“Things in Jars” by Jess Kidd

Thanks to Canongate and Netgalley for the Advance Review Copy.

What to say about this book? How does one describe perfection?

“The child looks up. For the first time she can see the stars!

She smiles at them, and the stars look back at her and shiver.

Then they begin to burn brighter, with renewed fever, in the deep dark ocean of the sky.”

This appears in the first few pages. You know when you read writing like this that you are in for a real treat.

Anyhoo, enough gushing. This book follows the wonderful Bridie Devine, an investigator who is tasked with finding a kidnapped child. She is assisted and hindered in her quest by a enigmatic crew of weird and wonderfully described characters. The protaganists are loveable and engaging and the villains are truly rotten and awful.

The story itself is at turns funny, thrilling, touching and mysterious and kept me absolutely enthralled right to the end. Aspects of traditional folklore are woven in to the narrative as well as vivid descriptions of (a version of) Victorian London.

I honestly can’t think of a single criticism to level at it other than being annoyed that Bridie isn’t real and that I can’t quit my job to go and work with her and drink Madeira and smoke some of Prudhoe’s Bronchial Balsam Blend. It’s just perfect really and I’ll be reading the authors other work as a matter of urgency. Do yourself a huge favour and read this book.

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