by R William Ritter
Publishers Weekly Toss together an alternate 19th-century New England city, a strong tradition of Sherlockian pastiche, and one seriously ugly hat, and this lighthearted and assured debut emerges, all action and quirk. In the best Doyle tradition, the first-person narrator is pragmatic yet naive Abigail Rook, native of Britain and seeker of adventure. Thwarted in Ukraine, she catches ship for the U.S. and lands in New Fiddleham, penniless and with few employable skills. This matters not to R.F. Jackaby, the peculiar stranger with the awful hat, who is more interested in the kobold (household spirit) Abigail has unknowingly picked up on her travels. Jackaby is a detective in need of an unflappable assistant-literally, as his last one "is temporarily waterfowl." Abigail's keen eye for detail and complete ignorance of the paranormal make her observations invaluable to him, and she's soon caught up in the eccentric mayhem that is Jackaby's workaday world. Ritter is also capable of tenderness and pathos, as his description of a suffering banshee demonstrates, leaving room for development in any future cases Abigail may chronicle. Ages 12-up. Agent: Lucy Carson, Friedrich Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Fans of Jonathan Stroud's The Screaming StaircaseĆ(Disne-Hyperion, 2013) will appreciate Ritter's initial foray into the realm of supernatural. When Abigail Rook abandons university, and her parents' hopes, she arrives at the fictional New England town of New Fiddleham. There, she promptly meets R. F. Jackaby, a paranormal detective, and is flung into the investigation of a serial killer suspected of being nonhuman.ĆWhere Ritter excels is in the fast and furious plotline-events unfold rapidly while satisfying tastes for mystery and a small amount of gore. Unfortunately, so much attention is paid to the unfolding circumstances that the two main characters remain mysteries themselves. While readers know Abigail is fleeing the expectations society and her parents have placed on her, little is done to explain why. The protagonist is also a mystery-he just appears, as if a ghost himself, with much fanfare but scant backstory. Ultimately, however, avid lovers of fantasy will enjoy this quick read.-Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list In 1892, girls in their late teens from good English families don't wander the world, but Abigail Rook seeks adventure. She sails to New England and is hired on a trial basis by R. F. Jackaby, an investigator specializing in unexplained phenomena. Before long, she is deep in a murder investigation that includes a banshee, a shape-changer, and a malevolent goblin known as a red cap. Smooth writing and inventive but underutilized background touches (like Jackaby's pocket contents) characterize this supernatural riff on the typical Sherlockian murder mystery. Although the perpetrator is a red cap, a mythological creature whose life depends on keeping its hat soaked in fresh blood, the crime scenes are not garish, and occasional touches of humor lighten an otherwise earnest tone. For a lighter read-alike, try Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's Sorcery and Cecilia (2004); for a darker tone, perhaps Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart mysteries.--Welch, Cindy Copyright 2014 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.