The sea rocked asleep, now wakes and answers, a refrain of waves and shale-song. The rain in the sky that is yet to fall, answers; a storm gathers. All the rivers and streams and bogs and lakes and fens and puddles and horse troughs and wishing wells wake and answer, adding their voices: faint and rushing, purling and gurgling, muddy and clear. The child looks up. For the first time she can see the stars! She smiles at them, and the stars look back at her and shiver. Then they begin to burn brighter, with renewed fever, in the deep dark ocean of the sky.
Things in Jars was not at all something I would usually pick, but I am so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone and dived into this dark, gory, Victorian fantasy. I loved the characters, I loved the story, and I loved the details that the author included with respect to the medical establishment…even tho it would be a far stretch to call this “historical” fiction. The atmosphere that Kidd created was tremendous, and I loved that she conjured up settings of London, Liverpool, Dublin and other places without resorting to popular cliches that make Victorian settings such a drab in lesser books.
Despite the squalor, gory details of the scenes, the cruelty displayed, and the general meanness of some of the characters, there was a whole lot of warmth in this story, too, and that made the book for me.
Things in Jars was not perfect, but I really liked it.
As with all terrible, wondrous sights, there is a jolt of shock, then a hypnotic fascination, then the uneasy queasiness, then the whole thing starts again; the desire to look and the desire never to have looked in the first place.