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With Jackaby 4, The Dire King, we have a satisfying denouement of the series which pulls in all the clues and events of the previous three novels. What seemed unrelated is now shown as intricately connected to one event: the return from the Fae world of the Dire King - and the reintegration of the faerie and human worlds. I'm not a fan of Fae stories and didn't know going into the series that was the way it would go; all the same, I've enjoyed every book for the wit and imagination of the worldbuilding. Jackaby and Rook are great characters and whose storylines I was sad to see come to an end now that the tale is complete.
Story: New Fiddleham is the epicenter of the supernatural as the odd creatures take up residence in Jackaby's house for protection now that they have been 'outed' by various events. Jackaby makes several bargains with the Seelie court to help find the Dire King and his lost instruments of power (black crown, black spear, shield). It is feared once the Dire King has assembled those items again, he will return from the dead and spread war across the human world.
There is plenty of adventure to be had with The Dire King as Abigail and Jackaby will have to move between the Fae and the human worlds to combat the growing rift and power of the Dire King. They do not know who he is but they rapidly find clues to his spear and shield - clues that are as confusing as they are useful. There are enough red herrings in the book to surprise and I enjoyed the twists and turns. Nothing in the book is as it seems to our intrepid heroes.
The story moves briskly and Ritter does an excellent job of tying in the events of previous novels to the overall story arc. Jackaby isn't too clever nor is Abigail too lucky - often it is hard work and a bit of perseverance that helps them to uncover what they need. Along the way, we get all the bon mots and witticisms that have made the books so memorable. I often had a smile on my face at the turn of a phrase or unexpected situation.
By the end, it all makes sense and is very clever. I listened to the Audible version and the author did a great job at giving us many different accents and personalities. I think the only one I had a hard time with was her Jackaby - she sounded too much like a Brit trying to give a laconic American accent and thus sounded stilted. It honestly sucked all the life and personality out of Jackaby as a character.
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Simply Wonderful! Ritter managed to not only did end his series on a high note, but he effectively tied up all his lose ends. Nicola Barber did a fantastic job as always. Every character had a clear distinct voice, and I had no trouble following along.
The only parts that weren’t stellar: The random gushes of breath taken periodically through the book (no a lot and spaced out). It happened so infrequently I thought it was apart of the actual writing, but I’ve since looked at a physical copy, and it’s not. Also the secondary romance. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention in the first three books but there was a secondary pairing that I just did not see coming so to me it just felt random.