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Things in Jars

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,405 ratings  ·  434 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published April 4th 2019 by Canongate Books
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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,405 ratings  ·  434 reviews

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Nilufer Ozmekik
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five stars and a statue goes to best portrayed Victorian London book !
This is incredible combination of humor, kitsch, folklore with the writer’s talented and never ending imagination.
We meet one of the most interesting heroines, Bride Devine , a woman detective, wearing a dagger strapped to her thigh, smoking pipe, solving murders by reading corpses and talking with ghosts.
It seems like one of the heroes , also the part of love triangle is Ruby Doyle, champion boxer who is also dead.

Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
“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 child.

When 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
Amalia Gavea
‘’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 ...more
Holly  B

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 Devinespecializes 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
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5000-2019
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 more 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
Kevin Ansbro
But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more.
—Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid

I'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
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Chelsea Humphrey
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chelsea by: Atria Books
BOTM pick January 2020!

Absolutely breathtaking. I must read more from Jess Kidd ASAP! While the mystery of the disappeared girl is front and foremost in this tale, I felt that the idea of our fascination with creatures and humans different from the norm, and our desire to contain them, was a huge theme explored as well. This was a timely, thought-provoking read, and although it took me a bit to get through this one, it was well worth the time taken to read it.

*Many thanks to the publisher for
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first five star read of 2020

From the first sentence, you know this book is going to be different. “As pale as a grave grub, she’s an eyeful.” The writing is just gorgeous, in that Victorian, Dickensian fashion. Think Dickens matched with Grimms Fairy Tales. Or Dickens if he was smoking hashish ( or one of Prudhoe’s blends) and into Irish folktales.

I loved the characters: Bridie, part sleuth, part doctor (untrained), Cora, her seven foot maid with a beautiful baritone voice and Ruby, a dead
Diane S ☔
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Victorian detective novel set in London, 1863..
This cast of characters is something else! Bridie, a red haired Irish woman..pipe smoking, a small and tough broad and her sidekick, a ghost named Ruby Doyle (especially loved these two)
Bridie is on a case to solve the kidnapping of six year old Cristabel Berwick, an “oddity of nature” who has pike like teeth, who smells of the sea and draws people’s memories out of them.

Jess Kidd is an amazing writer!
This is her third book and I’ve enjoyed
Will Byrnes
A cloth covers the jar that Bridie took from the bookcase in the nursery, and Ruby is thankful for this. For the contents have the ability to rearrange even a dead man’s sense of reality. As with all terrible, wondrous sights, there is a jolt of shock, then a hypnotic fascination, then the uneasy queasiness, then the whole thing starts again; the desire to look and the desire never to have looked in the first place.
1860s London, the prime of the Victorian age. About fifteen years before
Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review.

Such wonderful things come in jars. Pickles, jalapeno peppers, a living heart, malformed sea creatures . . . Can you hear the giggling wine bottles? Stop for a moment and catch the waft of human misery, take note of the rats without eyes, and the sweet face of a little girl with an innocent smile that masks her pike teeth. Grotesque is done to a tasty turn here.

Bridie Devine is a most unusual investigator. She reads corpses and can also
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"London is awash with the freshly murdered...Bridie has a talent for the reading of corpses: the tale of life and death written on everybody." Bridie Devine, "a small, round, upright woman of around thirty...with ...vivid red hair tucked...inside her white widow's cap...might be called by Inspector Valentine Rose of Scotland Yard to determine the cause of a bizarre or inexplicable death. The "dark underbelly of Victorian London" in 1863 included kidnapping, a seemingly profitable venture. One ...more
Hannah Greendale
When the who, what, where, when, why and how are all revealed in the prologue, there's not much mystery or intrigue to be had. Kidd leaves a few too many loose ends, delivers a murky assault midway through the book, offers up a hackneyed villain, and never quite clarifies some relationships between characters, yet she crafts such an unusual world one can't help but keep turning pages. Water dripping down walls, snails migrating en masse, a girl of alabaster skin whose bite is venemous, a ghost ...more
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sir Edmund Berwick is a collector. A collector of what exactly? Well, he has a keen interest in the abnormal. The mutated, the grotesque, life that is somehow, and the larger the difference the better, different to the norm and this life must live in, or around water. So, if you are a mutated, abnormal, grotesque form of water-born life in the vicinity of Sir Edmund, be very careful, you may become the latest edition to his collection. And so, the mystery of the title is explained swiftly.

Is it too early to choose a favorite book of 2020?

