Dear Fellow Reader,
There are times that I admire a book for the imagination of the author. I may not love the story, but I respect that the author could imagine a complicated story full of unbelievable events and pull me into it. Have you ever read a story like that? A story that you keep reading even though it may be completely weird?
Sometime in the past, I read the book Himself by Jess Kidd. Do I remember the book? Not well but I do remember that it was an odd story. I don’t even know why I read it in the first place. Recently, I noticed that Jess Kidd has a new book out. The new book is Things in Jars. I had to wait a couple of months to be able to get it from the library. I just looked and there are still 70 people on the waitlist for the eBook. So, I am not alone. I don’t think I read a description of the story prior to reserving it. (Why would I do something that would make sense like that?)
This story is imaginative. I truly appreciate the creative talent of Jess Kidd. I am blown away by the plot of the book and the things that go on. Please note that if you are not willing to be open to things not known in this world, this is not the book for you. As our protagonist goes to a church to look at bodies that have been holed up in a cupboard, she attracts a ghost who stays with her for most of the book. He is occasionally helpful. His tattoos seem to have a mind of their own and move according the scene. (Yes, you read that right – his tattoos move around.)
The book takes place in 1863 London and in the countryside around London. The main part of the plot is that a child has been stolen and Bridie Devine has been asked to find the child. But it becomes apparent that the child is a bit odd. The servants are not allowed anywhere near the child and the Baron refuses to bring the police into the matter. He also won’t let Bridie see the child’s rooms. A bit odd? The child has pointed teeth like a pike, attracts snails (and eats them) and if she bites a male, he will die. That’s all. Wait, no, that’s not all. She looks like an angel and as she approaches puberty has an unquenchable desire to get to the sea. She does not talk. A woman is then found dead on the Baron’s property. Who was the woman and why was she there?
Bridie determines quite quickly that the “nanny” and the family doctor have taken the girl and Bridie starts hunting them down. She goes to a showman she knows to see if he has been approached to buy the child as an oddity for his show. He has built a decidedly large tank and was advertising a new attraction. And then Bridie’s 7-foot-tall housemaid and the snake charmer find each other. But don’t be detoured by that.
We learn about Bridie Devine during the story. We learn how she left Ireland for England with a man who sells bodies to doctors and scientists. And then was sold to a doctor who had a very jealous and cruel wife and an amoral son.
The plot has many twists and turns. (What can she think of next?) but it comes to a satisfying conclusion. I would suggest this book if you are willing to go on a ride with the author. Everything does work out but you need to be able to go with a suspension of belief.
Thanks for reading!