It’s always better to live in hope.
Title: Things In Jars
Author: Jess Kidd
Page Count: 384 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction | Magical Realism
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Buy It: Chapters Indigo
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 know it’s only April and it’s too early to say this but I guarantee this will win for my favourite read of 2020. Although I had a tricky start with the writing this book grew on me like no book has ever grown on me before. A quarter of the way in and I knew it was going to be a 5 star read. And a 5 star read it was!
A note on the writing.
It’s very different and it’s one you need to pay full attention to so that you can get into its groove. Once you’re in you won’t want to leave. Ever. I was so pulled into this book that I honestly feel like the characters a part of me. I truly hope Kidd writes another! We need more Bridie! If you pick this up and don’t try to get into the writing you’ll regret it. This book has some of the most potent quotes I’ve ever read. They make you think and they make you reflect and they’re absolutely beautiful.
The old ship-chandlery shop is the place to go find something lost and to lose something found under questionable circumstances.
There’s a huge aesthetic and mood to this book. Set in the 1800s the line between science and magic is blurred. A time where your ability to suspend belief is a bit easier than present times. Things In Jars is a mix of Tim Burton (credit to @liz.kowal) with a splash of The Shape of Water, some Marvelous Mrs Maisel attitude, bits of supernatural that’s Penny Dreadful-esque and a Dickensian twist all put into a cauldron and stirred. What you get is truly a magical read. The lyrical writing, the humorous banter, original plot, touching characters and excellent execution in terms of the genre blend (historical fiction/mystery/magical realism). Kidd has created a book I’ll definitely re-read in the future. If you don’t know this fact about me I rarely re-read books so that’s a high praise coming from me!
Don’t bring the bad to mind else you set it galloping toward you.
As I’m typing this review I honestly want to put everything down and just go re-read it. Bridie is a detective who carries a anger on her thigh, smokes a pipe and solves murders by reading corpses. She has been hired to find a missing girl. A girl who nobody really knows is missing. For reasons I cannot disclose. You’ll meet Bridie’s melancholy friend Ruby who is in fact a ghost, a ghost she can only see. Her housemaid Cora is 7 foot tall and has a “take no shit from anyone” attitude. A glimpse into Bridie’s past brings more layers to the story.
Trust me you won’t want to put this down. It’s so good I don’t want to shelve it away so maybe I’ll keep it near me so I can glimpse at it daily. So tempted to grab the rest of her books asap.