If you don’t want to be spoiled, know that I rated this book 5 stars on Goodreads. It made me laugh a lot, and I cried a couple of times. I think this was Ritter’s best book so far, and I look forward to what he will do next, now that Jackaby is concluded.
There are spoilers ahead, as usual. So, you’ve been warned.
The Dire King finds New Fiddleham in quite a state. The Mayor has not coped well with the fact that his beloved wife was an Nixie in disguise for the last 10 years, and has decided to arrest every non-human citizen of New Fiddleham.
Turns out, the city is chock-a-block full of all kinds of faeries and goblins, giants and gnomes, and everything in between. When Jackaby goes to the jail and witnesses the chaos of so many fair folk behind bars, he earns his place among some of my favorite characters ever.
He’s furious, and full of this righteous anger that was beautiful to witness. “We cannot make the world less awful by being more so ourselves.”
That’s some powerful shit right there, and I had to stop reading for a moment to let it sink in. I hope you do too.
Anyway, Mayor Spade releases them all, telling them that Jackaby’s house is the only safe place for them, so suddenly the quirky house on Augur lane is bursting at the seams with supernatural folk.
Including something that even Jackaby had never seen. The creature is called a Twain. It’s ancient and full of pure, old magic, and typically comes in pairs. It’s described as tiny, and furry, but bipedal. I pictured a tiny, brown Lorax.
Apparently this is something that Ritter created, because I cannot find anything about Twains on the internet that aren’t related to Mark. And I have to say he did a wonderful job! The Twain, which was alone (a red flag for a creature that comes into being with a soul mate), was enigmatic and interesting, and extremely foreboding.
the Twain explains that his mate gave her life to create the Crown, Shield, and Spear of the original Dire King, saving his life. Twains are incredibly powerful creatures created of raw magic. Giving their lives is the greatest magical act possible, and giving their life is the greatest gift a Twain can do.
On top of all this tension in the household is the fact that Charlie Cane is preparing to propose to Abigail, a fact that Jackaby makes a point to share with his assistant. I was pissed when he did that; you can’t just spoil a proposal! Come on , man!
Oh yeah, and the fact that the evil Unseelie forces are working together to revive the Dire King and sunder the veil that separates the Anwynn and Earth. You know, little things.
Despite all this tension, the book flies along, and I laughed a lot, because this book feels like a reunion. All my favorite characters from the past books come back. Hank Hudson, Charlie Cane, Hotun, Nudd the Goblin Pirate Captain, Miss Lee, among others.
So, Jackaby and company must figure out who the Dire King actually is, and how to stop him. Unseelie forces are growing, and even Jackaby’s ragtag army of supernatural beings can’t come close to beating them.
But, they get help from an unexpected source. Pavel, the fangless vampire that tried to kill Abigail in the third book. He was betrayed by the Dire King, and seeks his revenge. So, he leads Jackaby, Jenny, and Abigail through a rend in the veil, and into the heart of the Dire King’s stronghold.
He then, of course, tries to kill them, and of course, dies himself. But, not before he breaks Jenny’s amulet that lets her travel beyond the house on Augur lane. She fades away, and neither Abigail nor Jackaby know if the ghost could survive her dissolution from the Anwynn.
They move on, and discover the giant machine that the Dire King has developed to tear the veil. The key to the machine’s success is the eyes of the Seer, which means he needs Jackaby.
Things get out of control from there very quickly. Jackaby is captured, the Seelie forces arrive, only to be drained by the machine, and Jackaby’s militia storm the stronghold.
And Charlie Cane dies.
Yep. I didn’t believe it at first. I freaked out, screamed, cried. Charlie was hands down my favorite, and I was not in a place where I was ready to accept that Charlie was dead. He never even got to propose.
I had to stop reading for a bit at that moment. But I held out hope. Jackaby had just taken a spear to the chest a chapter before and survived, so I thought maybe something like that would happen for Charlie.
So, Abigail is crushed, she watched her boyfriend die at the hands of the Dire King, and Jackaby is hooked up to this terrible machine that will use his Sight to destroy the world as they know it. And he can only see one way to save everyone.
When the Seer dies, the Sight goes to the person they are looking at. And so Jackaby stares at Abigail and whispers, “I’m sorry.”
He dies. Yep. People are dropping like flies in this book and I was not okay with it! Please stop murdering all my favorites!
And the Sight flows to Abigail. It’s overwhelming and beautiful and gives her what she needs to convince Charlie’s sister to join her and defeat the Dire King. The backlash of the power of the machine unloading and repairing the veil is too much for Abigail and her new capability, and she passes out, but not before seeing Jenny hovering over Jackaby, her ghostly hands submerged into his chest.
She nearly dies in the darkness of her unconsciousness, and the Reaper visits her, offering to take her to Charlie. But, Abigail refuses, because the world needs her, and needs the Sight. Because she wants to continue Charlie’s work.
When she comes to, Jackaby is alive, resuscitated by Jenny who literally pumped his heart back to life in her hands. But, the Sight is hers now, for as long as she lives. Charlie is still dead, and the casualties to both the Seelie and Unseelie forces are great.
Alina, Charlie’s sister is made Queen of the Anwynn, although she treats it more as a Stewardship, vowing to make her brother proud and pay for her treachery. But, Abigail is numb to it all, distracted by her new Sight and her pain at the loss of Charlie.
A couple days go by, and Jackaby is there for her, helping her learn to understand what she sees, but she’s hollow. She recognizes the beauty of the library now, she can see the magical auras around the books and understands Jackaby’s methods, but she can’t feel it.
And that’s when the Twain returns. He speaks with Abigail, acknowledging her pain, and realizes that Charlie was her Twain. He asks why she didn’t take the Reaper’s offer of death, why she didn’t go to Charlie. And she tells him that she could honor Charlie more in life than she could in death. The Twain is surprised, but vanishes.
At the funeral, Abigail sees the Twain, but no one else does. He walks up the center aisle and stands on Charlie’s casket. He looks at Abigail and tells her that he hopes she makes good on his gift and will use it to make the world a better place. Together.
The Twain drops down into the casket and there is a bright flash of light as Abigail sprints up the aisle.
THAT’S HOW THE BOOK ENDS!!!!!
WHAT?! Like…. WHAT? How can you end the book like that? It’s the last book!!! How can you leave me hanging? I mean, I believe in my heart that Charlie was resurrected by the Twain, but damn, a reunion kiss would be nice…
What this really means is that I really hope Ritter will continue his New Fiddleham stories. This is the last Jackaby novel, but at the end of this novel Abigail Rook is the Seer, and even the house recognizes her as a Private Investigator as she enters. So, all my hopes and dreams are pinned on the continuation of this franchise, but with Abigail as the Seer.
Please, William Ritter. PLEASE! I need more! I need more time in New Fiddleham, and I need more Abigail and Charlie! PLEASE!
Sorry this was so long, but this book had a ton of stuff going on, and all of it was important. I think this was some of Ritter’s best writing, and he juggled the multitude of plot points and character arcs really admirably. I’m heartbroken that this could be the end for New Fiddleham, though I understand that he probably wants to write something else, at least for a little while. I get it… just, come back someday? Please?
Anyway, I’ve got Audient Void business tonight, and am listening to the next Dresden book, and slowly reading The Stone Sky. Hopefully you’ll see another book review next week.
Until then, Blogland,