Cover of The Dire King, featuring a man in a blue shirt and a woman in a dark dress inside the profile of a man on a red background

About the Book

Title: The Dire King (Jackaby #4)
Published: 2017

Cover Story: Montell Jordan
BFF Charm: Platinum Edition
Talky Talk: Will’s Wit
Bonus Factor: Faerie Names
Anti-Bonus Factor: TEABS
Relationship Status: Forever and Always

Danger, Will Robinson! The Dire King is the fourth book in the Jackaby series. If you have not read the first three books—JackabyBeastly Bones, and Ghostly Echoes—I don’t really know what you’re doing reading this review turn away now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you have read the first three books, however, feel free to continue below. I will refrain from major spoilers in my review, but there might be hints at plot points and details about the larger story.

Cover Story: Montell Jordan

GIF from Montell Jordan's music video "This Is How We Do It"

This series has some of my most favorite covers of any series, ever. The cover of The Dire King is no exception, and brings everything full circle; the colors are the inverse of the colors on the Jackaby cover.

I do have a question, however: Is the man’s profile meant to be Charlie? I hope so! (The others feature Jackaby, Abigail, and Jenny, I think.)

The Deal:

Through their investigation of Jenny’s death, R.F. Jackaby and his assistant/protégée Abigail discovered the existence of a Big Bad, the Dire King. He’s out to rip open the boundary between Earth and the paranormal Otherworld, and is causing all sorts of trouble on both sides of the veil. Jackaby and Abigail must call on everyone they know—human or otherwise—to help them battle the Dire King, before it’s too late.

BFF Charm: Platinum

BFF platinum charm

Over the course of the first three books in this series, Abigail has proven herself a worthy friend. She’s no less awesome in The Dire King, and actually becomes even more so thanks to certain events in the novel. I gave her my BFF charm ages ago, and haven’t regretted it for one second.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

As with the other books in this series, the swoon in The Dire King is of the innocent, stealing glances and chaste hugs sort rather than anything hot and heavy. But the chemistry is there, both between Abigail and Charlie and Jackaby and Jenny. Naturally, the course of true love never did run smooth, but I’m pleased with the way everything turned out.

Talky Talk: Will’s Wit

For three books now, I’ve raved about William Ritter’s writing, particularly the dialogue and witty quips he includes in his books. So it should come as no surprise that The Dire King is rife with such delights. For example:

“Which reminds me,” I added conversationally, “do you remember the last time you threatened everyone? And then she hit you?”

Morwen glowered at me.

“With a bathtub?” I added, helpfully. “Through a wall?”

“It rings a bell,” Morwen growled icily.

“It certainly rang yours,” Jenny added.

There’s less actual mystery in the novel than in the previous books, but the action and the suspense work together nicely to fittingly wrap the series up.

Bonus Factor: Faerie Names

This ties into the Talky Talk section, as it’s just another example of Ritter’s humor, but Jackby and Abigail meet with some Seelies who have interesting names, including Serif, Virgule and Tilde.

If you’re a language/words aficionado, like I am, you’ll get a chuckle out of these as well. Particularly because it’s never addressed as being out of the ordinary.

Anti-Bonus Factor: TEABS

Painting of a woman holding a book lying on a green couch. Called "Decadent young woman. After the dance" by Ramon Casas i Carbó

I’m really going to miss going on adventures with Jackaby, Abigail and the rest of the crew. From the very start, this series quickly became a favorite, and each subsequent books in the series only solidified my love. They’re not the most advanced of mysteries, but sometimes it’s nice to just lose yourself in a story, and the Jackaby series is just such a perfect escape from reality.

Relationship Status: Forever and Always

You and me, Book, we’ve had some great times. And although our time of new adventures is drawing to a close, I’ll never stop loving you. Or sharing you with friends and family. Or displaying your gorgeous covers as shining examples of the best of the best. Or laughing when I remember a particularly funny bit of dialogue. Our bond is one that will never be broken.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Algonquin Books, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. The Dire King is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.