Review: Jackaby by William Ritter


“The game’s afoot, Watson!” is not something you’ll hear from detective R.F. Jackaby. He is aware of his similarities to that fantastic inspector across the pond, but he is something else entirely. Rather, he can see something else entirely. 

When Abigail Rook ran away from her demanding high-society life in England, she never once expected to find herself assisting a supernatural detective. In a day her life turns from proposals and selecting tea services to murder-by-vampire and ghosts for housemates. 

Author William Ritter takes readers beyond the expected in this charming first installation to his Jackaby series. It is the delicious bate before a hook, line, and sinker that inevitably follow.


I have to admit, I rolled my eyes when this book was first suggested. Come on – supernatural Sherlock Holmes? How many more renditions of the same story are we going to write? This is twice in a very short period of time that my judgement has been too harsh, and my shame has been equal to the crime. 

The four books in the series (Jackaby, Beastly Bones, Ghostly Echoes, and The Dire King) are packed from cover to cover with humor, depth, and creativity. Ritter has created a world so solidly convincing, it existed before the series’ opening line and continues after the final epilogue. Jackaby and the following books of the series are marked by three shining qualities: 1) Narrated by a strong female lead (who, I should add, has a lovely slow burn romance which does not diminish her individuality and monster-chasing). 2) Representation of several groups rarely seen in Victorian era literature. 3) That right-hook though (no spoilers, but believe me – you’ll know when you’re there).

Over all, I give this series a four out of five. As a single novel, Jackaby is enchanting but doesn’t stand on its own. The conclusion of the fourth book, The Dire King, leaves readers wishing for just a bit more. However, Ritter has found the sweet spot: a series that exists in four parts with no loose ends or plot holes and no obvious need for expansion. The reader enjoys a comedic, high-stakes mystery series and the author is free to turn his pen to new (and equally entertaining) projects.


Maybe you’re reading this book on your own, or considering it for group work. Whatever the case, you can download a fun activity guide at the link below!

If you enjoy Jackaby as much as I did, check out these titles with similar themes:

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Happy Reading!
– Bekah

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