Audiobook Review Blog Post Book Reviews Editorial

Things in Jars ― Jess Kidd ―“Women should have the uncontested right to enter the medical profession, being, as a general rule, notably less stupid than men.”

“In a modern Victorian mystery, Jess Kidd blends in her story multiple curiosities and facts of one of the richest literary eras in the world. Perfect for lovers of Victorian Literature and expert in Ghotic writing.”

Inkish Kingdoms

From college, I developed an intense liking of the Gothic and Victorian. Between English literature and American literature, I prefer by far the English one. A professor, which I love, had a Ph.D. in Gothic studies and has published so many books on the topic that I couldn’t not fall in love with her. She taught me so much, and we had some books before meeting her in common. I was her student for one year and a half, and with my expertise, I can testify that this book is simply a fan service for those that know about the era.

The Victorian’s were secretive and uncanny with their customs and likes. Their architecture was so particular to their lifestyle and “moral” believes. The rich were able to be reacher by commerce, and they had the liberty of spending their money on the most eccentric objects. They had this affinity to collect weird articles, and they were obsessed with freak shows. Not only Bridget, the main character, was trying to solve a mystery, but also the presence of freakshows and “freaks” were plot drivers of the novel. I want to add that crime-solving mystery novels were in vogue together with the sessional genre that expanded on the market together with the penny dreadfuls, which many people use to make a living.

I saw in one of my trips an actual specimen of the Fiji/feejee mermaid and the hoax of its existence, so when the author mentioned this object – half monkey half salmon – I was able to see it so vividly and prove that this is true. The many ideas of monsters and mythical animals that flooded the seas were drivers of many collectors and stories of interest. In addition to these fun facts, Jess uses her time to mention some of the well-known economic, social, and genre problems of the time. For example, the main character was unable to become a doctor, and she depended on getting married to have some future in medicine because otherwise, it would be pointless. The mudlarks who were kids that flooded the Thames looking for scrap to sell and that make a living, barely, of the trash that ended in the river. 

All this and more make this story more believable and added so much value, and shows the intense study the author went through to write this book. Jess also, in my opinion, did a great job with the framing of stories to add complexity to the crime plot since she took the reader little by little into its climax. Although this was great, I lost a bit of my interest by 70% into the novel. Ruby’s existence, purpose, and mystery resolution lacked force on its own. However, the weak explanation of this character gave light to Bridget’s origins – an Irland immigrant that might explain why she immigrated alone and as an object – another of the Victorian prejudice over the Irish. Sadly, this specific character was useful until the very end, and I honestly don’t know who he was.

Overall is an entertaining novel that I will recommend the readers to try it with both book and audiobook to help you move the story. Remember that if you get the ebook, you can get the audiobook for way less!

things in jars book review

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