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Himself [Read] ➼ Himself ➹ Jess Kidd – Thomashillier.co.uk Blending strange kindnesses, casual violence and buried secrets an unforgettable debut from a dark new voice in Irish fictionWhen Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland s west coas Blending strange kindnesses, casual violence and buried secrets an unforgettable debut from a dark new voice in Irish fictionWhen Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland s west coast, he brings only a photograph of his long lost mother and a determination to do battle with the village s lies His arrival causes cheeks to flush and arms to fold in disapproval No one in the village living or dead will tell what happened to the teenage mother who abandoned him as a baby, despite Mahony s certainty that than one of them has answers Between Mulderrig s sly priest, its pitiless nurse and the caustic elderly actress throwing herself into her final village play, this beautiful and darkly comic debut novel creates an unforgettable world of mystery, bloody violence and buried secrets.


10 thoughts on “Himself

  1. Paromjit Paromjit says:

    This is a beguiling, dark atmospheric and wondrous literary read interwoven with the supernatural and the fantastical It is a stunning debut from Jess Kidd that draws the reader into what is a spellbinding read A dark fairytale brimming with folklore, humour and flawless comic touches For me, it called to mind the talented Kevin Barry and other Irish writers, past and present The past gives us Orla s story and the present in the 1970s focuses on Mahony, her son It begins with the murder of This is a beguiling, dark atmospheric and wondrous literary read interwoven with the supernatural and the fantastical It is a stunning debut from Jess Kidd that draws the reader into what is a spellbinding read A dark fairytale brimming with folklore, humour and flawless comic touches For me, it called to mind the talented Kevin Barry and other Irish writers, past and present The past gives us Orla s story and the present in the 1970s focuses on Mahony, her son It begins with the murder of teenage single mum, Orla, and when the murderer looks to kill her baby, plants and nature have grown to magically protect the child.Now in his twenties, Mahony rides into Mulderrig, County Mayo, armed with a letter and a photograph he has just received to find out what happened to his mammy Mahony is scruffy, has a devil may care smile that floors every woman he encounters and oozes charm Everywhere he goes, the ghosts of the dead, human and animal, tumble out all around him, on occasion to help him Despite resistance from a village that harbours lies, secrets and a murderer, he is implacable in his determination to discover what happened to his mother He finds himself allied to and protected by a trio of Irish women you would not want to mess with Mrs Cauley, a strong, yet frail and elderly actress with a magical library who insists on investigating Orla s death, has no qualms about shaking things in the village to see what falls out and is not afraid of the danger that lurks Shaunna is Mahony s landlady who falls in love with Mahony and will let harm befall him only over her dead body Bridget was a friend of Orla s, and uses her knowledge and gifts to help Mahony Mrs Cauley directs J M Synge s The Playboy of the Western World with Mahony as the lead to conduct the investigation which sends the village into uproar With poisoned scones, letter bombs, a hypocritical, cunning and loathsome priest, the judgemental evil Widow Farrelly, further murders, Mahony and his cohorts find themselves in danger We find out Orla was a wayward, poverty stricken, promiscuous girl who also had the gift of seeing ghosts who passed on secrets that horrified the villagers This made her a reviled figure, the truth was an evil not to be countenanced To top it all, she had a child out of wedlock The stench of hypocrisy is overwhelming We have a supernatural storm that brings out rats, bats, spiders and badgers as an aid to the search for Orla s body The truth finally emerges Mahony who sees every ghost in town finds that the ghost of his mother eludes him until the end when he does see her.This is a beautifully imagined novel The writing is poetic, lyrical, artistic and sublime The characters are rich, diverse, quixotic, eccentric, and undeniably Irish The story is seamless, complex, endearing and funny Whatcould I ask for An exceptional and talented writer A literary triumph Thanks to Canongate for an ARC


