Things In Jars By Jess Kidd – A Review

Publisher: Canongate

Publication Date: April 2019

Oh my goodness where to start?!….

Things In Jars by Jess Kidd is the book I boldly awarded 6 stars to after I’d finished it. 6 stars Mand? Why that’s madness! All good book bloggers know that the star rating system is 1 to 5 and that’s that! But who says so? Who says we can’t break the rules once in a while? Let me tell you, this book is a book to break the rules for and then some!

Before being lucky enough to get my hands on the proof of Things In Jars, I had read and loved The Hoarder also by Jess Kidd. Knowing as I did, Jess’s writing style and talent for weaving magical stories I was excited before I even opened this book.

When I received it I immediately bumped it to the top of my TBR because I’m an impatient kinda gal and delayed gratification be damned! I read the prologue in bed one night and immediately tweeted that it was probably the most perfect prologue I had ever read. A bold statement that I still stand staunchly by. In fact, since finishing the book I have been back over the prologue and read it again a couple of times, just for my own pleasure and to be honest I’m not a huge re-reader.

In Things With Jars we meet our protagonist (and all round kick-ass heroine!) Bridie Devine (what a name!). London in the late 1800’s and Bridie, somewhat of a detective, takes up the case of missing little girl Christabel Berwick, daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick.

Christabel is no ordinary child and seems to have an irresistible value to certain underhand swarthy characters. Bridie must figure out exactly who Christabel is and why she is so sought after by the dark underworld of curiosity hunters, anatomists, ressurectionists and the like. Along with her various allies and contacts, Bridie sets out to crack the case and rescue Christabel, a girl with a price on her head.

I won’t tell you too much about the plot as that would be to do you all a disservice. This absolute treat of a book needs to be discovered and revelled in for yourself.

I can of course tell you about the characters, and my goodness we are presented with such a rich and varied array of them! They are so expertly written that they leap out of the book. So vivid and entertaining! What I love about this book is that even the smaller ‘bit part’ characters such as prison guards are so full of life that even they stick out in your mind. The little humorous exchanges, the perfectly scripted dialogue! I could just harp on and on about it! But I won’t, you’ll just have to trust me on this!

Bridie is probably one of my most favourite female protagonists in any book I’ve ever read. Another bold statement I know! She is pragmatic, methodical, brave, fearless and willing to do anything to find answers. She’s shrewd, gutsy, sharp, intelligent and just……..well she’s just AWESOME!

As with Jess Kidd’s other two novels The Hoarder and Himself, there is a supernatural element. In this case Bridie can see a certain ghost, Ruby Doyle who very much becomes her sidekick in the investigation. A much loved sidekick I might add who Bridie has an extremely strong bond with.

Bridie has a 7 foot maid called Cora with mutton chops……yes you read that right….I mean COME ON! These characters are just THE BEST bunch of people who compliment each other perfectly!

On the dark side, (and there is a very dark side!) the characters are just as vivid and rich but in a thoroughly dastardly way! I absolutely adore a character who is vile but so fascinating. In this book there are a few, my favourite being Mrs Bibby who treats everyone with contempt and has a real evil streak running right through the heart of her.  A woman who I absolutely loved to hate, she had quite an acerbic tongue in the most entertaining of ways. Not a woman you could forget in a hurry!

Jess is such a talented writer and one I know I will devour everything she creates.  And ‘create’ she does.  She weaves stand out magical stories which take you in right from the opening page.  She crafts characters, the calibre of which I don’t think I’ve ever encountered before.  Be they good hearted or the wickedest of the wicked, they will always remain with you in glorious detail in your minds eye.

On finishing this book I missed the characters contained within it and felt a little twinge of jealousy at the people who now get to read it for the first time. I hate that (but also love that, a true sign of a great book!).

As I mentioned earlier, I have read and loved The Hoarder, but now I have also picked up Jess Kidd’s first novel, Himself, and I am reticent to start it because I know once I’ve read it i’ll have to sit around twiddling my thumbs until Jess writes another book! I’m keeping Himself in reserve for now!

On that note, I also feel I need to mention that I really hope we see Bridie again in a future book of Jess’s! I think she has more stories to tell and more adventures to be had.  Hint hint Jess!

I honestly cannot recommend this book highly enough. I think I might have got on people’s nerves wanging on about it all over Twitter but when a book takes my heart like Things In Jars has, its very difficult to keep your enthusiasm contained. I’ve loved seeing the tweets from people discovering the complete joy of this book for the first time. The overwhelming and resounding reaction has been one of such positivity. Jess’s writing is held in such high regard and rightly so! I’ve seen people commenting that they simply had to go back and re-read sections of prose and I completely understand why. I’ve found myself flicking through my proof and reading random sections to myself just to be back in Bridie’s London once again.

An absolute triumph and a book I will always champion.

Thank you Jess for arranging for me to have a proof copy. It has been a much treasured reading experience.

I’ll leave you all with this thought….


See you all soon.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xx

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