Tuesday, December 9, 2014

YA Pick: Jackaby

by William Ritter
Algonquin Young Readers
299 pages
ISBN: 9871616203535

Remarkably novel, sincerely charming, and full of cheeky dialog, Jackaby is written  by an American debut novelist. William Ritter pulls off this trick by inventing an enigmatic character who harkens back to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes with a bit of Doctor Who and a bit of Grimm thrown in.

R.F. Jackaby is a young detective who is interested and specializes in "unexplained phenomena." In 1892, Miss Abigail Rook leaves port in Europe and sails to America. She is running from a life of boredom as an English housewife and running from her parents who want her to be a good girl and settle down. Abigail arrives with little money and must look for a job and a place to stay immediately. Lucky for her, Jackaby is looking for an assistant to help him pay bills, keep his correspondence, and be a sounding board during cases.

Their first case together is a bloody one. They sneak their way past the police and onto a crime scene where a man has been attacked and killed. Jackaby's keen eye and intellect spot things others miss. Abigail picks up clues as well. Together, they make a great team. Abigail's placement as a "partner" allows Jackaby to explain details of each scene and what they mean.

Soon, other murders occur and the two realize the killer may be someone close to them. Strange characters and happenings occur and only Jackaby can explain the various fairies, goblins, gremlins and beasts.

The mystery unfolds like an intricate origami masterpiece. One fold at a time. One book will not quench the reader's thirst for Jackaby. I want more! Much, much more Jackaby!  Jackaby is such a puzzle, such an enigma, such a riddle that readers will want to discover what makes him tick.

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. No profanity, no sex, gore and blood only. This book gets my #1 pick of the 2014 year! I'm sure it will take top honors from many publications and ALA and YALSA.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)