6 Sept 2020


ISBN 978-1786893772



London, 1863. 

A strange puzzle has reached Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age. To recover a stolen child, Bridie must enter the dark world of medical curiosities. The public love a spectacle and this child may well prove the most remarkable spectacle London has ever seen. - BACK COVER BLURB

As pale as a grave grub, she's an eyeful. - FIRST SENTENCE, Prologue

Earlier, Mrs Bibby, demonic from the pain in her leg and the effort of feeding the child (wedged as the big woman was in the vestry cupboard), had snatched the headless newt the child was playing with. Shehad thrown it away, and called Christabel a godless little heathen.

Christabel screamed. It was a scream loud enough to shatter the church windows and loosen the roof tiles and crumble the font and melt the candles on the altar. - MEMORABLE MOMENT, Page 104

MY THOUGHTS ...  With folklore/mythology from many different cultures, ghosts, collectors who seek out living anomalies in order to preserve them in jars, wonderfully atmospheric and gloriously Gothic, BIG characters ... for those who know me, need I say more?

Its no big secrets, characters are my thing. And in particular I like strong, quirky, feisty female characters and believe me when I say there are no end of wonderful woman characters within the pages of Things In Jars.

Of course there's the heroine of the tale (a character I can imagine Helena Bonham Carter ,an actress well known for her roles as larger than life characters, playing if ever the book was to be made into a film) the pipe smoking, male clothing wearing, moustache donning (the latter two only when necessary of course) Bridget “Bridie” Devine who has to be one of my favourite characters of all times.

And then there's Bridie's fiercely loyal, seven foot bearded parlour maid, Cora and Christabel; the six year old daughter of a baronet at the centre of the story who, it having soon becomes apparent is not your typical child, has come to the attention of the unscrupulous traders ... their business? Collecting and trading curiosities of which Christabel is one.

Its a wonder that any of the male characters get a look in and yet I loved Bridie's 'love interest' (or at least one of them, the other is the 'more of this world' Valentine Rose of Scotland Yard. That Ruby Doyle is a boxer may not raise any eyebrows; that he is an amorous ghost, a melancholic one at that, who approaches Bridie despite her declaring (and I quote) 'I'm not in the market for a haunting' just might. That he appears to know her despite her having no recollection of him ... well, that's just one of the mysteries to be uncovered.

And there's more ...

Fanatical anatomists and crooked surgeons; honestly, to say that things In Jars is populated by a gloriously memorable cast of characters is an understatement but then ...

Set in the dark underbelly of Victorian London, where  poverty, disease and corruption are rife and surgery is in its infancy (be warned there are some graphic accounts of by-gone surgical procedures) the world building is every bit as good in a story that sees Bridie unable to rest until she discovers the whereabouts of Christabel ... even if that means her re-visiting a past she'd rather not.

With two distinct time arcs; the main one of which is a deliciously, ahem, 'fishy' mystery (for those of you who aren't clued up on merrows be prepared to learn) set in the present, the other of which takes us back to Bridie's childhood which as you can imagine is, well, different. The two taken together, what can I say?

A marvellously macabre, gloriously Gothic tale written with a wicked sense of wit; unique and utterly beguiling. Please, please tell me that this isn't the last we'll see of Bridie and co.

Often mentioned in the same breath as The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. Each to their own, for me personally though there is no comparison, Things In Jars is by far the superior read.

SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... A Gothic setting, a compelling crime, folklore, the macabre, autopsies combine in a novel with larger than life characters ... its hardly any wonder this is way up there as one of my favourite reads of 2020.

My thanks to Pat for gifting me this book. 

Image result for name felicity 


Brian Joseph said...

This sounds like a really neat combination of elements. It sounds like there may have been some Dickens elements incorporated into the book. There is something about larger then life portrayals of London.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

This sounds like a wild ride of a story! I have another book (Himself) by the author that I'm hoping to read one day soon. I'll keep this one in mind as well. Great review, by the way.

nightwingsraven said...

What you said about the truly
memorable characters, setting
and wit, definitely persuaded
me to add this book to my list.
Thank you for your enthusiastic
and excellent review.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Felicity,

I am really torn, as I am so tempted by that premise and your totally stunning review, but I just know that I probably won't enjoy the story when I actually begin reading.

I guess I just have to accept the limitations of my reading preferences, but this is one review which will stick in my mind for some time to come!

I also particularly like this version of the cover art, it sums up everything you have mentioned in your post and thanks for sharing :)

Yvonne xx

Kelly said...

You totally won me over with this excellent review and guess what.... it's available through my library app!! I have several other spooky books picked out for October, but maybe I can work this one in, too.

Gina said...

Well now, that DOES sound like an eclectic mix, but from your enthusiasm, it works!

Sophia Rose said...

I got a good laugh out of the quotes. I can tell it would be a colorful book to read with all it has going on.

sherry fundin said...

love that cover and it does sounds like one i would enjoy too
sherry @ fundinmental

Melliane said...

Oh this one looks quite good and you made me curious

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

Now this sounds wonderful! I need to add it to my list :)

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I feel like I read mixed things when this first came out, so I'm really happy to see that you loved it. I'm a big fan of characters too, and it sounds like Things in Jars has some memorable ones!!


Literary Feline said...

You make this sound so good! I want to read this now too!