Monday, August 05, 2019

'Things in Jars' by Jess Kidd

5 August 2019

We seem to be living in a golden age for detective/fantasy/science fiction novels set in Victorian England. I’ve written here recently about the ‘Newbury and Hobbes’ series by George Mann (‘The Affinity Bridge’, reviewed here in June 2019) and I’ve just finished reading ‘Things in Jars’ by Jess Kidd (as an unabridged audio book, narrated by Jacqueline Milne). ‘Things in Jars’ is a much more literary work, each sentence beautifully crafted in the manner of a poet. The mystery centres on a missing child but takes us into a world of collectors of scientific curios, weird creatures and circuses. It reminded me of another recent novel of Victoriana, 'The Essex Serpent' by Sarah Perry (reviewed here in September 2016) but ‘Things in Jars’ has the driving plot I longed for in my review of Sarah Perry’s novel. The almost incidental appearance of a ghost assisting the detective also made me think of 'Rivers of London' by Ben Aaronovitch (reviewed here in June 2018). ‘Things in Jars’ is an unusual, compelling thriller and, in Bridie Devine – the flame haired, pipe smoking Irish detective with the ugly hat, Jess Kidd has created a wonderful lead character that deserves a series of novels.



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