When I heard that Jacoby was being hailed as Doctor Who meets Sherlock Holmes, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to resist reading it, so I was thrilled when I won it and its sequel, Beastly Bones, in a publisher giveaway. This historical paranormal detective series from Algonquin Young Readers is intended for ages 12 and up; however, it’s written in a way that I think is going to be appealing to adults of all ages too – score – and it’s unlike any paranormal detective series I’ve ever read.
Once I read it, I could easily see why Jacoby was a 2014 Fall Top 10 YA Indie Next List Pick. The emphasis is on the period’s authenticity and the paranormal aspects are more of a “but of course these creatures exist” thread…at least I think that’s how R.F. Jacoby would put it. This is a series you can enjoy right along with your kids and, in fact, they may have to tear it out of your hands. And one of you is going to win Book #1, Jacoby, and Book #2, Beastly Bones, so be sure to enter our giveaway!
“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.”
It’s 1892 and Abigail Rook, the daughter of a world-famous British anthropologist/paleontologist, has just landed in New England after a disastrous attempt to join an Eastern European dig against her parents’ wishes. Now she’s virtually penniless and stranded in New Fiddleham so job #1 has to be to find gainful employment.
$8 PER WEEK
MUST BE LITERATE AND POSSESS A
KEEN INTELLIGENT AND OPEN MIND
STRONG STOMACH PREFERRED
INQUIRE AT 926 AUGER LANE
DO NOT STARE AT THE FROG”
Abigail answers the above posted flyer, has a nasty encounter when she stares at the frog BTW, and then finds the ad was posted by a strange young man she met the previous night. Jacoby is considered the town eccentric and is supposedly a detective, but the town’s unsure about that last part even though they admit he sometimes helps people. To the organized and methodical Abigail, he seems not just scattered but almost delusional – but she really needs this job.
She soon discovers Jacoby’s not the one who’s delusional at all. In fact he’s blessed, or quite possibly cursed, to actually see all the things that go bump in the night – the things everyone else can’t or won’t see. In the best “turning lemons into lemonade” vein, he’s made it his life’s work to thoroughly research how to neutralize or at least escape such creatures, and to help those who encounter them without knowing it.
Soon Abigail is seeing a few creatures too, like the beautiful but temperamental and potentially vengeful ghost who lives in Jacoby’s house. And then there’s the real (well, kinda) duck who lives on the pond in the attic (don’t ask); a duck who was Jacoby’s last human assistant until he ran afoul (no pun intended) of a nasty, vengeful creature. And they’re the good guys. The bad guys, er, creatures – well, let’s just say they’re really, really bad and they love it when humans can’t see them until it’s too late.
In case it hasn’t been clear, Jacoby’s detecting is only for human clients who’ve become much the worse for run-ins with paranormal creatures they didn’t even know existed. How can you fight something you’re blind to? That means Abigail is not just going to organize Jacoby’s quite disorganized life but she’s going to have to get good at detecting these creatures too if she doesn’t want to end up a duck or much worse – at least the duck’s still alive. It also means she’s in for adventures that will make paleontology digs pale in comparison (sorry – my pun-o-meter seems to be running a bit high today).
And talk about being thrown into the deep creature-infested water (I know, I know), the first case Abigail is going to work with Jacoby on is finding a serial killer. You’d think this would be a job for the local police but even police detective Charlie Cane (who’s caught Abigail’s eye) doesn’t suspect this kind of killer exists…
Things really heat up in Book #2, Beastly Bones. You know it’s bad when even adorable little kittens aren’t what they seem. Seriously, how could little kittens be paranormal? Can you say shapeshifters – very hungry, vicious shapeshifters? This sequel takes our investigative team to a nearby town where dinosaur bones are missing. Nothing could make Abigail happier than getting to go to a paleontology dig site, at least until she gets there and things begin to go very, very wrong. Hunting for a thief with Jacoby and Charlie Cane is one thing but finding a murderer and believing a real, live monster may be on the loose is something else entirely. This one could be too much for even Jacoby to handle.
Abigail Rook and Jacoby are a perfect balance for each other. She is very reality based and loaded with down-to-earth common sense in addition to a considerable intellect that’s suffered from the way women were treated in the late 1800’s. Jacoby is brilliant but can seem scattered in his approach – he’s more of the absent-minded professor/detective type. That doesn’t mean he’s ineffective – he’s quite effective, and he needs someone to keep him a bit more tethered to the real world. In short, she’s Dr. Watson to his Sherlock Holmes. The resident ghost and prior assistant-turned duck add fun elements as well as make for valuable additions to the team, even if house bound. The less said about the frog, the better. You may have already figured out that the wonderful Charlie Cane is a quasi-love interest. He’s also a valuable asset on this duo’s cases for several reasons.
William Ritter began writing Jacoby while sleep deprived right after his son was born. In this case, sleep deprivation may have been the key that unlocked what I find to be an excellent paranormal detective series. I loved every minute of Jacoby and Beastly Bones, and I hope there are many more installments to come. These stories will appeal to all ages. I was serious when I said your kids will have to pry these out of your hands if they have a hope of reading them. I wholeheartedly recommend both novels!
Can’t wait to read these two books?
Jacoby was published on 9/16/2014 and Beastly Bones was published on 9/22/2015, so both are available from your favorite online bookseller below. If you download them as e-books, you can have them to read immediately!
I’d love to get your comments on Jacoby, Beastly Bones, Billy Coffey and/or his other work, and/or this review.
One lucky reader will win a finished trade paperback copy of Jacoby and an ARC (advance readers copy) of Beastly Bones by Billy Coffey!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 11/7/2015, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 13 years old to enter this giveaway.
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7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!
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