosphere! I’m not usually a huge fan of anything historical that doesn’t have to do with the 20’s, the Revolutionary period, or that has a major this-isn’t-historical-fiction-I-promise vibe, but I liked this. I think I actually ended up liking it because it felt so historical, when everything else was not. Which leads me to my favorite part:
The magic. Basically, from the vibe I got, if it’s a magical/supernatural creature of any kind, it exists, and Jackaby can see it. A lot of times systems like this can feel kind of cluttered with an over abundance of Magical Beings from too many different places. But not this time. The main focus was on a small enough amount, and there were just enough hints about others that I got a feel for the scope of it without being overwhelmed. And that was just really cool.
Also, my favorite thing ever exists in this book. My favorite thing ever is benevolent ghosts. There is one. Her name is Jenny. She’s my favorite character and I love her to death. (ha. ha ha. ha.)
Another thing I liked was the simplicity of it. It was, basically, an eccentric detective story. Which I…don’t really like. At least, not with the nostalgic feeling a lot of people do. But it was such a prominent aspect of the story, and it was done really well, and I enjoyed it well enough.
Questions, Comments, Concerns?
Question: It’s a series. Why?
No, no, I get it, I do, but…I’m not sure if I’ll continue reading or not. It was a lovely ending, promising adventures to come, and I might prefer to leave it that way. I like knowing that the adventures happened without having to…go on them, sometimes.
My comments mainly have to do with the writing. I think I skipped just about every single description in the entire book, because there were just so many of them for so long every time Miss Rook saw something of note. It was distracting and those always kind of hurt my brain because I see them and think “Oh, no, I have to force myself to picture something now. For more than a paragraph, too. Oh my.”
Not generally a great thing to think while you’re supposed to be asking questions that keep you reading.
Other than it was just a little less than exciting. Which is probably my “I really like poetic surreal prose” preference talking, but still. It wasn’t anything to praise. I like being able to praise writing style.
(Though I will say the dialogue was spot on, if a little too reminiscent of Doctor Who for me)
As for concerns…Miss Rook, I don’t even remember your name. I don’t remember where you came from, or your backstory. I remember your unnecessary and quite near-sighted comments about girls being just as good as boys, and I remember some of your more clever quips…and how you never, ever got emotional over anything Mr. Jackaby said to you except for when you both thought you were dying.
I don’t. I don’t remember her name. She was the picture of a character who tried too hard. Her feminist existence made me cringe a lot, and though I know we needed someone else’s eyes to see Jackaby through, I wish they weren’t hers. She was flat as the page she was written on and I think she’s probably the biggest reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much at face value as I could have without her.
I really didn’t like her. But at least, I think, it’s that I felt some emotion for her rather than not caring about her at all. If I have to ask a character “who are you?” then I have a really hard time reading. But if it’s “what are you doing here?” things are a little more bearable.
And, in the end, I felt for Jackaby. I really did.
- Rating: 3/5 stars
- Recommended to: Fans of a good old eccentric detective story, fans of a really neat magic system
- Lasting impression: And oh how sad his eyes must look sometimes. How much he must have to hide.