At best she had viewed poor Lydia as a dress-up doll, at worst an inconvenience, like February or indigestion.
Thank you Netgalley and Atria for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! A female sleuth that isn’t being marketed as somehow related to Sherlock is a great way to get my attention. Victorian Gothic? Ghosts? Sign me up! Content warning for dog death.
Things in Jars
Published Date: February 4, 2020
Read Date: February 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction, Gothic, Mystery
Rating: 3/5 Moose
Bridget “Bridie” Devine, an Irish female detective, has been hired to find a kidnapped child who is also the secret daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick. What’s more, this child may or may not have the ability to kill people with her powers. But that’s okay as Bridie is accompanied by her seven-foot tall former circus performing housemaid and a deceased boxer who seems to know Bridie even though she has no idea who he is.
What seems like a straightforward mystery has Bridie reliving some of the darkest days of her past, a past that she thought she had buried long ago.
Rants, Raves, and Reviews
I’ll be honest, I didn’t love this book like I thought I would. This book is marketed as a Gothic mystery that has folklore and fairy tales and GHOST. And occasionally it made me laugh too! But overall this book fell flat for me.
We are introduced to Bridie as she’s in her thirties. She’s a well known detective, who recently had a case where she failed to find a child. This might be part of my disconnect with the book — while we do get some of Bridie’s background, this book reads a bit like it’s in the middle of a series rather than a stand alone novel. I’m not saying I need a book to be an introduction/or a book about their first case or how they became a detective, but usually when they aren’t, there is a surrogate for the audience to come along for the ride. Sherlock was already known for being a detective; Watson was our surrogate as we stepped into the world. Without that character, I felt frequently like I was trying to catch up rather than enjoy the ride.
And really, this should be a straightforward ride. We figure out fairly quickly who kidnapped the kid; in fact Bridie basically knows who has the kid almost immediately after she’s presented the case. The question for Bridie most of the book is where is the child, and who are these other dead bodies that are starting to pile up?
There is also something about the way this book tries to blend in the supernatural and folklore that just doesn’t work for me. I like Ruby the ghost and the mystery surrounding who is he, though the resolution left me wanting more. I think that’s just my take away from this book — I constantly wanted more. It didn’t quite reach the atmospheric, Gothic feel that was promised. It didn’t lean enough into the supernatural or lean towards the fact that the supernatural was a hoax.
That being said, I was strangely compelled to finish the book. I liked Bridie, and I really liked the flashbacks and learning about her childhood and how she, as a woman, became so medically inclined and brilliant. And while I don’t mesh with Kidd’s book, I like and appreciate her writing.
Honestly, I think I’m more an outlier when it comes to this book. It’s leaving me scratching my head a good bit as to why I didn’t love it, even though I did enjoy it. So this is one of those cases where I’m going to say if anything about Gothic, Victorian mermaids sounds interesting to you then give this book a shot, even if you tend to agree with me on books!