“Monsters are easy, Miss Rook. They’re monsters. But a monster in a suit? That’s basically just a wicked man, and a wicked man is a more dangerous thing by far.”
Meet Miss Abigail Rook; fresh off the boat from England to New England. She’s spunky with a lot of reserved sass and doesn’t take well to the roles women are supposed to settle for. She wants adventure and found it in an ad for an assistant with Jackaby. Abigail is the narrator for the story, writing down the happenings just as Watson had for Sherlock. She doesn’t know what to think of her new employer, but I think at first she mostly keeps following him around because everyone tells her it’s “unfit” or “unladylike” for her to hang around the likes of Jackaby. Call it a silent rebellion.
Jackaby is an investigator who overlooks the mundane but has the power to see the supernatural. He isn’t a brooding, anti-social Sherlockian detective like the original detective, but he is still rather rude in a doesn’t-really-mean-what-he-says way. Jackaby instead is shunned by normal people because of his rantings about the paranormal world.
The book is described as Doctor Who meets Sherlock. If I were to agree with the comparison, I would have to say Abigail meets the criteria for Sherlock while Jackaby plays more into the Doctor category instead of having a Sherlock/Watson relationship. Jackaby is weird and eccentric, but also seems to know how to command attention and has a sense of humor. Abigail is the character that fits better into the social outcast mold with her utter defiance of traditions of the times and he snark remarks to anyone who tries to “put her in her place”.
I’m really looking forward to seeing the secondary characters again and learning more about them. A very stubborn duck named Douglas (who is a duck, but not a real duck), a ghost, and a crazy lady who only seems to only be crazy half the time have stuck with me and I hope they all have roles in the next book.
As for the story and mystery itself; it’s full of paranormal creatures! The mystery that used to be “who did it?, how did they do it?, why did they do it?” has an extra “what is it?” thrown into the loop. Figuring out the “who, how, and why” was pretty simple past a certain point in the story (with a few healthy doubts thrown in), but it bugged me racking my brain through years of fairytales and mythology studies tying to piece together the clues to answer the “what”.
Overall, I recommend this to anyone who is interested in paranormal mysteries or retold Sherlockian stories. Jackaby has just the right amount of mystery and paranormal to appeal to both readers. I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series!