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 the foul deeds are the work of the kind of creature whose very existence the local authorities–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–seem adamant to deny.
This is a very fun story, reminiscent of a Doctor Who adventure in humour and characterization.
The story is told through the eyes of Abigail Rook, who ran away from her home in England to hunt dinosaurs (fossils), but after a few unsuccessful months in Eastern Europe takes the boat to cross the pond… to New Fiddleham. She is a very likeable protagonist. She is just the right level of kick-ass and intelligence to be a strong female character, and also be totally relatable. Looking for a job she ends up on the doorstep of Jackaby. He is just… well… Mad Hatter mixed with the Doctor with some added Sherlock. He is totally odd but in an almost endearing way. He has a unsatiable source of curiosity, is charming in his own eccentric way and is just a great character to read about.
That reminds me,” he said, pausing. “There’s a jar in my office marked ‘Bail.’ If you don’t hear from me by tonight, just bring it down to the Mason street Station, would you? I’m usually in the first or second cell.
The humour in this book, together with its pixies, goblins and banshees is what makes this book so enjoyable. Don’t pick it up expecting a great detective story. The mystery is incredibly predictable and who did it was glaringly obvious from the first step the culprit did into the story.
I excused myself to go see a duck about a dress.
I had a few more issues with this book. For one, the world was a bit flat to me. Although the paranormal aspects of the setting were definitely intriguing and a joy to read about, the real world was a bit underdeveloped. I love books set in the 19th century, but one hardly notices the time period.
Another issue I had was with the ending… it was quite long. After the murderer has been dealt with, we still have to read through 50 pages of what was essentially epilogue. At least everything gets wrapped up nicely I guess.
“She sees a different world than you or I, a far more frightening one, full of far more terrible dangers, and still she chooses to be the hero whom that world needs. She has saved this town and its people from countless monsters countless times. That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest battles always are.”
This was a very fun read and a great setup to a series I will sure be continuing.