  2. Kevin Ansbro Kevin Ansbro says:

    He sees dead people.Yowza Yowza Yowza If ever a book could grab my attention right from the first page, it was this one For a very long time, I have yearned for an author like Jess Kidd to appear the ghosts of Dylan Thomas, Gabriel Garc a M rquez and James Joyce must surely have come to roost in her beautiful, mischievous mind.This magical, vengeful story reconnected me with my Irishness and might possibly have brought my dear departed mother, Kathleen, scurrying to read it over my shoulder He sees dead people.Yowza Yowza Yowza If ever a book could grab my attention right from the first page, it was this one For a very long time, I have yearned for an author like Jess Kidd to appear the ghosts of Dylan Thomas, Gabriel Garc a M rquez and James Joyce must surely have come to roost in her beautiful, mischievous mind.This magical, vengeful story reconnected me with my Irishness and might possibly have brought my dear departed mother, Kathleen, scurrying to read it over my shoulder she d have loved this too.Mahoney, a libertine hippy with flared trousers you could mop a road with, arrives in the ghost ridden Irish town of Mulderrig shades of Llareggub He has brooding looks and an easy charm men want to be him, women want to be with him.Mahoney is a man on a secret mission, but he has walked into a viper pit of parochial mistrust and murderous secrets By day Mulderrig appears respectable a solid fat ankled mammy dressed in patchworked fields But at night she s gypsied to the nines, beringed and braceleted with fairy forts Author Jess Kidd has an imagination gifted only to the few and writes in my favourite genre of magical realism There really isn t a weak character to be found, and Mahoney s kindred spirit caustic geriatric, Merle Cauley , is an absolute joy to behold.The humour is Guinness dark and spiteful there is a splendid scene towards the end where view spoiler Annie Farrell, the Black Widow, is attempting to smother Mrs Cauley with a pillow, when she is assailed by flying novels from the old lady s magical library A large edition of War and Peace launches the counter attack, knocking her to the floor, where she is set upon by The Complete Works of Jane Austen.Wonderful stuff hide spoiler I felt compelled to dive into this wrathful yet charming story after noticing a host of friends laudatory reviews and I m so pleased I did It was easily the best thing I ve read in ages Kidd s writing is altogether lyrical, bursting with imagery, delightfully irreverent, folkloric and devilishly humorous This, my fellow Goodreaders, is Neil Gaiman for adults I adored it from its dark, intriguing beginning to its heart racing finale.Highly recommended, I LOVED it


  3. Amalia Gavea Amalia Gavea says:

    The dead are like cats, Mahony You of all people should know that They don t always come when they re called I added Jess Kidd s book when I first saw its deliciously creepy front cover and the striking title It had all the right ingredients Ireland during the 70s, magical realism, dry humour, gothic hints When the lovely Goodreads Ireland group members chose it for our quarterly read, it was a perfect opportunity for me to start reading Plus, it came highly recommended by my goodThe dead are like cats, Mahony You of all people should know that They don t always come when they re called I added Jess Kidd s book when I first saw its deliciously creepy front cover and the striking title It had all the right ingredients Ireland during the 70s, magical realism, dry humour, gothic hints When the lovely Goodreads Ireland group members chose it for our quarterly read, it was a perfect opportunity for me to start reading Plus, it came highly recommended by my good friend Maria n Chnoic so whatcould I ask And I can tell you it has been a wonderful trip with an exciting bookHere is a handsome stranger Mahony arrives in Mulderrig in 1976, searching for answers about his parentage, about the disappearance of his mother, seeking justice from the members of the community He is clever, extremely charismatic, attractive, aloof and a torchured soul himself and can you tell I fell in love with him immediately However,he has some demons of his own to fight and, at the same time, a number of significant allies It was the nature of these allies that made me think I was reading a unique kind of bookFor the dead are drawn to those with shattered souls Mahony is a shuttered soul, no matter how hard he tries to hide it, Orla was a shuttered soul, Shauna is troubled too There is this large majority of the people in Mulderring whose lives have been plagued by secrets, sins, hatred and dogmatism The dead demand justice for crimes committed by people with shady lives and motives At the heart of this story lies an institution that is supposed to provide comfort and shelter to those in trouble the Church.The ominous figure of the village priest is a recurring theme in British and Irish Fiction The priest gives sermons about the dangers of superstitions and speaks against the wind of change coming from the cities It is merely the favourite hobby of many members of the clergy who fear progress and the traditions of the pagan past alike He considers Theatre a pagan notion of corruption and disruption and tries to build up his defenses when he understands that Orla has returned for retribution in the face of Mahony.The characters in Himself jump right from the page, both the good and the bad They are realistic depictions of a closely knit society who punishes those who wish to break free from suffocating beliefs and stereotypes Mahony is easily one of the most fascinating characters I ve met recently I confess I am totally and absolutely biased and I regret nothing The fact that Kidd s description of him reminds me slightly of my boyfriend doesn t help but for me, the real star of the story is Mrs Cauley My God, I loved her She is a wonderful character, saucy and sassy and unashamed to put everyone in their place I liked Shauna too She is a calm, level headed, tender soul On the other hand, I hated R is n, she disgusted me to no endThere is a great danger of revealing spoilers with this novel It is a book that flows Short chapters and interactions pass by like a flash and make the story move so quickly, you need to pay your fullest attention in order to absorb everything that is going on The language is simple, but beautiful, it makes you search under the layers to look for motives and answers There are elements of black humour that are able to make you laugh out loud in a story that blends Crime Fiction and Paranormal Mystery in a brilliant way Kidd has created some memorable scenes throughout the narration The introduction of Ida and a nightly storm that brought the Ten Biblical Plagues in mind are particularly powerful moments.I loved this book I loved it as an example of Historical Fiction, of Mystery, of Crime, you name it It is unique, beautiful and oneaddition to all those fascinating books that we have the pleasure to read nowadaysThe night is clear from mountain to sea as Mahony climbs the dark ribbon of road Ahead of him the starlit forest slumbers Behind him the moonlight skims and breaks over the mild skinned water of the bay, which is as still as milk tonight For the wind is lying low, curled into the strong back of the deep sleeping velvet mountainIf that isn t Ireland in a paragraph, I don t know what is


