Reading ➽ Things in Jars Author Jess Kidd – Stevemiddleton.info
Jess Kidd shifts direction in her 3rd novel setting it in Victorian times with its inherent brutality and inhumanity, teeming with villains, murderers, the arrogance of killing medics, and ruthless amoral gentlemen anatomy collectors, hungry for what should not be alive There are Things in Jars, with their ability to disturb the natural order of things, life and death, ashes to ashes, time in supension, pickling yesterday, holding eternity in a jar Into this latest historical novel, Kidd brings her trademark elements, Irish folklore, superstitions, ghosts, the eccentric, her stellar female characters, with her standout lyrical prose that enchants and enthralls It is 1863 and London is marked by crime, disease, grime, violence, stink and penury Addicted to smoking experimental concoctions by Prudhoe in her pipe, the red haired Bridie Devine is haunted by her inability to prevent the death of a child in her last case With her now battered reputation, it is a surprise when Sir Edmund Berwick hires her to find his kidnapped 6 year old daughter, Christobel Only Christobel is no ordinary child, with extraordinary abilities, playing with memories, eyes that see too much, and pike s teeth that can wreak serious damage This time Bridie is determined not to fail a child, aided by her magnificently gigantic maid, Cora, endowed with her thick and glossy facial hair, and the ghost of the love lorn illustrated Ruby, a prizefighter, claiming to know Bridie, although she is doubtful of this fact In a narrative that goes back and forth in time to reveal Bridie s childhood of coming over from Ireland, collecting corpses with Gan, and her time as laboratory assistant to Dr John Eames at Albery Hall, wearing the clothes of the dead Lydia, links poke their heads from Bridie s past to trouble her in her present investigations There are colourful characters galore, such as the predatory and sly Mrs Bibby, born for bad business, with the tooth and claws and the backbone for it, and the viciously dangerous and manipulative Gideon In a story that takes in walled in women and children and the Winter Mermaid , there are gruesome murders, double dealing and avarice, and Bridie s life is endangered as a deadly foe comes back from the dead In the meantime, Londoners cower with fear and horror as lost rivers are resurgent, battered by never ending biblical rains as the city floods.Once again, Jess Kidd beguiles and charms with her gifts as a storyteller, her shift to the Victorian era is a sublime decision, as the era positively drips with gothic elements that serve a veritable feast for Kidd s imagination This includes the ravens, experimental potions, the penchant for curiosities, a medical profession that is unhindered by anything remotely ethical, and the corrupt scientific anatomy collectors desperate to acquire living anomalies by any means necessary and preserve them in their jars However, it is in the mix of the fantastical, Irish folklore such as the merrow, with the everyday, and Kidd s remarkable talents in characterisation that make her novels a joy to read, and ensures that her readership will continue to grow This is compulsive and magical reading fare, such infernally dark matter, but shot through with light by Bridie, Cora, Ruby and Inspector Valentine Rose I cannot describe how keen I am to get my hands on the next book Kidd writes So, what is left to say Just the small matter of this book coming highly recommended Many thanks to Canongate for an ARC. 4.5 STARS A dark, bizarre and fanciful world Imaginative storytelling that was menacing, detailed and plotted to perfection.I was quickly captivated by the gothic setting and the missing child investigation The female detective, Birdie Devine specializes in domestic investigations and minor surgery She was a fantastic character that brought humor and humanity to the tale.The supernatural elements and fairytale esque cast of characters kept me glued to the pages and immersed in their quest for the Winter Mermaid The images of snails, scales and those things in jars were mesmerizing I also learned about merrows, which both fascinated and terrified me A splash of magical realism, some wicked happenings and plenty of side characters to love hate made this one quite a fantastical journey Thanks to NG and the pub for my review copy OUT Feb 2020 Here is time held in suspension Yesterday pickled Eternity in a jar In Things in Jars, A 7 foot tall bearded parlor maid, mythical sea monsters, a ghost, and a winter mermaid are all brought together by a female pipe smoking detective in Victorian London to solve the kidnapping of a mysterious childWhen