My Haunted Library

All things spooky. Your source for paranormal and supernatural book and movie reviews, strangeography, Halloween crafts and a little cozy fall baking.


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Review: Jackaby

Jackaby – William Ritter, 2014.

Since she was little, Abigail Rook has longed for the kinds of adventures that thrilled her in stories. Jealously following the exploits of her daring archeologist father, she determines to discover excitement by hook or by crook.

After absconding with her tuition money and ending up in New England, she takes a position as an investigative assistant to the peculiar Mr. R.F. Jackaby. In Jackaby’s employ, Abigail finds everything she’s looking for and then some.

Jackaby is a seer. Whether his ability is a blessing or a curse, he sees the extraordinary creatures of legend and lore that coexist alongside us humans.

In his hideous hat (made from yeti wool), long scarf, and bulky brown coat stuffed with arcane bits and bobs, Jackaby is a kind of Dr. Who of folkloric beasties. Science and magic exist harmoniously in his world view.

He can see the domovoi (Russian house spirit) and Klambautermann (German kobold, helpful to fishermen) that have attached themselves to Abigail.  What Jackaby can’t see as clearly are the mundane details of everyday life, those noticed by regular people. That’s where Abigail is his perfect complement.

As Jackaby and Abigail investigate several mysterious and bloody murders, Abigail’s initial skepticism of Jackaby’s abilities – and his sanity – vanishes. Her world view expands to include both the marvelous…and the horrible.

Jackaby is a genre-bending joy to read. Ritter suffuses the narrative with a warm-hearted yet often dry sense of humor that just leaves you smiling. The wintry, small-town Victorian setting is a beautifully realized blend of mundane and magic.

Jackaby and Abigail and the supporting cast – including the supernatural beasties – feel very modern and human in their vulnerabilities and beliefs and hopes. This is a testament to some fine character building.

Jackaby (book and character) is eccentric and clever and great fun. Anticipate a delightful afternoon’s read. I can’t wait to pick up the second volume in the series. And the third. And… You get my drift.

rating system four crows


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Review: First Grave on the Right

First Grave on the Right  Darynda Jones, 2011.

Charley Davidson lives up to her tough, sound-alike name.  She’s an ADD, smart-ass private investigator with a tender heart.  And the ability to see dead people.  And help them cross over.  Yep.  She’s a good-looking grim reaper minus the cowl and scythe.  Dead people flock to her shininess and pass through her to the other side.

Charley has helped skyrocket her Uncle Bob’s police career with her inside intel from dead folks, but the rest of the force is a little skeptical – or creeped out – by her abilities. But Charley doesn’t mind: she’s used to keeping a barrier up between herself and…normal people.

When three attorneys are killed in the same night, they come to Charley to help solve their murders and draw Charley into a human trafficking investigation.  If that isn’t enough, a seriously hot entity has been steaming up her dreams – and soon moves into her reality.  This sexy visitor seems to be someone – or something – from Charley’s past.

First Grave on the Right is a fun read.  While the murder-mystery is not super-mysterious, and Charley’s savvy quips can wear a little thin, Jones’ characterization carries the story with good humor, enjoyable supporting characters, and some exciting action.  (Both kinds: police and romantic.)

A funny, spicy, light mystery with an interesting take on the paranormal PI motif.