London, 1863. Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age, is taking on her toughest case yet. Reeling from her last job and with her reputation in tatters, a remarkable puzzle has come her way. Christabel Berwick has been kidnapped. But Christabel is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist.As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen. Anomalies are in fashion, curiosities are the thing, and fortunes are won and lost in the name of entertainment. The public love a spectacle and Christabel may well prove the most remarkable spectacle London has ever seen. Things in Jars is an enchanting Victorian detective novel that explores what it is to be human in inhumane times.
Why should you read THINGS IN JARS by Jess Kidd ?
As pale as a grave grub she’s an eyeful. She looks up at him, startled, from the bed.– Things in Jars, Jess Kidd
I love reading historical fiction and if it has a hint of mystery and/or fantasy mixed into it, I’ll jump on it right away. This was my first time reading a Jess Kidd novel and I can’t believe I didn’t come across her writing before.
Things in Jars is set in the year 1863 when London was a cesspool of crimes and diseases. We follow the story of a female detective Bridie Devine as she attempts to rescue 6 year old Christobel, the kidnapped child of a Lord Berwick. It certainly doesn’t help Bridie that she is a female in a world of male detectives and that she was unable to prevent the death of a child in her last case.
Christobel is not an ordinary child for it seems that she has extraordinary abilities, can play with others’ memories. Her eyes see too much and she has pike’s teeth that can wreak serious damage. However, Bridie is determined not to fail another child and thus, she with her giant but wonderful maid Cora and the ghost of a prizefighter named Ruby, she sets out on a dangerous path to find Christobel.
The timelines are divided are divided into two as we go back to Bridie’s past and come back to her present. Bridie’s past shows us her coming from Ireland when she was a child, collecting corpses with Gan, her time as laboratory assistant to Dr John Eames at Albery Hall, and wearing the clothes of the dead Lydia. We learn soon enough that Bridie’s past links into her current investigation.
… the low, thick fog that has descended upon the city like an unwashed bedsheet. Oh, the unwholesome colour! Like sinus rot, and dense, like only a London Particular can be. You could scoop it into a tankard and it would mug there.– THINGS IN JARS, JESS KIDD
I can’t sing enough praises about Jess Kidd‘s writing. Her characters are so lively and colourful that they leap out of the page and you stare at them in wonder. Besides Bridie’s housekeeper/friend Cora, the ghost of a boxer who’s in love with Bridie, we also meet characters such as the predatory and sly Mrs Bibby and the viciously dangerous Gideon.
It had all the elements of a perfect Victorian-era detective novel. There are gruesome murders, double dealing, never ending rains that threaten to tear down a city, and deadly villians that come back to haunt from the dead. In a time when medical profession was bound by any ethics, Jess KIdd immaculately describes the gruesome outcome when the penchant of curiosities knows no bound. She writes about corrupt anatomy collectors who are desperate to acquire living anomalies by any means necessary and preserve them in their jars.
Overall, I highly recommend this book not only because of its encorporation of fantasy and mystery, beautifully alive characters, and the storytelling but also because of the brilliant author who wrote it.
|Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.|
Author: Connect with Author Jess Kidd here .
- Publisher: Canongate Books
- Publication Date: 04 April 2019
- Paperback(ARC): 416 Pages
Do you think you’ll read THINGS IN JARS? Do you like reading historical fiction set in the Victorian era? Have you read any similar books or Jess Kidd’s previous books namely The Hoarder and Himself ? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!