A Novel

Book - 2017
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"[A] fast-paced yarn that nimbly soars above the Irish crime fiction genre Kidd clearly knows very well." -- New York Times Book Review

"[A] supernaturally skillful debut." -- Vanity Fair

"A delicious, gratifying and ageless story." -- New York Journal of Books

Abandoned on the steps of an orphanage as an infant, Dublin charmer Mahony assumed all his life that his mother had simply given him up. But when he receives a tip one night at the bar suggesting that foul play may have led to the disappearance of his mother, he decides to return to the rural Irish village where he was born to learn what really happened twenty-six years earlier.

From the moment he sets foot in Mulderrig, Mahony's presence turns the village upside down. His uncannily familiar face and outsider's ways cause a stir among the locals, who receive him with a mixture of curiosity (the men), excitement (the women), and suspicion (the pious). It seems that his mother, Orla Sweeney, had left quite an impression on this little town--dearly beloved to some, a scourge and a menace to others. But who would have had reason to get rid of her for good?

Determined to find answers, Mahony solicits the help of brash pot-stirrer and retired actress Mrs. Cauley, and the two concoct an ingenious plan to get the town talking, aided and abetted by a cast of eccentric characters, some from beyond the grave. What begins as a personal mission gradually becomes a quiet revolution: a young man and his town uniting against corruption of power, against those who seek to freeze their small worlds in time, to quash the sinister tides of progress and modernity come hell or high water. But what those people seem to forget is that Mahony has the dead on his side....

Centering on a small town rife with secrets and propelled by a twisting-and-turning plot, Himself is a gem of a book, a darkly comic mystery, and a beautiful tribute to the magic of language, legacy, and storytelling.
Publisher: New York : Atria Books, 2017.
Edition: First Atria Books hardcover edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781501145179
Branch Call Number: FIC Kidd
Characteristics: 375 pages


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Jul 15, 2018

A delightful book with wonderful use of language and a vivid line up of extraordinary characters. Highly recommended. Also very funny.

Jan 28, 2018

This was a well written, poetically phrased and intriguing book. It kept me engaged and guessing for the most part ( though I wasn't floored by the "whodunnit" ending).

Despite the humour & whimsy, it was a bit of a quirky, dark read. Ghosts and supernatural occurrences popped into the story line--a genre bending thing. I loved her writing style even if I didn't quite "get it" at times...and since I'm not a lover of the dark, gory (ghost) descriptions, I could pass on those as well. That said, it is an overall good story.

Oct 04, 2017

Jess Kidd has hit the mark with her debut novel. This is Irish story telling at it's best. Complete with a cauldron of hobgoblins, foul fiends, faeries, pagan symbolism, the iron fisted long (and often corrupt) arm of the Church, police corruption, murder and mayhem, etc. The profanity, even with it's Celtic lilt was overused and was a bit much, as duly noted in another review of this book. Therefore I would recommend this book for a mature audience. Think Miss Marple meets Beetlejuice. If your not familiar with small Irish village colloquialism you may have a hard time getting through the book.

Jul 17, 2017

This is such an incredibly good debut novel. Set in Ireland, the authors uses rich, layered language as she mixes mystery, ghosts, and the power and judgement of the catholic church to dictate "proper" behavior for women, and the consequences of these judgements. I highly recommend!

Jun 15, 2017

I enjoyed 'Himself' by Jess Kidd. An orphaned outsider seeks to find answers about his missing mother in a small isolated Irish town. Everyone knows everyone. Yet, by the end of the story, they must all question how much they really know anyone. The outsider has special talents and gifts. He's handsome, well spoken, and he can see and talk to ghosts. He is soon wondering why so many ghosts seemed to die violently. It's a good story by an entertaining writer.

Jun 08, 2017

Mildly entertaining but ruined by her overuse of "shite" "feck" and farting descriptions. Bleah.

May 31, 2017

Written very much in what I would call the "Irish style" this is a good story. There's a generous mix of nasty characters, dead people/ghosts and good-hearted individuals to keep the story moving along. The ending isn't too surprising but satisfying none-the-less.

May 30, 2017

Jess Kidd's debut novel 'Himself' is quintessentially Irish. Raised in an orphanage, the charming Mahony learns that he was born in Mayo County in a village. He ventured there to find his past, absolve his mother of any guilt, and punish evildoers. He is helped not only by some current residents but paranormal visitors from the past. All in all his foray makes for interesting reading.

Apr 16, 2017

What is not to love about this quintesenntial Irish novel, part magical realism, part murder mystery, part comedy of manners. "protagonist receives an anonymous note suggesting that foul play may have led to his mother's disappearance, he sees only one option: to return to the rural Irish village where he was born and find out what really happened twenty-six years ago."

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