Sunday, August 30, 2015

More Jackaby

I don't know if you remember when I read William Ritter's Jackaby, a fluffy bit of a novel about a supernatural investigator and his spunky narrator-sidekick.  Short version of that review; rough around the edges as a novel, but unbelievably charming.

Well, Jackaby's back, as is Abigail Rook and even Constable Charlie Barker in the sequel, Beastly Bones, and my thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.

It took me a while to read this one--I started it, and enjoyed it, but the structure of the narrative was a little odd, I though.  The first half of the book was a slow burn of buildup, and for what is essentially structured as a mystery/thriller, it takes a looooooong time to get to the mystery.  There's a lot of setup--establishing new characters, background mysteries and problems--that are going to pay off both later in the book and, clearly, in whatever book comes next.  And that's great, but you can't put off the real mystery until after you do all the exposition.  That's awkward structuring.

So I read about half of this book and then wandered away. But then I found myself drawn back to it recently, probably because the tone is just right for my mood--it's fun, and cute, and funny, and adventurous.  It's got a Doctor Who vibe, in that there are murders and big world-ending dangers, but it's still mostly a family show/really light book, with soppy romance and intrepid heroines and a brilliant but socially awkward detective.

"Please try to remain calm.  If you do not remain calm, we may all be devoured ina  horrifically violent manner by that very same medieval monster that consumed your cows...Are you calm?  Mr. Brisbee?"

"He's fainted," said Charlie.

"Well that's not helpful in the least."
This is like watching a show on the CW, but that's not a bad thing.  A CW period romp about the supernatural in 19th century New England?  Sign me up!

(An aside: I have a clear picture of Jackaby in my head, and I realized a few weeks ago that the guy I picture is actually a local actor I've seen in a few plays, Lewis Wheeler.  Charlie, on the other hand, is Constable Hugh Collins from Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.  I'm all about the mental casting.)

So: charm.  Oodles of charm.  There are things about the pacing and structure that I'd change, but the second half alone was a lightweight romp, and the teasing ending--mysterious mastermind, ghost Jenny's challenge--has me perfectly primed for the third one, which I will devour with all due haste.

And, also?  Looking this up to find links shows me that there's a Jackaby novella available free on Amazon right now.  Go forth and be charmed!

1 comment:

Lianna Williamson said...

I just read Jackaby a few weeks ago! I was charmed, despite the flaws. It's just like watching a Dr. Who episode set in 1890's New England-- that historically inaccurate, but also that fun.

I can only see Jackaby as Matt Smith.