a child with supposed supernatural powers is kidnapped, Detective Bridie Devine is commissioned to find her Bridie s sleuthing abilities lead her into the dark underbelly of nineteenth century London where she encounters a criminal element obsessed with possessing the world s oddities Dead or alive, there is a price on the head of those who are different and don t fit societal norms.Part mystery, part social commentary, part fairy tale, Things in Jars had me completely enthralled Jess Kidd encompasses all of the strange eccentricities of the Victorians In Bridie, Ruby, a dead boxer, and Cora, a 7 foot tall parlor maid, she creates fascinating and multi dimensional characters I hope to see them again in a future novel Kidd seamlessly weaves together a story filled with magic, strong women, and those who long to possess those who are different I LOVED loved loved every minute of this book It is strange, eccentric, and wonderfully weird This is definitely one of the best books I have read in 2019 I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Below her, streets and lanes, factories and workhouses, parks and prisons, ground houses and tenements, roofs, chimneys and treetops And the winding, sometimes shining, Thames the sky s own dirty mirror The raven leaves the river behind and charts a path to a chapel on a hill with a spire and a clock tower She circles the chapel and lands on the roof with a shuffling of wings She pecks at brickwork, at lichen, at moth casts, at nothing She sidles up to a gargoyle and runs her beak affectionately around his eyes, nudging, scooping Bridie Devine is a young Irishwoman, not the flinching kind, who works as a detective, aided by her faithful housekeeper, Cora, and offering an often exasperating help to Inspector Rose Brightest than the blazing flame, determined and dedicated, she is called to investigate the disappearance of Christabel A child that has the power to enter your conscience just by looking at you with eyes that change colours Bridie enters a world of illegal medical research, anatomists, and legends and faces the darkest aspects of her childhood, aided by a mysterious rugged man with a top hat who happens to bedead.What follows is my personal blabbering, full of adoration for London, Gothic atmosphere, mermaids and the intention to build a bookcase shrine to properly worship Jess Kidd s extraordinary talent Ye have been warnedThe woman is made of boot polish and pipe smoke, clean cloth and the north wind And as for the dead man walking behind her, well, he means no harm London is the central character It comes alive through the pages I don t know, Jess Kidd has a supernatural gift I don t know how else to explain her ability to hypnotize the reader She has created an elaborate time machine to transport us to London during the 1860s We walk and see and smell and listen It couldn t be real than that The multicultural neighborhoods of the capital, the dreadful orphanages vividly described by Dickens, Trollope, and Thackeray, the ever present threat of cholera, the mysterious nights, the penny dreadfuls scenery And most importantly, Old Father Thames stands witness to a city that retains so many secrets, so many horrors, and so much beauty The marvelous way in which Kidd leads the readers in the streets and alleys of the city reminded me of Michel Faber s masterpiece The Crimson Petal and the White.I mean, read these paragraphsThe metropolis isn t sleeping, not really For every Londoner in bed there are ten awake and up to no good on the fly, on the loose, on the tiles The moon knows she sees all Tonight, she s our guide, for it s late and every self respecting raven will be perched in her own black feathered embrace Let the corvid sleep The moon sees the beauty and cruelty of London her whores and drunks, saints and murderers, thieves and lovers and fighters The moon sees every black alley and yard, scrubland and marsh Coming up from beneath London s streets, another new sound a tumultuous rushing The ancient rivers of London, newly awaken and gathering force, now erupt Flooding lane and street, drowning basement dwelling families and overwhelming cesspits Then there is the rain Great drops of the stuff, a constant patter on every window and shutter, tin can and bucket And the Thames keeps rising And then, the Gothic elements are used to perfection There are traces of witchcraft and potential hauntings Strange things in jars, the circus world with its peculiars Anatomists struggling to learn and to deceive Stories of mermaids from Ireland, Holland, and France The presence of the merrow, the evil mermaid, a figure we don t often witness in Literature Pigeons and seagulls form common