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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