At a Glance
Title: Things in Jars
Author: Jess Kidd
Expected Published: February 4, 2020 by Atria Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery
Goodreads Rating: 3.95 out of 5
My Rating: ★★★★
“Bridie Devine—female detective extraordinaire—is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.
Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.
Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times. ”
I was very excited about this book. This book is all my favorite things: part historical fiction, part mystery, part fantasy. The main character if Birdie Devine, a women before her time, she’s stifled by the social aspects of Victorian London. Even though she’s been barred from being a doctor, she doesn’t let that stop her from being on of the best freelance detectives in London.
Bridie is tasked with finding the missing daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick who refuses to get the police involved in the kidnapping of the child. Even though Berwick insists that the child is missing, the lack of cooperation he gives Birdie is none to comforting.
As Bridie continues to investigate the disappears of the mysterious child, she finds that this child may actually be from out of some gothic legends. Meaning this child may actually have some supernatural abilities. In Victorian London, curiosities are all the rage, especially those believed to be supernatural, which will make it even harder for Bridie to find the missing child.
Along the way, Bridie must also face her past. Her past relationship with a psychotic doctor may actually be the key to finding the missing child. Throughout the book, I really enjoyed the occasional flashbacks to Bridie’s childhood, which also help to aid in understanding our protagonist better.
Bridie is joined by quite a cast of characters. She has a 7′ lady’s maid, the ghost of a boxer, and an adoptive father who’s apothecary who’s ideas are very ahead of his time. The character development in this book is stellar. My biggest character complaint is that I never find out what the relationship of Bride and the ghost is, unless I missed it.
In terms of prose Kidd writes beautifully, but you need to give the book you’re full attention while reading. When I first started reading Things in Jars I had a hard time getting into her prose. I was extremely intrigured in the storyline, but Kidd is all about flowerly descriptions, which is not always my thing. It does make the story more poetic in nature, which for a Victorian themed books works. However, it can be hard to immerse yourself into the story if you were expecting a straight up mystery. If reading classics from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is too much wording for you, then you’ll want to skip this book.
I started out giving this book 3.5 stars but as the story continued, I fell in love with the cast of characters too much not to give it ★★★★. I love the gothic vibes Kidd gives us plus the mixture of mystery, fantasy, and science is perfect. This book has mermaids ya’ll, mermaids!
This book is out today, February 4th! If you think you’d like to read this book, get your copy HERE!
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Things in Jars. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my Instagram @speakingof_books.
About the Author
Jess Kidd is the author of Himself and The Hoarder, also titled Mr. Flood’s Last Resort (U.S.), winner of the 2016 Costa Short Story Award. Jess’ debut novel, Himself, was published by Canongate in October 2016. The Hoarder, her second novel, hit the shelves in February 2018. Jess’s third book Things in Jars came out 4 April 2019 and the reviews are in. She is also currently developing her own original TV projects with leading UK and international TV producers and is writing a children’s book and a novella.