Title: Jackaby (Jackaby #1)
Author: William Ritter
Published: 16th September 2014
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Summary: Newly arrived in 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.
I enjoyed this book enough but it wasn’t overly engaging or gripping. This story follows Jackaby, an eccentric man who sees things that others don’t, and Abigail, an inquisitive woman who’s recently moved to America, solving a murder mystery together. Now, I normally like a good murder mystery story but something about this one wasn’t all that impressive, as I didn’t find myself desperate to find out who the killer was. There were no shocking reveals or plot twists, it wasn’t complicated and the outcome was predictable.
Despite this, it was still an OK read, as I’m always a fan of quick-to-read short books. I thought Abigail was a great character, she was independent and curious, and her dynamic with Jackaby was one of my favourite things about this novel, although there wasn’t much depth to her.
There were many aspects of this book that were lacking. The characters were under-developed and I also would’ve liked to learn more about the fantasy elements of this book. This a book that’s been compared to Doctor Who and Sherlock and I actually read this whilst the new series of Sherlock was airing. And perhaps doing that was a bit of a mistake, because it had a lot to live up to. But, unfortunately, it didn’t really…
Title: As I Descended
Author: Robin Talley
Published: 6th September 2016
Rating: 4/5 stars
Summary: Maria and Lily are their school’s ultimate power couple. Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word. But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything to make their dreams come true. When feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.
This book was dark and creepy and wonderful. I had a lot of fun reading it and, if you’re looking for a great Shakespeare retelling, this is the one. Maria and Lily, the two main characters, make an intriguing couple and I would’ve loved to know more about their relationship, as the romance wasn’t really the main focus of this story. It instead focused on the darkness disrupting the main characters’ lives. Things quickly become complicated and tragic. So, it’s safe to say this isn’t a happy book but it is gripping.
This story was creepier than I thought it would be, with there being times I had to put it down whilst reading at night because I was scared (but then again I’m easily frightened so). However, I was engaged in the story and I found I was desperate to find out what happened next. But I felt like at the end, I’m still left with questions I want answered.
I loved the representation in this novel, featuring LGBTQ+ relationships, as well as a main character with a disability. This story is set in a boarding school so it did run the risk of being full of clichés, however the characters all felt real. Even the side characters had layers and were interesting, although there are a few who I’d like to learn more about, such as Delilah. I loved how the characters changed over the course of this novel, with some deteriorating towards the end.