Strong Victorian women dealing with wildly unladylike things. Like death. And maybe a kidnapped mermaid or two.
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Why I love it
BOTM Ambassador, @theliteraryllama
It isn’t often that I find a singular and completely unique book in a genre as popular as historical fiction. A book that is so memorable in its mystery and believable in its fantasy that each time I put the book down it’s like waking from a twisted dream. But that’s exactly what I found in Jess Kidd’s Things in Jars, an immersive story with descriptions so bold you can almost taste, smell, and touch the underbelly of Victorian London—grotesqueries and all.
Bridie Devine is on a mission to crack an unusual case: The daughter of a wealthy and powerful man has been kidnapped. Only her existence was supposed to be a secret—as were her supernatural powers. Searching the streets of London with an amusing cast of sidekicks—think a pugilistic ghost and a giantess housemaid—Bridie searches for the missing child, and in the process, uncovers far more than she bargained for.
Kidd’s unique approach to storytelling is apparent from the very beginning, and throughout the story, I felt like a bird soaring above and then swooping into the scenes. Beautifully written but with subject matter that is dark and brutal, the novel perfectly blends fanciful elements with depth and realism. Reading Things in Jars is a beguiling, sensory, and most of all fun experience. This book is in a class all of its own.
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.
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Electrifying storytelling that swirls inside your heart. I feel like I’m the jar, wanting preserve this gritty fairytale and its’ charming misfit cast in my brain forever. Can’t sing my praises enough
I’ve heard it wasn’t for everyone, but I personally loved the author’s prose. Jess Kidd’s ability to drop an image bomb onto the page was incredible. I loved the misfit heroine and her companions.
I 100% picked this book because of the gorgeous cover; but the story did not disappoint. It took a second to adjust to a London where ghosts appear and mermaids go missing, but then I was hooked. ❤️
Kidd’s style is so unique I couldn’t help but fall in love with it by the end of the novel. Appreciated the unwavering & unapologetic feminism embedded into the main character. Great love story, too
This book is so odd and magical and folkloric. Beings that look human but aren’t, so much pain in people’s pasts, so much humor from everyone. I don’t really have the words for it but I loved it.
Mount Rainier, MD
A macabre and, at times, gruesome depiction of Victorian England following a female detective. Fun to read, but the plot fizzles towards the end. I’d be curious to see if this became a series, though.
I will bet heavy that this makes it at least to the BOTY finalist list. Such a fascinating, unique plot, supported by some of the most thoroughly engrossing writing I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.
North Port, FL
I LOVED THIS BOOK! Victorian London with a unique, strong-willed female sleuth with a ghost and giantess side-kicks solving a kidnapping that isn’t quite a normal kid. Contender for book of the year!
The book felt slow at first but really captures attention. Yes, there is a fantasy/magic aspect but the story itself and of the lead character is what makes book facinating. Definitely worth the read.
what a blast! reading this feels like being told a riotous, fun story by a close friend over a cheeky glass of madeira. but it's got such cutting emotion and tender, beating heart. i'm utterly charmed
I could not put this book down. The stimulating & thought provoking language & imagery brings Victorian London alive. The amalgamation of the fantastical and the mundane will keep avid readers hooked.
This novel has a fascinating tale that is created and completed so perfectly that you cannot help but be amazed and perfectly pleased with how it turns out. I sibcerely hope we get more Birdie Devine!
This book caused a huge array of reactions for me, I laughed, I gasped, I felt for the characters, I even had to read a few sentences out loud to whoever else was in the room. Very unique and engaging
I love this author's writing style! It held my interest from the first sentence, and didn't disappoint throughout the entire book. A good story, with well-developed characters and an interesting plot.
Wheat Ridge, CO
I just adored this. The ending fell a bit flat for me but I loved the adventure still! Excellent descriptions, I really felt like I could actually see everything that was happening. Funny and charming
Cutler Bay , FL
Once you get passed the first 20 pages, this book is a real page turner. Magical yet very real and raw at the same time. If you like complex plots and a great cast of characters, this book is for you.
This book definitely started out slow and there are quite a few characters to keep straight. I found that once I stuck it out through the beginning I was captivated by the main character and mystery.
I liked reading this mystery book. It’s fantasy/sci-fi mixed with a historical fiction whodunnit but also with details of some interestingly complex lives from childhood on. Definitely a good read.
A lovely change of pace in setting and plot. Colorful charcters and a plot with elements of the macabre and of myth created a compelling story. I might have liked an ending that let Ruby stay, but....
There are so many elements that come together in this bold story: folklore, gothic historical fiction, magical realism, the paranormal, and a mystery to solve. An imaginative and fantastical journey.