This is funny, guys! And well-written! (At least to me it is.) We have R. F. Jackaby, an American Sherlock type who can see things that others can’t. Not just notice things others don’t, but things others physically cannot comprehend. There’s magic here, and Jackaby has a gift. And just like Sherlock, a lot of people thing Jackaby is crazy. Or on drugs. “All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with view behind the curtain.” (34)
Abigail Rook is newly arrived from Europe and almost forces herself into a job as Jackaby’s assistant. Abigail left home, ‘ran away’ may be a more proper way of saying it, in search of adventure instead of going to school. She notices things as well, only they’re the normal, everyday details that prove to be useful. For example, when wondering how many levels are in a building, Abigail informs Jackaby that there are four, due to the four rows of mailboxes on the ground floor and the corresponding apartment numbers.
At first, the reader (as well as the general populace) wonders at Jackaby’s sanity. (And his first name, but we never do discover that in the first book.) The mythical things he talks about are not visible or comprehensible to most people, and many could be passed off via rational means. Once we meet Jenny and Douglas, however, we realize that Jackaby is no more mad than Sherlock Holmes. He by no means operates in the real world, but he does know what he’s doing. “He’s quite mad, you know. But adventure can be very appealing.” (127)
Jackaby can be abrupt and awkward, but he has the best intentions. He can be a bit socially awkward and rude without realizing it, while being completely sincere. While he may try to hide it or brush it off, he can be very kind as well. He can also be very poetic.
“[She] 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 countess times. That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest battles always are.” (104)
As this is meant for younger readers, the plot is a bit obvious, at least to me. One thing that I do appreciate is that there appears to be no romantic notions between Abigail and Jackaby. When asked if she has feelings for Jackaby, Abigail quickly denies it and is surprised and confused at the question. So no cliche there! Not to say there won’t be any romance – Abigail has a bit of a crush on Charlie, a young police officer, who has plenty of problems of his own.