What I'm Reading
A Victorian detective, an abducted child, a bearded lady, a ghost, tattoos that move, deformed mermaids, cruelty, deprivation, circus freaks, things in jars.
This is a witty yet disturbing book about an eccentric pipe-smoking woman detective. It perfectly captures the essence of Victorian curiosities, with bizarre corruptions of nature kept in jars, old houses with intricate layouts, secret rooms and locked doors. Gothic mystery and romance, ghostly spookiness. Great stuff.
There is horror aplenty in terms of the conditions and treatment of children in Victorian times, and the medical surgeons who go to any lengths to serve their scientific advancement. The story shows how the poor and vulnerable are utilised as commodities to be bought and sold as used as the owners see fit.
Added to that, the author has an original style and captures the atmosphere without relying on tired old cliches. There are some wonderfully eccentric phrases, such as: "People are no more than punctuation from above” and "...as inconsiderate as February or indigestion." "The only downfall is that sometimes the point of view switches between paragraphs, which is a little disconcerting, a minor issue as it is generally easy to follow. Investigating missing children is nothing new in the literary world, but Jess Kidd has made it unique in her own innovative way.
Things in Jars is published by Canongate Books.
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.