imagery throughout the novel, creating a sense of unrest and eerie commotion There is a tale within the tale and the effect is astonishing, it will give you nightmares There s even a reference to Herne the Hunter, a legendary British Folklore figure.And the characters Nevermind the perfect prose, the beautiful dialogue, the astonishing imagery BridieJesus Christ, I could highlight every sentence she utters, she is my new spirit animal From beloved Wicklow Sassy and ferocious, with an acute sense of irony, indifferent to all norms and rules How can I not adore her Cora, loyal, fierce, honest and sensitive And RubyRuby stands equal to Himself s Mahony in terms of charm level, all handsome and valiant and electrifying Bridie and Ruby are one of the best, most unique, most perfect I could go on forever couples you ll ever encounter in a novel.Is this the best Jess Kidd novel yet I think so I adore all three but this one truly captured my heart, put it in a chest and hid the key In a jar When perfect writing, outstanding atmosphere, and sheer literary Art come together, the result is a masterpiece like Things In Jars.Also, Jess Kidd, why are you so perfectBridie walks between the headstones, the crosses, the covered urns, the plump marble pillows inviting everlasting slumber Stone angels perch on all four corners of her tomb wings folded and faces impassive, they are giving nothing away My reviews can also be found on Jess Kidd is now officially one of my most favourite authors Three beautiful books in a row with not a fault in any of them What to ask for.Things in Jars moves us away from the author s usual locations in Ireland and off to London Of course our main characters are still beautifully Irish and, also of course, one of them is a ghost Kidd describes Victorian London perfectly with all its horrors and its smells and its poverty among the lower classes Her characters too are all larger than life Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of the time, takes on a case of a stolen child who turns out to be a very unusual child indeed Helping her in the search is Ruby Doyle, champion boxer, now deceased but not yet resting in peace, and Cora Butter the only, and most terrifying, seven foot tall housemaid in London The story goes into some very dark places but it is also humourous, totally entertaining and very well written A really excellent and very readable book I loved it. But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so muchHans Christian Andersen, The Little MermaidI m a huge fan of Jess Kidd s exquisite, playful writing and KERPOW, what a start Her vivid prologue was one of the finest things I ve read in a long, long time Gadzooks That alone was worth the entrance fee The book is set in a Victorian London that Dickens might have portrayed one which is theatrically grotesque and wonderfully atmospheric whose slums are as lively as a blanket full of lice Our heroine is special detective Bridie Devine, a dynamic pipe smoking woman of around thirty years of age She wears the ugliest bonnet in Christendom and can drink most men under the table.Ms Devine womankind s answer to Sherlock Holmes has a psychic talent for reading corpses that have met with inexplicable deaths The author describes her as being a woman made from boot polish and pipe smoke Kidd s female characters are often gloriously independent, which I love.Devine s latest case is the kidnapping of Baronet s daughter, Christabel Berwick, a pike toothed child who smells of the sea and is kept shackled and hidden in a locked nursery The magical realism herein is precisely as it should be dark, imaginative, irreverent and wryly amusing To explain this thriller mystery any further would be to divulge its silty, slippery secrets It rather frustrates me that certain ham handed authors find themselves on Booker shortlists when ber talented Jess Kidd can write their socks off Mind you, that said, I m not altogether sure why she felt the need to hyphenate words that shouldn t be hyphenated church yard crest fallen dumb founded gas lights Perhaps she was going for a Victorian style of writing Disappointingly, the story began to lose its cut and thrust in the middle stages I was even gulp bored for several chapters The treacherous ocean had become a gentle millpond and I wanted Ah, but wonderful Jess Kidd redeems herself with a poignant scene at the book s d nouement a passage so pitiful, so heroic, that the scales on the back of my neck stood on end and my gills began to gasp Bravo, Jess I squeaked, clapping my fins together Best supporting character awards go to two protags one living, one dead Cora Butter, Bridie s seven foot tall housemaid, who is fiercely loyal