Book Review: Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

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Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
Publisher: Atria Books
Length: 376 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Acquired through LibbyApp
Release Date: April 4, 2019

My Thoughts

When my library’s book club assigned Things In Jars for their April pick, I didn’t know what to expect. I enjoy Historical Fiction, and I was curious about the plot: a talented woman in 19th century London trying to solve the mystery of a missing child.

I didn’t expect to be taken for a wild, emotional ride, but that’s exactly what happened as I was reading this book!

From the start, you know that you’ll be taken on a journey filled with mystery and silence, as female detective Bridie Devine is called on the solve the mystery of Christabel Berwick’s kidnapping. As Bridie’s impeccable sleuthing skills sweep through London’s grittiness and secrets, the layers of Christabel’s disappearance (and Bridie’s roots) are peeled back. What is revealed are shocking truths and Victorian folklore woven together to create a crime rooted through greed.

Things in Jars is equal parts mystery tale and ghost story, as Bridie communicates with a specter named Ruby Doyle (whose ties to Bridie remain equally elusive throughout the novel). Ruby is able to offer guidance from afar, and through his observations we’re able to witness Bridie’s skill as both a collector’s apprentice and a student of medicine.

Things in Jars also describes the ruthless underbelly of 19th Century medicine, and its starkly uneven footing for women trying to break onto the field. The double standard in women trying to succeed in the ‘masculine’ dominated field of medicine is on full display, and Bridie goes to great lengths to hide her identity in order to belong. This fact is not lost on Ruby, who states his truth while accompanying Bridie in one of her missions: ‘Of this, Ruby is sure: nobody belongs here more than Bridie.’

Jess Kidd’s storytelling is riveting in the sense that your imagination takes the shape of the vivid imagery described in every page. The tales of love, sorrow and loss reveal so much, yet leaves out enough for you to color in what happens next, and it’s downright beautiful from beginning to end!

Reading Things In Jars was a wonderful experience, and I enjoyed this story of mystery and folklore. I also loved the fact that a strong female character with her eccentric team was at the forefront of this story!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.


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.

Have you also read Things In Jars? I would love to know your thoughts!

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  1. I added this book to my TBR recently. I’m glad to see such a positive review for it! I might have to read it sooner than I planned.

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