Monday 24 May 2021

Things in Jars


I opened this one because I thought it sounded interesting:

Bridie Devine—female detective extraordinaire—is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.

Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.

Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.

I think I'm a little bit in love.

Wow, can Jess Kidd write. It's sumptuously descriptive and intoxicatingly poetic. I haven't fallen for prose this hard since The Binding. One of those writers that makes you go, damn, wish I'd done that.

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. Above all, you may notice the rich and sickening chorus of shit.


The raven turns in her element and the world turns too, confirming what she already knew: she is the centre of everything.


Sir Edmund’s home is an architectural grotesque, the ornate facade the unlikely union of a warship and a wedding cake. A riot of musket loops, carved shells, liquorice-twist chimneys, mock battlements, a first-floor prow, and an exuberance of portholes. On the carved stone pediment above the wide front door Neptune cavorts with sea nymphs. The lower-floor windows are festooned with theatrical swags of stone starfish and scallop shells. For all this, the house looks unlived in.

The description of the shifting tattoos on Ruby Doyle's body is just beautiful.

I love everything about the way she writes, and the narration of the audiobook by Jacqueline Milne was just brilliant. She really made the sleazy and the creepy characters come to life. It's a dark modern-Gothic mystery treat. 

No comments:

Post a Comment