"It's been a treat, what with the snails and the thing in the jar and the kidnapped child and the corpse. And everyone hiding something, it seems."
This one is murky, and creepy, but with a sense of humor, and awesome characters out the wazoo.

I want to be Bridie Devine, a bold and cynical gal, solving mysteries with the help of my partner the ghost, who's kind of sexy for a dead guy. This was the perfect blend of magical weirdness and grim,
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So full of emotions to review now. Soon.
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
My thanks to Atria books, Jess Kidd and Netgalley. I guess I'm going against the tide here, but I really didn't care for this book. I've tried this author once before, and it just wasn't my groove. This takes place in Victorian London, which for me is often iffy. It's a time period that I love reading about, but it's also a slightly disgusting time! I can read about murder and mayhem, but if someone throws their waste out of the window, then I'm just about gagging my guts out! So, I need ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
A dark, gothic tale set in Victorian London starring Bridie Devine as a detective. Bridie also has a medical background as she was brought up in Dr. Eames' home and acted as an assistant to him. Bridie becomes involved in a case of a missing child. The child has some disturbing characteristics and is sought as a "collector's item" by several.

During this period in London much experimentation took place in the medical field with body organs, surgery, and medical procedures. There were collectors
Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
WOW.... can I just say Jess Kidd where have you been all my life?!

What a masterpiece my friends! What a brilliant storyteller with elements of supernatural, fantasy, and mystery. I was hesitant about reading this one but saw all the raving reviews and am so glad that I took the chance!

I was quickly hooked with the fascinating characters and the gothic vibe in this story. The imagination and vivid details of this tale was quite brilliant! And can I say I couldn't get enough of Birdie Devine...
Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell

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DNF @ p.233

I had high hopes for THINGS IN JARS. One of the suggested books was THE DOLL FACTORY, which was an ARC I really enjoyed reading earlier this year. The resurrectionist angle with what sounded like a dash of magic realism was reminiscent of another piece of Victoriana, THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL, which was yet another win for me. I didn't see how this could be bad.

I think my chief problem when picking up this book was that I came into
Whispering Stories
Book Reviewed on

Bridie Devine is a female private detective in the Victorian Era, 1863 to be precise when females were more known to be housewives or maids. She is asked by the physician of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick to find his secret young daughter, Christabel, who has been kidnapped, as he doesn’t want the police involved.

Bridie travels to the estate of Sir Edmund to look for clues taking with her Ruby Doyle, deceased champion boxer, who Bridie, for some reason,
Sonja Arlow
4.5 stars

Jess Kidd is officially one of my favourite authors. She has the ability to mix dark and quirky into a strange but unique blend.

The story follows Bridie, an anomaly, in an era where women are supposed to be barefoot and pregnant at home. She is a self-made detective assisting the local coppers with investigations, especially when there is a dead corpse rotting somewhere.

Bridie, who favours questionable tobacco at best, cannot always trust what she sees but whether she believes in
Book of the Month
Why I love it
by Dayle Zimmer

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.

In the autumn of 1863 Bridie Devine, female detective extraordinaire, is tasked with finding the six-year-old daughter of a baronet. Problem is, this missing girl is no ordinary child, and collectors of medical curiosities and circus masters alike are interested in acquiring her.

In its early chapters this delightful Victorian pastiche reminded me of a cross between Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, and that comparison played out pretty well in the remainder. Kidd
I have many favorite authors, but few that make me wish that I could write like them. Jess Kidd does just that. I have no aspirations of ever writing a book, but this author's unique, delightful, quirky and humorous writing is so original that it makes me wish for talents I did not even know I wanted.

In this Victorian detective tale, Bridie Devine, a resourceful, pipe-smoking, corpse reading private detective, tries to solve the case of the kidnapping of the daughter of a baronet. Christabel
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, netgalley
When I reached the halfway point in Things in Jars, I deliberately started to ration my reading so I wouldn't finish it too quickly. Now that I'm done reading it, I feel all twitchy hoping for a follow-up soon-soon-soon. Things in Jars is just that good.

Things in Jars offers a delightful historical fiction/mystery/fantasy melange with characters who are utterly real and whose relationships I found myself caring deeply about. Early on, on "detective" Bridie, who does some work for Scotland Yard
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Jess Kidd was brought up in London as part of a large family from county Mayo and has been praised for her unique fictional voice. Her debut, Himself, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards in 2016. She won the Costa Short Story Award the same year. Her second novel, The Hoarder, published as Mr. Flood's Last Resort in the U.S. and Canada was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the ...more
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