Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
I read this novel in a day. And it wasn’t because it was practising social distancing and had nowhere to go and nothing to do (ok, maybe that was a smidge of the reason). But mostly it was the kind of novel where I had to put life on hold and just get it read.
Birdie Devine is our main character, and I wish to high heaven that we will see her again soon in another story. She is brash and quirky, brave and highly intelligent. Birdy is a private detective in Victorian England. She is also a “surgeon” that treats “boils, warts, and extractions”. Birdie has been hired by a Barron to find his daughter, Christabel. The Barron, however, doesn’t offer any clues as to what Christabel looks like or the circumstances surrounding the case, making it difficult for Birdie to solve the case. Why does the Barron only offer scant information? Because his daughter is beyond peculiar. The prologue itself explains how Christabel can trap you in a memory merely by looking you in the eye. She is also creepily described as looking both like “a church angel” and “a corpse among the living”.
There is also a second mystery Birdie has to solve, and this one is my favourite of the two. Birdie is haunted by a ghost. Maybe haunted isn’t the word, rather she is accompanied by a ghost, a boxer by the name of Ruby who helps her in her sleuthing. Ruby loves Birdie and tells her that she knows him but will not tell her how she knows him. Discovering this connection is a mystery she must solve on her own.
Things in Jars was a perfect read at the perfect time. It transported me away from the anxiety of current events to a place filled with all sorts of wonderfully odd and interesting characters. It is a story that is funny, captivating and just a wee bit gruesome, a perfect combination if you ask me!