  4. Diane S ☔ Diane S ☔ says:

    4.5 Magical and delightful, was not at all ready to leave this small Irish town nor these wonderful characters Mahoney, raised in an orphanage, come to Murdering to uncover the truth about the young mother he never knew He creates quite a stir with his Byronic good looks, sets hearts a quivering, but not all because many in this place are holding secrets and one is a murderer He meets some amazing characters, willing to help him with his quest the old Mrs., Cauley, who was quite a stage sens 4.5 Magical and delightful, was not at all ready to leave this small Irish town nor these wonderful characters Mahoney, raised in an orphanage, come to Murdering to uncover the truth about the young mother he never knew He creates quite a stir with his Byronic good looks, sets hearts a quivering, but not all because many in this place are holding secrets and one is a murderer He meets some amazing characters, willing to help him with his quest the old Mrs., Cauley, who was quite a stage sensation in her youth and still has vestiges of her bold character, Bridget Doosey, who has talents that are unseen, and the intrepid Shauna, a young women who falls hard to Mahoney.Magical realism, humor, the paranormal all combine in this enchanting story Mahoney has an unforeseen talent, like his mother before him, he can see and talk to ghosts, and his return stirs all the town s residents, living and dead So much humor, I laughed continuously, smiled often Mrs Cauley owes a debt of gratitude to Jane Austen s Collected Works, War and Peace and a few other large tomes, after all books do save lives There is one part of only a few paragraphs that is quite unsavory, concerning a dog and some violence because as I said there is a murderer about and he is bent at not having his secret uncovered.More plot oriented than Lincoln in the Bardo, but if you enjoyed that one you will probably love this one


  5. Larry H Larry H says:

    I d rate this 4.5 stars Mulderrig is a place like no other Here the colors are a little bit brighter and the sky is a little bit wider Here the trees are as old as the mountains and a clear river runs into the sea People are born to live and stay and die here They don t want to go Why would they when all the roads that lead to Mulderrig are downhill so that leaving is uphill all the way Mulderrig is a small Irish village, a Brigadoon of sorts One spring day in 1976, Mahony arrives in Mul I d rate this 4.5 stars Mulderrig is a place like no other Here the colors are a little bit brighter and the sky is a little bit wider Here the trees are as old as the mountains and a clear river runs into the sea People are born to live and stay and die here They don t want to go Why would they when all the roads that lead to Mulderrig are downhill so that leaving is uphill all the way Mulderrig is a small Irish village, a Brigadoon of sorts One spring day in 1976, Mahony arrives in Mulderrig from Dublin, where he has lived all of his life Or most of his life Because just recently, he found out that one of his chief nemeses at the orphanage where he was raised, Sister Veronica, left him an envelope when she died And in this envelope was news which changed his life a picture of him as an infant with his mother, telling him his real name, and that he is from Mulderrig The note also said that his mother was the curse of the town, so they took him from her.For Mahony, who has always been a bit of a rake yet a handsome one and a ne er do well, this is powerful stuff He had believed his mother had abandoned him, but he couldn t understand why, or why she never searched for him So he heads to Mulderrig to try and uncover the truth about what happened to her 26 years ago He has always believed two things, that his mother was dead and that he had known her In order to feel her loss he must have known her presence And he does feel her loss, he always has Which is why he has been searching for her all his life because he had loved her and because he had lost her He d searched but she d never answered. Mahony s return creates quite a stir in Mulderrig for a number of reasons His physical appearance even though he s a bit of an unwashed hippie type and his newness appeal to women of all ages, who react in unusual ways His similarities to his mother quickly raise the ire, suspicion, and guilt of those residents who knew her, and might have had a hand in her circumstances Oh, and his return has also raised the dead, many of whom were alive or around 26 years ago, and only a few people in town, including Mahony, can see and communicate with them.Teaming up with Mrs Cauley, an eccentric former theater actress who likes nothingthan to stir up trouble among Mulderrig s residents, Mahony is determined to uncover the truth about his mother The two concoct a plan to interrogate those who might know something, and hopefully flush out the truth, with the help of some of the town s colorful residents But this scandal ran far and wide through Mulderrig, and the two might be putting themselves and those they care about in danger as they get closer and closer to the truth.This is such a charming, magical book, and as quirky as it is, it s quite emotionally moving as well, as it explores the ideas of loss and grief, of a girl trying to rise above circumstances she has been handed although everyone wants to fight her at every turn, and the rejuvenating power of friendship I know that at its heart, this book is a mystery, but I could have done without its brief foray into actual crime novel territory, even though I understood the point, in showing that even lovely towns like Mulderrig have these types of secrets which many want to remain hidden.While Jess Kidd spent so much time creating the good characters, and they are so tremendously appealing, some of the bad characters don t get the same attention, so they feel a littlelike stereotypical characters than fully realized But the beauty of Kidd s storytelling, and the warmth of this book is wonderful, reminding me a bit of those quirky Irish movies like Waking Ned Devine In tone, not subject matter This is a book which would be absolutely terrific as a movie because there is so much your mind s eye pictures, and it would be great to see that portrayed on screen.If you re looking for a book with a little bit of charm and whimsy along with its terrific story, pick up Jess Kidd s Himself In a literary world of copycats, this feels pretty original in many ways.NetGalley and Atria Books provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review Thanks for making this available See all of my reviews at


