I've been on the hunt for a good paranormal investigator series for a long time, but always come away from first titles rather disappointed.
Jackaby almost was added to that pile for me, because I generally don't like the kitchen-sink approach to paranormal or supernatural activity. I like tight, cohesive stories that deal with one creature/lore/legend at a time. Here, there were more things that I can count on my fingers, and that tenor presented itself rather plainly fairly early on. That, and there was a bit too much whimsy (at times) for my taste. Jackaby's hat and manner of speaking, for example, and the fact that he rooms with a ghost and a person turned into a duck. However, the book did have several saving graces that will keep me coming back.
Abigail Rook, an adventuress-in-waiting and Jackaby's new assistant, is an excellent character. She is witty, resourceful, and goes with the flow, providing a practical (and often humorous) approach to counterbalance Jackaby's "I'll believe in anything and everything" attitude. Their methods of investigation (her, more like Holmes' attention to small yet significant details) was a great counterpoint to the walking encyclopedia of unnatural things that is her boss. And his aloofness and scientifically-bred social awkwardness is rather endearing.
Even though there were multiple creatures at play here, each one that was a focus of this story was really well done, and in that moment felt like it was getting that deep treatment that I appreciate. The banshee was hands-down my favorite, but even the details of the monstrous killer were as meticulously researched and gruesome as any true fairy tale should be. And that was rewarding. So were the other characters, the "Lestrade" stand-in, and the officer Charlie. I also appreciated the climate of the book in that not every non-human creature is depicted as monstrous or incapable of co-existence. Very species forward.
So I will be coming back for more, no matter how many creatures are in the next book. Also, the very kind and sweet gesture Jackaby makes toward Rook at the end has got me dangling on that hook.
K. Rating: 4.5/5