A January Book of the Month Pick
“Miraculous and thrilling…A few pages in and I was determined to read every word Jess Kidd has ever written.” —Diane Setterfield, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Once Upon a River
“An impossible wonder: a book for everyone, and yet somehow a book just for you...A sumptuous tour of Victorian London, resurrected here with a vigor and vibrancy to rival The Crimson Petal and the White...Utterly magical.”—A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
“A perfect mix of hilarity, the macabre, and a touch of romance, Things in Jars is ridiculously entertaining, all as it sneaks up and makes you feel things…Simply: Jess Kidd is so good it isn’t fair.” —Erika Swyler, bestselling author of The Book of Speculation and Light from Other Stars
In the dark underbelly of Victorian London, a formidable female sleuth is pulled into the macabre world of fanatical anatomists and crooked surgeons while investigating the kidnapping of an extraordinary child in this gothic mystery—perfect for fans of The Essex Serpent and The Book of Speculation.
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.
Set in 1863 London, this lurid but languid gothic mystery from Kidd (Mr. Flood's Last Resort) finds eccentric female detective Bridie Devine investigating the disappearance of six-year-old Christabel Berwick, who appears to have been taken in the night by her nurse. Bridie can't fathom why the child's widowed father, notorious maritime oddities collector Sir Edmund Berwick, would refuse to involve the police; then she discovers that Christabel's very existence is a secret, as are her sharp teeth, piercing voice, and propensity for eating snails. Bridie vows to locate the child and bring her home provided she can determine whether Christabel is truly Berwick's daughter, or merely part of his collection. Assisting Bridie is the ghost of boxer Ruby Doyle, who recently began haunting Bridie, but refuses to explain why. Vividly sketched, larger-than-life characters and powerful senses of time and place compensate for the glacial pace and the underdeveloped plot. Penny-dreadful fans will delight in this stylish tale, but readers seeking a satisfying puzzle should look elsewhere.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Excellent character and world building and very poetically written. It has the feeling of being first in a series.
Fantasy fun in Victorian England
Bridie Devine dabbles in forensics. Of course this is Victorian London and women do not dabble in the medical nor the detective realms. Yet Bridie is an imposing woman who has been raised both on the streets of Ireland and a fine estate in England. She is fearless and fearsome when she sets her mind to solving a puzzle.
Called to a graveyard to determine the cause of death of a skeleton found in a wall, Bridie’s interested is piqued when she sees the skeleton holding a swaddled baby with teeth like a pike fish. When a baronet calls Bridie to solve the mystery of his missing child, but refuses to call the police, Bridie is suspicious. What she finds at the baronet’s estate is not the child, but another mystery to solve. The Winter Mermaid is a creature in a jar. A mysterious creature that has been deemed fictitious, but perhaps not. She has seen this creature in a jar before. Long ago in her childhood. But how did it get into the baronet’s hands?
Jess Kidd has written a wonderful novel both fantasy and fiction. The setting is perfect for this mystery of an abduction and a creature in a jar. Bridie is a heroine/detective to be loved. Add in her housemaid Cora, a seven foot tall woman and the various other curious characters, and you have a story that keeps your attention. The story hops between the present and Bridie’s childhood, but it’s not hard to keep the two straight. Often when you time jump, you lose the thread of the novel, not in this case.
Loved the premise of this book. The fantasy elements are just enough to keep you guessing. Kidd has done a lovely job of writing some fun.
This review will be posted at BookwormishMe.com on 18 Jan 2020 .