  6. Phrynne Phrynne says:

    This book is going straight onto my shelf of favourite reads I think I will put it next to Lincoln in the Bardo because the ghosts inside their pages have so much in common, and because both books just struck a chord in me and made for such great reading.In Himself we meet Mahoney, 26 years old, charismatic, very good looking and able to charm even ghosts with just a wink What he does to the female population of Mulderrig, a small town in County Mayo Ireland, is amazing I am pretty sure he h This book is going straight onto my shelf of favourite reads I think I will put it next to Lincoln in the Bardo because the ghosts inside their pages have so much in common, and because both books just struck a chord in me and made for such great reading.In Himself we meet Mahoney, 26 years old, charismatic, very good looking and able to charm even ghosts with just a wink What he does to the female population of Mulderrig, a small town in County Mayo Ireland, is amazing I am pretty sure he has charmed many of the readers of this book, including me.Jess Kidd writes good characters altogether Mrs Cauley is just wonderful and practically drives the whole book The ghosts are good too, Johnnie with his unfortunate antics, Ida the small girl who tries to help, Miss Mulhearne who gets Mahoney to read her poetry and many others.This is certainly a book of many genres It is described on the cover as a magic realist murder mystery set in rural Ireland I think that just about covers it, although it should be mentioned that it is frequently very funny I loved every magical beautifully written word of it


  7. Susanne Strong Susanne Strong says:

    5 Stars.Bewitching, Mysterious and Whimsical Himself by Jess is a spellbinding fairytale that intertwines the magical with the supernatural Its dark whimsy draws you in with its brilliance.Mahoney returns to Mulderrig, on Ireland s coast, as it s the place of his birth He was raised in an orphanage in Dublin and never knew his mother, having always thought he was abandoned As a young adult, he is given a photograph of his mother and him and discovers that he wasn t abandoned after all and 5 Stars.Bewitching, Mysterious and Whimsical Himself by Jess is a spellbinding fairytale that intertwines the magical with the supernatural Its dark whimsy draws you in with its brilliance.Mahoney returns to Mulderrig, on Ireland s coast, as it s the place of his birth He was raised in an orphanage in Dublin and never knew his mother, having always thought he was abandoned As a young adult, he is given a photograph of his mother and him and discovers that he wasn t abandoned after all and thus sets out to Mulderrig to search for answers There he findsthan he bargained for.For Mulderrig is a place where secrets run amok and stay hidden forever And the town folks They are friendly to newcomers that is, until they realize who Mahoney is and what he is after Yet Mahoney is a charmer, swoon worthy even The smile, the scruffiness, the charm And he has a gift He can see and speak to ghosts of the past, some of whom are happy to help with his plight, while others are simply afraid of him.When investigating what happened to his mother, Orla, Mahoney also gets help from some pretty incredible friends Ms Cauley, the quirky theatre performer who is wildly entertaining and full of ideas as to how to help Mahoney Bridget Doosey, a woman who knew his mother and has gifts of her own and Shauna, Mahoney s, landlady who will do anything to protect him These women are instrumental in his finding the truth Set in the 1950 s and the 1970 s, Himself is a fairytale of folklore It s endearing, dark, beguiling, and utterly charming to no end In truth, it is not the type of book I would normally read Whimsy, fantastical is not my style but I must say this it pulls the reader in from the first sentence You can t tear your eyes away The prose is absolutely flawless, beautiful even The characters are lovely, comical ensnaring In short, this novel is not to be missed With Himself, Jess Kidd bewitches the reader I, for one, am glad I fell under his spell I hope you will consider doing the same.A big thank you to my GR friend Larry for his fantastic review of Himself which is what convinced me to read this book in the first place Your review was stellar Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and Jess Kidd for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.Published on NetGalley, Goodreads andon 4 16 17


