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Things in Jars
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forsanolim | 469 comments Set in a magical-realism version of Victorian England, this novel is an atmospheric tale of myth, anatomy, and specimen collecting. Bridie is a sort of private detective who tackles strange or mysterious cases. With her two sidekicks, a seven-foot-tall maid and the ghost of a boxer, she is enlisted by a baronet to investigate and find his missing secret (and reputedly magical) daughter. As she attempts to piece the story together, adventuring around London and beyond, she also must increasingly confront the specters (literal and figurative) of her past.

This was a really interesting book. It was tremendously atmospheric, with rich descriptions of Victorian London and the environments in which the characters find themselves. While I found the discussions of medicine and collecting in Victorian England really fascinating--they were what originally led me to take an interest in this book--I think that there was just a few too many magical and supernatural elements in this book for me to absolutely love it. I really do think, though, that someone with more general interest in/tolerance for magical realism would likely enjoy this book a lot, as the plot and atmosphere were generally compelling, and the story definitely had a number of twists that I hadn't anticipated.

message 2: by NancyJ (new) - added it

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5225 comments I'm picturing a scene in Young Frankenstein, with brains in jars. Igor reads one and thinks it's the brain of Abby Normal.

I think I know what you mean about real (weird) things versus magical. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I enjoy magical realism more, when it's clear which elements are real versus magical.

I heard of a book once - maybe you know it - that explained old medical practices in terms of modern day knowledge. For instance, bloodletting was used because it was helpful for many people, even if they didn't know why. I think it can help reduce blood pressure, or reduce the toxic effects of excess iron or other metals.

message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8524 comments This has been one to watch!

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