I loved Jess Kidd's
previous book, Mr. Flood's Last Resort. (my review
). I was eager to see what story lived between the pages of her latest novel, Things in Jars
What's not to love? 1863 Victorian England, a female private investigator named Bridie Devine, curiosity collectors and a baffling new case.
Young Christobel Berwick has been kidnapped and Bridie is on the case. But, as she investigates, she meets much resistance and more questions than answers. There is a mystery surrounding the young girl - rumours of sharp teeth, water and yes, the word mermaid is whispered. Christobel would be a prize for any collector, exhibit or circus.
Bridie was such a wonderfully wrought lead character. Bright, tough, accepting, but with hidden wounds in her soul. Those scars figure into the dark plot line that runs parallel to the investigation. Bridie's companions are a ghost named Ruby that only she can see and a bearded, seven foot maid named Cora. Additional supporting players are just as well drawn.
Kidd's writing is absolutely fantastic - she captures Victorian England in every passage. Descriptions of time and place conjure up smoky alleyways, dark rooms, fog on the River Thames, questionable activities, Resurrection Men and more. The dialogue is true to the time, flowery and detailed
Kidd unfurls the mystery slowly, adding in new paths and people along the way. Things in Jars is a journey to be savoured and enjoyed. Mystery, history, fantasy all take turns in Things in Jars, but it is Bridie and her companions that stayed with me after the last chapter ended.
I chose to listen to Things in Jars. The reader was Jacqueline Milne
and she was brilliant. The lilt and movement of her voice captured the time, the characters and the plot so very, very well. Her voice supports the magical, fantasy feel of Things in Jars. She provided many different voices for assorted characters that matched the mental images I had created. Her voice was pleasant to listen. Here's an excerpt for you to listen to
. Absolutely recommended.