This is one of those books that has been on my radar for a while. Thanks to my new system of deciding what book to read next – the random number generator lottery method – I finally got my hands on it! Stephanie reviewed this book all the way back when it was published in 2014, and it’s been on the TBR ever since!!
Our heroine, and narrator, is Abigail Rook, an intelligent and no-nonsense young woman, who, despite her inherent practicality, finds herself in a bit of a bind: she’s landed in a small New England town in 1892 with no real means of supporting herself. Having run away from home, Abigail is reluctant to return to her parents (especially since her initial runaway adventure was a complete failure), and is determined to find a job of some sort.
She answers an advertisement: “Investigative Services – Assistant Wanted – $8 per Week – Must be literate and possess a keen intellect and open mind – Strong stomach preferred – Inquire at 926 Augur Lane – Do not stare at the frog.”
Now, personally, I’m not sure Abigail was really the right person for the job, since she immediately stares at the frog, but despite starting out by disobeying instructions, she soon finds herself probationally employed by Mr. R.F. Jackaby. Jackaby possess a unique ability – he can see what other people cannot: namely, the paranormal. Fairy creatures of all kinds are powerless to disguise themselves from Jackaby. But what Jackaby doesn’t possess? Very much common sense.
Jackaby and Abigail make a great team, and I loved the complete lack of romance between them. While Abigail does harbor some warmer feelings for another character we meet, the romance is not an integral part of the story, and it really felt more like it was background for a future book. The mystery was paced well, and the story was overall just a great deal of fun.
I’ve heard Jackaby described as a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who, but I think he is definitely more Who than Holmes. Honestly, a lot of this book read like Doctor Who fanfiction to me… replace Abigail Rook with Rose Tyler, and there you are. But that wasn’t a bad thing. The story was a great romp, with plenty of fun dialogue and characters.
This wasn’t really a book of great depth or intrigue, but it was engaging and entertaining, and I’m excited to read the second book, which happens to be next on the pile…