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Jackaby is described in its summary as “Doctor Who meets Sherlock”. I think this is a pretty apt description – Jackaby is similar to both the Conan Doyle Sherlock and the Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock with a little bit of Matt Smith thrown in for good measure. Usually I hate when books are compared to other books, TV shows, or movies, but in this case, it wasn’t off the mark. Thankfully, Ritter’s characters are so unique and solidly-done that I was able to completely separate them while reading (er..listening to) the story. The world that Ritter has created is full of seriously cool fantastical creatures and I absolutely loved learning about everyone and everything in it.
My only complaint is probably going to surprise most of you. There is practically no romance in the book, which is actually quite nice to have, but the lengths Ritter went through to emphasize the lack of romance between Abigail and Jackaby is a little ridiculous. Instead of allowing the two leads who would actually make a really great couple because of how well they balance each other, we end up having two secondary characters written in for Abigail and Jackaby and it really just muddles the story. In fact, the romance between Abigail and her police officer often feels forced. Here’s hoping the romance that actually should be happens in Beastly Bones (the sequel to Jackaby).
Nicola Barber is a fantastic narrator. She has an amazing ability to do different voices distinctly and with incredible believability. I was able to become fully immersed in the story because each of the characters’ voices were all so unique and easily identified. I’m so glad she narrated this story because it made for a wonderful listening experience. I would highly recommend checking out some of the other books she’s narrated (I also listened to Wild Born by Brandon Mull narrated by her).
The bottom line: Jackaby is a fun, enjoyable novel. Ritter mixes an amazing fantasy world with historical details that make reading Jackaby like being in the world of Sherlock Holmes if it were on a different planet. Nicola Barber’s narration is absolute perfection, and if you are a fan of audiobooks, I’d highly recommend checking this one out in that format.