This Totally Surprised Me! Jackaby by William Ritter Audiobook Review

Posted June 23, 2017 by Zeee in Reviews4 Comments

This Totally Surprised Me! Jackaby by William Ritter Audiobook ReviewJackaby written by William Ritter
Publication Date: September 16th 2014
Series: Jackaby #1
Narrated by Nicola Barber
Length: 7 hrs and 21 mins
ISBN: 1616203536
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
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“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, 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, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

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Don’t want to read the whole review?  Click to jump to the Skinny Review.

Hello, Paranormal! I absolutely enjoyed this book so much and I can’t believe I waited a couple of years before I read this book! I mean, it has been on my TBR pile for the longest time! I also have a physical copy of this book but I decided to go for the audiobook version, which I DO NOT regret at all!

I mean, picture Sherlock Holmes in America during the late 1800s with a touch of the paranormal! And of course, I LOVE a good Sherlock Holmes retelling. Not sure that this is a retelling, though but it does feel like it. And it ticked all my favorite boxes!

Unusual characters, check!

A little bit of the supernatural, check!

A mystery, check!

Set in the late 1800s, check!

A quick read, check!

The main character is Abigail Rook, who left her home to join a dig which fell through. She finds herself in New England and is in search of a job. She finds an posting for an assistant to one R. F. Jackaby. Now, Jackaby is such an unusual character. Think, Johnny Depp in all his quirky roles. Jackaby is a paranormal investigator who has an unusual way of investigating cases. He and Abigail stumble upon a Jack the Ripper-esque series of murders.

Oh, and did I mention that there is a lady ghost and a duck who used to be human? Plus a really weird (and intriguing) house? Ah!

I also liked the twist in the end. I did not see who the villain was! I mean, View Spoiler » I know, I suck at guessing who the villain was. I liked how Ritter treated this story.

The only bad thing I didn’t really like about this was the romance. It felt like an afterthought. I also did not see any chemistry between Abigail and Charlie Cane, a policeman who was investigating the murders. His and Abigail’s romance felt tacked on and was added because a YA book has to have a romance. Meeeh. The book would have been better without the slight romance between these two.

So. Quick read. It is about 7 hours long on audio and the story also took place in a span of 3-4 days. The plot was fast paced and I also liked the slow parts (which wasn’t a lot).

Would I read the other books in the series? HECK yes! I want more Jackaby and Abigail!

Audiobook Review

As far as the narrator, Nicola Barber is AMAZING! I like her pacing, and I loved how she pronounced Rook as R. F. Jackaby! Her narration actually lifted the whole story to another level, which was another plus for me.

Her voice for Abigail is also very good. I did not feel like it was annoying, which is my usual problem in YA.

Books Like Jackaby

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco – Another historical YA that is inspired by the Jack the Ripper murders. The heroine is a medical assistant and the opening scene was gruesome AMAZEBALLS!

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd – Another book set in 1800s London and is a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It also features paranormal elements and a mystery!

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare – This is The Mortal Instruments spin-off that is also set in the late 1800s in London and features a lot of paranormal and steampunk elements.


Rating Report
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Overall: 4


The Sherlock Holmes retellings that I have read have been meh for me. But with this book, I want to read more!

Do you have any amazing Sherlock Holmes retelling? DO TELL!

About Nicola Barber

Nicola Barber has appeared on stage in New York and across the country, and can be seen with Scarlett Johnansson in The Nanny Diaries. She holds a degree in theatre arts from UNC-Chapel Hill, and has taken classes at the London Academy of Dramatic Art. She has been training and performing voiceovers since 2001, and can be heard in video games, animation, commercials, corporate videos, and audiobooks.

About William Ritter

Reports of William Ritter’s birthplace are unreliable and varied, placing his hometown either in a series of mysterious Catacombs in Malta or in a nondescript town in Oregon. His parents, it can be confirmed, raised him to value intelligence, creativity, and individuality. When reading aloud, they always did the voices.

Jackaby is his first novel. It was born in the middle of the night and written on two different hemispheres. It has survived typhoons and hurricanes, and was fostered into publication through the patient care of many hands.

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4 responses to “This Totally Surprised Me! Jackaby by William Ritter Audiobook Review

  1. Tammy V

    I was surprised too. I just finished Beastly Bones and the romance once again is slight. The story was great though. We see more of Jackaby’s caring side too. Love this series.