Jess Kidd – Things in Jars (3 stars)

Jess Kidd – Things in Jars

Costa Award-winning author's Victorian thriller is gilded with humour

The wild and wonderful imagination of Jess Kidd ensures that no story from her pen will be staid. Her latest – Things in Jars, a Victorian mystery crammed with curiosities and exoticisms – may in some ways be very different to Kidd's earlier books (Himself and The Hoarder), but they are linked by a delight in the fantastical.

That said, our hero, detective Bridie Devine, has no truck with the supernatural, even when it's flexing its muscles and showing off its tattoos right in front of her. And she is right to be circumspect, because if there's one lesson we're left with, it's that an excess of curiosity (both of the rubbernecking and sanctified, medical kind) is likely to lead to a series of unfortunate events.

Bridie is hired to find kidnapped child Christabel Berwick and the case is as creepy and unsettling as could be from the very start. Not only is a child's life in peril, but there are tragedies old and new woven throughout the search. Gilded with humour, even the darkest moments have a shine to them and there's always a new chimerical twist to the tale. As with Kidd's previous works, Things in Jars is hard to classify; and that's one of the things that's so delightful about it.

Out Thu 4 Apr on Canongate.

Big Sky: Big Horizons - Jess Kidd

Acclaimed novelist Jess Kidd’s new novel, Things in Jars, is a Victorian detective story exploring what it is to be human in inhumane times. It is a journey back in time, into a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen.

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