Martin's Must Reads: 'Things in Jars'
“Sir Edmund steels himself daily against forces that lie in wait to punish him for his dark and secret infatuation with unnatural nature. Sir Edmund is a collector, an insatiable, relentless collector, with an interest in anomalies and mutations, aberrations and malformations of life in or around the realm of water. If it swims or paddles or blows bubbles in any way oddly, then he’ll have it killed, stuffed or put in a jar, and brought to his private library.”
I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and that’s a description of one of the characters in Jess Kidd’s mystery novel Things In Jars. Bridie Devine is the detective who is hired by Sir Edmund to find his kidnapped daughter Christabel, a child with unusual qualities that has been locked away in a nursery for five years, a merrow, “fully grown at twelve and lived to be nor more than twenty, when they would dash themselves to death against the sea cliffs. They were said to control the weather, tides, seabirds and all marine and damp-loving life.”
The book is filled with other unusual characters from the seven foot maid to the pugilist ghost (both of whom help Bridie with her investigation) to the evil men who seek to make money off their unusual things in jars. The story alternates between the fall of 1863 when the kidnapping occurs and 1843 when Bridie as a child is sold for a guinea to a doctor who needed a lab assistant.
As the book jacket says, “Blending darkness and light, Things in Jars is a mesmerizing novel that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhuman times.”
If you’re looking for an unusual and well written mythical mystery, then you must read Things In Jars by Jess Kidd.