Title/Author: Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
Publisher: Atria Books
In a nutshell (Publisher):
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.
My verdict: An entertaining and atmospheric read! I’m just so glad I got to read this!Tweet
Published: Feb 4, 2020
A girl was kidnapped. But she was no ordinary girl. She has pike’s teeth, she ‘stirs up memories and thoughts, makes you feel angry, and has stony, changeable eyes’, and she feeds on snails and newts.
And so, Bridie’s services and expertise were called upon. After her having failed to save a child in her previous case, she was determined to not fail this time.
With a loyal 7-foot tall housemaid and a dead pugilist by her side, she threaded her way through a labyrinth of clues. The reader would know from the beginning who kidnapped the child, Christabel. Along the way, business deals were made among those involved, as a child peculiar like Christabel was a prized possession, especially during a time when collecting anything exotic and curious was lucrative business.
When one more body was found, Bridie knew she was running out of time. One child, many suspects; who were in cahoots with whom? Are there any wolves in sheep’s clothing? Will Bridie be able to track down the mastermind of this kidnapping and save the girl?
What an atmospheric and a thrilling ride! I loved the dark slums of Victorian London depicted here in the passage below, which set the tone of the book:
‘Just beyond you’ll detect the unwashed crotch of overworked prostitutes and the Christian sweat of the charwoman. In every inhale a shifting scale of onions and scalded milk, chrysanthemums and spiced apple, broiled meat and wet straw, and the sudden stench of the Thames as the wind changes direction and blows up the knotted backstreet. Above all, you may notice the rich and sickening chorus of shit.’
And the characters were just amazing! Cora, the over-protective 7-foot tall housemaid whose face adorned by muttonchop whiskers; Rudy the loyal, dead pugilist whose tattoos can come alive; dear little Myrtle whose only friend was a doll; Lufkin the conniving circus king, and the many memorable, if not amusing moments between Rudy and Bridie, Cora and her infatuation for Euryale the Queen of Snakes, and just the witty banter between the characters. These colorful characters made up for the muddy, murky, London.
If you love dark Victorian tales with strong, colorful characters, this one’s for you.
Thank you Netgalley and Atria Books for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.
Have you read this book, what did you think? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? If you haven’t, do you intend to? Or have you read any of her other books? Please share with me your thoughts!
Till then, happy reading! Stay safe & well!