Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mini-Reviews: Jackaby & Rook

Title: Jackaby (Jackaby, #1) 

Author: William Ritter

Rating: DNF
“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”
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--deny. Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.
I nearly made it to the half-way point of Jackaby before admitting that I didn't know the contents of the last six chapters I had read and, really, should just give up. With such a captivating cover and compelling plot line, you'd think Jackaby would enchant me; hook, line, and sinker. Unfortunately, however, I found this novel to be just a tad too--dare I say it?--unoriginal. Ritter's concept of creating a character like Jackaby, a detective who could see the supernatural realm and used those skills to solve crime, is nothing short of brilliant. I've heard this be described as a cross between the two hit BBC shows, "Sherlock" and "Doctor Who", and as a fan of both, I have to admit it's an apt comparison.

However, I didn't much enjoy the narrative perspective this novel is told from. Abigail Rook, a young woman seeking employment, decides to become the assistant Jackaby needs in his work and though her voice is affable and perceptive, detailing the oddities that set Jackaby apart from every other human, it lacked emotion. Ultimately, I just didn't feel for Abigail or grow to know her intimately, as a character, despite the fact that it was she who narrated the tale. Although I found Jackaby to be fascinating and thought that many of the secondary characters introduced were charming, there was something a little too rote-like about the manner in which information was departed through this novel that left me unable to connect with the story line.

Whatever it is that didn't allow Jackaby to join my favorites shelf, I am the most sorry for it. I wanted to love this novel, desperately, and I am distinctly in the minority in my opinion of the characterization and prose. As such, I recommend that readers give this one a try for themselves. If you wind up liking it even a fraction more than I do by the half-way point, chances are, you're going to love this. I'll just waddle into my corner labeled "Black Sheep" now, shall I?

Title: Rook

Author: Sharon Cameron

Rating: 4 Stars
History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal? Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she. As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse. 
Oddly enough, I don't have much to say about Rook. I really enjoyed it--thoroughly, in fact--and though some readers argue that its length is its downfall, I can't admit to having found it a problem. The characters and world that Cameron builds is so wildly entertaining and imaginative that I simply didn't want to leave. I adored this enemies-to-lovers romance, the spying, the twists and turns, and, of course, the lady savior at the heart of it all. Rook is every bit as intriguing as its synopsis and cover promise and though I find Cameron's debut duet to be of stronger stock--simply more memorable, although perhaps because the characters stayed with us for two books opposed to one--this is an extremely well-written stand-alone. I look forward to Cameron's future endeavors very much; her brand of steampunk is unique and unparalleled.


  1. I'm so sorry you didn't like Jackaby! I plan on reading it soon, so.. *fingers crossed*

  2. I was looking forward to reading Jackaby; I'm sad it didn't work out for you. :/ but yay for Rook!

  3. I'm sorry you didn't like Jackaby! DNF are so frustrating.

  4. Thanks for sharing! Sorry you DNFed Jackaby. I have a copy that I need to read soon. I still think I'd really enjoy it.

  5. It's too bad about Jackaby. I was hoping for more. :( I'm now curious about Rook, however. I'm so adding this to my wishlist.

  6. I was hoping Jackaby would be a story that lived up to its gorgeous cover Keertana, so I'm a little bummed that wasn't the case for you. I think I'm going to leave it on my maybe shelf. So glad Rook was a winner though:)

  7. It sucks that Jackaby wasn't your cup of tea, Keertana :( I bought it a while back and have been dying to read it but I'll definitely try not to get my hopes up too high! And Rook! At least you liked one of them, right? Yet another one I've been eyeing for a while now.

    Lovely reviews, girl <33

  8. It's hard to fall for a story when you don't connect with the main characters. I totally understand why you would DNF Jackaby. Why waste your time?

    I love Rook's cover and now I'm more intrigued about the story. Duology you say? I'll have to check and see when the next book is scheduled for release.

    Great minis, Keertana! :)

  9. I pretty much had the same experience with Jackaby! Jackaby just didn't work out for me because while I did like it, I never fell in love with it the way I wanted to. This book was described to be a cross between Doctor Who and Sherlock and I don't think it ever lived up to the expectations that one would have from a book pitched as a cross of two brilliant shows.

    I also felt like the characterizations were a tad MEH.

    I AM SO GLAD TO SEE YOU LIKED ROOK THOUGH. Rook was a little slow at first but once things got into full swing, I really started loving the book! I definitely want to go check out Sharon's debut now (especially since you liked it even better)

    Lovely minis, Keertana!! :)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

  10. Aw, I'm sorry to hear that Jackaby fell short of your expectations for it, dear! It does sound like a fascinating concept, but execution is crucial to enjoying books, and if the execution doesn't work for you, then there's nothing you can really do. I kind of like Dr. Who, but I didn't quite enjoy Sherlock, so for now I'm holding off on giving this a try.
    I am so fascinating by all these retellings of The Scarlet Pimpernel. They all sound so good! I do want to try to read the original first, though, so I can better appreciate its retellings. :)

  11. I've been really torn about whether or not to pick up JACKABY, but since I trust your opinion a lot, I think I'll be staying away. Personally, I don't watch SHERLOCK or DOCTOR WHO, so it doesn't appeal to me the way it might to other readers who watch the shows. As for ROOK, I totally get what you mean; sometimes you love a book, but there's not much to say about it! I'm interested in picking up Cameron's books for sure. Thanks for the fabulous mini reviews, Keertana! <3

  12. I lost interest in Jackaby after reading some of the review, and it looks like I made the right choice. Such a shame that it ended up being something so derivative when on the outside it seemed so unique!

    I liked Rook, but didn't love. I'm one who found it waaaay too long. I could have done without at least 100 pages. But the romance is tons of fun and I did enjoy the setting.

    Great reviews!

  13. That's so funny--my responses to those two were almost opposite! I DNFed Rook and would give Jackaby 3 stars. I think Rook annoyed me because there wasn't enough worldbuilding and it seemed to rely on the reader's knowledge of Scarlet Pimpernel to fill in the blanks. *shrugs* :)

  14. Wonderful mini-reviews, Keertana. Sorry to hear about Jackaby, the cover is so beautiful though. As for the Rook, it’s on my tbr though I’m a bit intimidated by its lenghth.


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