Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Thursday, April 2, 2015


by William Ritter
From the publisher:
"“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."

It is hard not to enjoy a supernatural-hunting Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC Sherlock Holmes), which is what the main character of Jackaby reminded me of. He and his Watson (Miss Abigail Rook) make a perfect pair of detectives. Jackaby notices things that nobody else can, and Abigail notices the ordinary things. This is a charming book with excitement, great characters, humor and a tiny hint of romance. By page two I was already hooked with the writing.

"A young woman across the dock pulled her winter coat tightly around herself and ducked her chin down as the crowd of sailors passed. Her shoulders might have shaken, just a little, but she kept to her path without letting the men’s boisterous laughter keep her from her course. In her I saw myself , a fellow lost girl, headstrong and headed anywhere but home."

There are several amazing quotes, I'll put in just a few of my favorites.

“That reminds me,” he said, pausing. “There’s a jar in my office marked ‘Bail.’ If you don’t hear from me by tonight, just bring it down to the Mason Street station, would you? I’m usually in the first or second cell . There’s a good girl. See you in a bit!”

“Jackaby hesitated, and when he spoke, his answer had a soft earnestness to it. “Hatun sees a different world than you or I, a far more frightening one, full of far more terrible dangers, and still she chooses to be the hero whom that world needs. She has saved this town and its people from countless monsters countless times. That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest battles always are.”

"I excused myself to go see a duck about a dress."

I loved the story of why Jackaby had the 2 pictures next to each other on his wall. One a picture of St. George slaying the dragon, the other of Manu and the fish. And then this quote:

“This world is full of dragon-slayers. What we need are a few more people who aren't too proud to listen to a few fish.”

Just writing this review makes me want to read  Jackaby again. As you can tell, humor is interspersed with wisdom throughout the book. Make time to read this one.

Areas of concern:
A handful of the *d* and *h* words.
Very violent, bloody (or weirdly non-bloody) murders are being investigated by the main characters.
Several tension filled (and sometimes life-threatening) situations for the main character who is a teenage girl.
Suggested Ages:
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 12+
School Library Journal - Grades 9+
*That suggested age must be due to the violence, but it didn't seem all that graphic to me.  However, it is about a serial killer, so definitely not for sensitive readers.*

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