and commendably noble and to Ruby Doyle, a top hatted prizefighter whose sliding tattoos have a mind of their own.As ever, Jess Kidd s lyrical prose is a joy to behold and she employs an opulence of literary devices to good effect personification aphorisms allusion and zoomorphism, to name but a few All told, I liked this dark, exuberant, whimsical extravaganza very much Indomitable Bridie Devine is a mesmerising character who will linger in your mind long after the final page is turned Nevertheless, I enjoyed this author s previous offerings Four stars, bumped up to five, because Jess Kidd has ninja writing skillz. Meeting Birdie Devine, a female investigator, who in 1863 receives an offer from a baronet to find hs kidnapped daughter, was a pleasure More than that, I was delighted to get acquainted with her and follow her efforts to uncover the truth behind the abduction She is observant, intelligent, has no fear of the dead or alive, with one exception, perhaps, and she has been through a lot in life And she is accompanied by a former boxer who, though dead, gives some advice, occasionally I loved everything about this mixture of HF, fantasy and gothic elements The narration is exquisite, and the things we learn about Birdie s past definitely add to the atmosphere in the novel All characters are vividly described, each with the characteristics that make them peculiar and particular There is no character which is unnecessary, and the way Ms Kidd conncects them is brilliant Birdie is a survivor, created by what she experienced and by whom she met in the past I love Birdie When I saw the title of this book months ago, I immediately thought of the macabre the Victorians were so interested in, and it turned out, I was right This novel has Victorian touch of the highest quality, and I truly recommend it to anyone eager to dive into a terrific read Many thanks to Jess Kidd, Atria Books and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review. THINGS IN JARS by Jess Kidd is a gothic story set in Victorian London in the 1860s with a few flashback chapters in the 1830s and 1830s Birdie Devine is a female detective that takes on domestic investigations and does minor surgeries She has two cases, one given to her by Inspector Valentine Rose of Scotland Yard, and a second one when she is hired by Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick to find his kidnapped daughter.Kidd des a great job of writing in such a way that you not only hear what s happening, but you can see it vividly, and even experience the unfortunate smells of the time The story is somewhat gruesome and shocking at times and there is a paranormal aspect to it as well It is gritty and dark at times and, at other times, it takes on a lighter tone.The characters are compelling, fascinating, and felt three dimensional with clear motivations There was enough at stake to keep me engaged throughout the story The world building was absolutely fantastic and gave a clear sense of time and place.Overall, this was an entertaining book that I would recommend to those that enjoy stories set in Victorian London and like a little paranormal and a bit of romance in their stories Thanks to Atria Books and Jess Kidd for a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley and the opportunity to provide an honest review Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. 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 SpeculationBridie 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 Recipe Throw in a very unusual detective named Bridie, her housekeeper Cora whom Bridie helped rescue from a freak show, and a ghost, an ex boxer who has a tattooed body, with tattoos that move, wearing only a top hat and baggy underdrawers Add a missing child from a notable personage, the folk story of the merrow, one or two evil men, a unusual but helpful apothecary and freak shows and oddities galore What one now has is a truly imaginative, inventive and entertaining look at a time when strange ruled the day.Don t know how Kidd comes up with the story ideas she has, but I ve enjoyed all three of her very different books This is a dark London, a hidden London where many things go unnoticed and unreported Bridie has her hands full and a very interesting back story The ghost insists she knows him from the past, but she doesn t remember,though by books end that will change The mood, the atmosphere, the gothic storytelling aided in my quest to know how s the author would bring this all together She does, in a thriller sty e with an emotional edge.One can t help wondering where this author will take us next, or if this might be the start of a series featuring Bridie Time will tell.