  8. Lori Lori says:

    This is one of the most enjoyable books I ve ever read I already owned it when I was offered Jess Kidd s next book, Things in Jars, to review I thought this would be the perfect time to read Himself and now I know anytime is the perfect time to read Himself What a book It s got mystery, comedy, magical realism, violence, romance and terrific, memorable characters Orphan Mahony has come from Dublin to Mulderrig in County Mayo to try and learn what happened to his mam and who his father This is one of the most enjoyable books I ve ever read I already owned it when I was offered Jess Kidd s next book, Things in Jars, to review I thought this would be the perfect time to read Himself and now I know anytime is the perfect time to read Himself What a book It s got mystery, comedy, magical realism, violence, romance and terrific, memorable characters Orphan Mahony has come from Dublin to Mulderrig in County Mayo to try and learn what happened to his mam and who his father is Mahony sees the dead, takes no crap from anyone, and oh boyo is he sexy The book opens in the forest by the river as Mahony s mom is murdered there While the killer is disposing of her body the forest protects the child, covering him in ferns and ivy, branches and leaves Things like that happen in Mulderrig, a small town not used to strangers, where to many the son of pariah Orla Sweeney is especially unwelcome The town is filled with people with something to hide, some who are canny and charming, others who are bitchy or brutal There are some great minor characters as well as the dead, who make themselves visible to Mahony but never speak And then there s Mrs Cauley, a remarkable creation, an older woman, a former actress with wits and wit and wigs whose books are apt to dance and whirl and maybe knock an eejit in the head She lives at the house where Mahony is boarding and he couldn t have a better friend in Mulderrig, where everyplace plays a part St Patrick s and the pub, the forest and the river, and the play Mrs Cauley puts on every year to benefit the church This year she s chosen a doozy she and Bridget Doosey mean to stir up the sanctimonious and smarmy I hope this is not a cliche as I m not Irish and haven t had the pleasure of visiting Ireland, but Kidd s writing for me has a lilt It s rhythmic and lovely even when she s describing violence and cruelty She s got a great gift and I m enchanted This is a fairy tale for adults and if you ve read the original fairy tales and know how Grimm they can be, you know what I mean Jess Kidd s talent is breathtaking Even at its darkest, Himself is a wonderful, wondrous book I m glad I ve been able to go directly from it to cozily tucking into Things in Jars


  9. Kimber Silver Kimber Silver says:

    Himself started off with a bang and kept me engaged until the very end Abandoned in a Dublin orphanage as a baby, Mahony, now aged twenty six, receives a letter left for him long ago that hints he might not have been abandoned after all Returning to the remote coastal town of Mulderrig, in search of the raw truth about his mother, a profoundly complicated past rises and the local ghosts come out to greet him, giving the story an otherworldly spin Jess Kidd s rollicking debut is chock full of m Himself started off with a bang and kept me engaged until the very end Abandoned in a Dublin orphanage as a baby, Mahony, now aged twenty six, receives a letter left for him long ago that hints he might not have been abandoned after all Returning to the remote coastal town of Mulderrig, in search of the raw truth about his mother, a profoundly complicated past rises and the local ghosts come out to greet him, giving the story an otherworldly spin Jess Kidd s rollicking debut is chock full of magical realism, Irish folklore, and devilish humor, with a bit of romance adding the cherry on top The characters are well thought out and Kidd s writing is intriguing I found myself cheering on Mahony and his band of lovely ladies as they unwind the layers of lies and deceit surrounding the mystery of his, and his mother s, disappearance from Mulderrig.I thoroughly enjoyed Himself, with its many twists and turns and recommend this to anyone who enjoys a great mystery allied with supernatural elements


  10. Karen Karen says:

    4.5 for this delightful, magical debut I just loved these characters, especially Mahony, who had been raised in an orphanage, comes to the Irish village Muldering from Dublin to find out about his mother s disappearance or death shortly after he was born.


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