Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Length: 304 pages
The highly anticipated follow-up to the “rich world” of the “lighthearted and assured debut,” featuring an “irresistible character” whose first thrilling and original adventure “demands sequels.”
“I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.”
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.
Protagonist: Abigail Rook has already helped her employer R.F. Jackaby catch one paranormal murderer, but their next case will prove to be infinitely more puzzling. In this installment Abigail's background really gets to shine. Like my other forays into this world I loved Abigail's character. She's sharp witted and over the course of this book, really comes into her own as an investigator, or well technically she's an investigative assistant but that's really just semantics. Abigail's development in this book comes from the seeming struggle between her professional life and her possible romance with a certain supernatural officer of the law.
Romance: Much like the previous book in this series, there isn't all that much romance in this book, or really there isn't all that much active romance in this book. I love how the romance in this series is spread out and doesn't move too fast. It really speaks to the era that these characters live in, and of course for me, who isn't a fan of unrealistic and fast paces romances in a series, I really enjoyed it. I have to say again how happy I am that this author isn't putting even the smallest amount of romantic tension between Jackaby and Abigail, genuine platonic friendships between male and female characters are so hard to find these days.
World-Building: Picking up right where the last book left off, Jackaby and Abigail are thrown into another case. As I said before this case is infinitely more puzzling. What I loved about it was that over the course of the case we're introduced to a large cast of new characters. We meet a friend of Jackaby's who hunts unusual creatures, a pair of bickering (and somewhat annoying) Paleontologists, a bright ambitious female new reporter, and a character who may have certain Sherlockian influences. With the new characters, comes some returning faces, I think all my favorite (surviving) characters from the first book have come back in some capacity in this new case. I love how this world keeps expanding and I'm excited to see what comes next.
Predictability: As I will repeat for the third time, this case is harder to work through than the last, and I wasn't even able to predict exactly who was responsible for the previous case until the reveal either. There is a subtle trail of breadcrumbs leading to the big reveal, and while in hindsight the solution was fairly simple, it seemed much more complicated at the time. There is a sub-mystery like the previous book with Charlie's secret, this one though was extremely easy to guess but the reality of it was still awesome.
Ending: Unlike the previous book there isn't much of a drown out ending after the final climax. Instead it goes much like you may expect a book to go, a fantastic and semi-death defying final climactic battle, followed by a chapter or two of wrap-up. I'll admit, I kind of knew how this book was going to end, I went to see William Ritter here in Portland where he divulged what the next mystery will be about, making me crave the third book before I even read this one. The very end is a fantastic cliffhanger that will probably torture me up until the moment I get the chance to read the third book in the magnificent series.
I didn't even need to start writing this review before I knew it was going to be five stars. I'm addicted to these mysteries and this world. I'm also kicking myself for waiting this long to even start this series!
INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY ALERT!: I'm giving away TWO SIGNED copies (One ARC and One Finished Copy) of Jackaby, the first book in this series, if you want to win be sure to enter here. (Giveaway is below the review! Good Luck!)