Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum's Reviews > Things in Jars

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
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really liked it

London 1863 and Christabel Berwick - a girl of striking appearance and unnatural powers - has been kidnapped. Investigating the kidnapping is our protagonist Mrs Bridie Devine, a pipe-smoking redheaded domestic investigator who also conducts minor surgical procedures.

This detective novel takes us into the seedier corners of Victorian London and the lives of nefarious doctors, anatomists and their collections of curiosities and a travelling circus renowned for showcasing the strange and wonderful.

The city of London is expertly described:
"But for now, the slums are as they have always been: as warm and lively as a blanket full of lice." Page 25

"Follow the fulsome fumes from the tanners and the reek from the brewery, butterscotch rotten, drifting across Seven Dials. Keep on past the mothballs at the cheap tailor's and turn left at the singed silk of the maddened hatter. Just beyond you'll detect the unwashed crotch of the overworked prostitute and the Christian sweat of the charwoman. On every inhale a shifting scale of onions and scalded milk, chrysanthemums and spiced apple, broiled meat and wet straw, and the sudden stench of the Thames as the wind changes direction and blows up the knotted backstreets." Page 25

As you can see, the writing in Things In Jars by Jess Kidd is superb. At one point she describes a character as having resplendent whiskers and I thought yes! Her writing is just that: resplendent. I paused often to enjoy a sentence or particular description which seemed effortless yet poignant and often quite funny. My mind was buzzing with sheer joy at her turn of phrase and the story became a mere byproduct.

Bridie Devine enjoys smoking Prudhoe's Bronchial Balsam Blend despite the possible side effects:
"But the list is long and includes many adverse reactions, from sweating of the eyeballs to sensitivity to accordion music." Page 14

It was difficult to rate Things In Jars by Jess Kidd; the writing was divine (see what I did there?) and definitely worthy of 5 stars however the story wasn't anywhere near as faultless, earning 3 stars.

As much as it pains me, I give this gothic historical fiction detective novel 4 stars. Highly recommended.

* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin *
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Reading Progress

May 8, 2019 – Shelved
May 8, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
November 22, 2019 – Started Reading
November 22, 2019 –
page 51
November 23, 2019 –
page 102
November 24, 2019 –
page 136
November 26, 2019 –
page 174
November 27, 2019 –
page 229
November 28, 2019 –
page 272
November 29, 2019 –
page 318
November 30, 2019 –
page 404
December 1, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Sharon Great review! Totally agree about the writing - I'm going to read her backlist soon because I enjoyed it so much.

Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum Sharon wrote: "Great review! Totally agree about the writing - I'm going to read her backlist soon because I enjoyed it so much."

Thanks Sharon, I enjoyed The Hoarder so hopefully you'll enjoy that too. It also has a little supernatural flair :-)

Sharon Perfect!

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