About a year ago, I bought the first two books in the Jackaby series: Jackaby and Beastly Bones. And then they sat on my shelf. For months. Until, finally, I picked them up a month or two ago and read them. After which I immediately picked up the final two books in the series and read those, too. It’s been such a long time since I binge-read an entire series, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. Instead of a book review, I thought I’d discuss the entire series in this post, since I’ve read them all.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
Synopsis (of Book One)
(From Goodreads) 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.
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire Jackaby series. It’s a very character-driven series, with wonderful characters and a fun fantasy twist. It is reminiscent of Sherlock, but don’t go into this expecting Sherlock and Watson, because you might be disappointed. This is a story that is entirely it’s own, and I really enjoyed that. I tend to enjoy socially incompetent characters, and Jackaby fits the bill. I just have such a soft spot for him, and enjoyed reading about him so much. I also really liked Abby and Charlie and Jenny, who were more main than secondary characters. They each had an interesting backstory that ends up playing into the plot. And they all felt so alive, and I loved seeing them grow over the course of the series.
I also really enjoyed the magic system in this book. It was an amalgamation of a lot of mythologies and magical systems, but they worked well together. There were even a few magical creatures that were characters in and of themselves (including a cat-riding troll). I also laughed out loud at any scene that involved Jackaby’s frog, though I won’t spoil you as to why. I liked that the magic is what causes much of the conflict, but it’s also what makes this series so incredibly fun.
Each of the books in this series is great on their own. Each contains it’s own story arc, and feels like a complete story. The first book, Jackaby, definitely sucked me into the story and the world, and I feel like it was a great introduction to the rest of the series. The second book, Beastly Bones, feels a bit different than the rest of the series (it’s the Prisoner of Azkaban), but was still a really enjoyable read. It delves deeper into the characters and the world. The stakes are a bit higher than in the first book, but it was still fun. The third book, Ghostly Echoes, is where we really dive into the magic world (literally). It’s probably the least character-driven of the four books, but there is still plenty of conflict and drama. It also sets us up for the finale, The Dire King. I thought the ending was mostly satisfying, though I wish I’d gotten just a bit more of it; not enough for a second book, just something a little bit more solid. However, I liked how it played out, particularly in relation to the rest of the series, and I think it was a great conclusion.
★★★★☆ – I was going to separate out the ratings, but I ended up rating all four books four stars. I really enjoyed each of the books. If I had to pick a favorite, I think it’d be Ghostly Echoes, but only by a very small margin. I highly recommend this series – it was a fun, quick read that still had a lot of depth, and I really loved reading it.
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