Pick of the Week – May 18-24, 2015

Now that we’ve finished our several week run of Las Vegas Picks, we’re turning our attention to the printed word.  Despite that incredibly pompous-sounding introduction, my Pick of the Week, the 2014 novel Jackaby, written by William Ritter, is actually a lot of fun and a quick read.  I blew through its 300+ pages in a matter of hours. 

Jackaby tells the story of Abigail Rook, a young English woman who has just arrived in the small New England town of New Fiddleham in New England in 1892.  With no money or belongings to speak of, Rook needs to find a job and soon finds a potential position in the employ of R.F. Jackaby, if she can stick around long enough to earn the post.  Jackaby is a self-proclaimed investigator of the unusual, and soon Rook finds herself entering a world she never knew existed.

The Amazon.com page for the book describes Jackaby as “Doctor Who meets Sherlock,” which isn’t a bad description of the story (and, if I’m honest, it’s what got me to read the book in the first place).  Rook certainly would fit in nicely as one of the Doctor’s companions, and Jackaby himself shares characters with both the Time Lord and Mr. Holmes.  The latter similarity is actually addressed in the book.

I obliquely mentioned Jackaby in yesterday’s post about Young Adult novels.  Jackaby made the Kirkus Reviews list of Best Teen Books of 2014, which I suppose puts the novel in the YA category.  I’m not sure that I agree with the designation, though.  Yes, Abigail Rook is young, but she is on her own and has been for a while as of the start of the novel.  By the standards of the time period of the book, she is an adult.  Jackaby, both the book and the man, never treat her as anything less than that.

So why is this book, which I consider to be a supernatural mystery, classified as YA?  I have no idea.  Is the lack of sexual content?  Considering the fair graphic sexual content in Looking For Alaska, a book that is absolutely considered YA, I don’t think so.  And in the end, the classification doesn’t matter.  I read and enjoyed the book.  I’m now recommending it to you.  You just might like it no matter what your age.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter