Science and Magic

Jackaby Series by William Ritter

“Science and magic, beauty and bedlam, things that ought to be at odds—they just don’t follow the same rules when Jackaby’s involved.”

I have a friend at work who shares the same taste in books as I do, so when she recommends a series I usually add it to the top of my TBR list. So even though the first book was published in 2014, I have read all three books and the novella in the last few months. I have seen mixed reviews of these books, it appears to be one of those series that you either love or hate.  I happen to really enjoy the series because it has a lot of the elements that I look for in a good tale.  It has a detective that is a little like Sherlock Holmes, it has a plucky female narrator who has a great sense of humor, and a little bit of science mixed with a lot of magical creatures and events.  It also happens to fall under the genre of historical fantasy, which I usually find fascinating. So here is a little bit about each book.

Jackaby By William Ritter

JackabyFrom 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.

I instantly liked both Abigail and Jackaby.  Abigail reminds me of myself when I was her age, interested in science and always looking for adventure.  Jackaby is a little harder to like, but he has some endearing qualities as well.  I also liked that Abigail has no qualms with falling in love with Charlie, who is not fully human.  She judges people for who not what they are.

Beastly Bones By William Ritter

Ritter_BeastlyBones_jkt_COMP.inddFrom Goodreads: In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer R. F. Jackaby are called upon to investigate the supernatural.
First, a vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens, and a day later, their owner is found murdered with a single mysterious puncture wound. Then in nearby Gad’s Valley, now home to the exiled New Fiddleham police detective Charlie Cane, dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Charlie calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

The bones in this story, turn out to be dragon bones, which is something I would love to discover.  Although this second book’s story can stand alone, there are story threads and elements from the first book that continue on in this one.

Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter

ghostly echoesFrom Goodreads: Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

In this third book, we learn more about Jenny Cavanaugh’s murder.  Jenny was the previous owner of Jackaby’s house and continues to live there as a ghost.  Her murder is mixed up with some of the happenings in the previous books although she has been dead for 10 years.  This book incorporates more death mythology than the previous ones including Abigail venturing into Annwyn, the otherworld from Welsh mythology. This installment was more of a page turner than the other two.

The Map: A Jackaby Story By William Ritter

From Goodreads: Abigail hopes that her birthday will slip by unnoticed and uncelebrated, the mapbut her employer, detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby, has other plans. Using magical party crackers that teleport the pair to unknown destinations in time and space and a cryptic map that may lead to a forgotten treasure, Jackaby intends to give Abigail what he considers to be the best gift of all–adventure.

Abigail and Jackaby must tame an enormous (and carnivorous) rabbit, defend a castle, and master a dirigible if they want to find the treasure and get back to New Fiddleham alive.

This was a fun short story.  I really liked the way they got to their various destinations by using birthday crackers, you know the ones that when you pull the ends,give a small pop and small presents?  When Abigail pulls on the crackers they are transported to a new place. Great idea!

I just love the two main characters, Jackaby and Abigail. They have a great relationship even though they are employer and employee.  They also have some great repartee that is often very amusing.  It is interesting to note that each book has the 13th chapter omitted with a statement such as this in the 3rd book:

“The contents of Chapter Thirteen have been omitted by the request of my employer.”

It is obvious when you go on to Chapter 14 that something was omitted, as the time line seems to skip a little, but not enough that you feel like you missed something important.

There is at least one more book coming sometime in 2017.

The last book was reviewed from a copy received from

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