by Jess Kidd
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Historical
Find It: Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
Blending strange kindnesses, casual violence and buried secrets: an unforgettable debut from a dark new voice in Irish fiction
When 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 more 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.
“He could forget his own name. Francis Sweeney. After all, it’s a dead name: a name never taken, a life never lived. This town took it from him. He won’t forget that.”
Himself is outside of my usual reading genre’s but the synopsis sounded so fascinating I had to give it a try! This is the story of Mahony, a young man traveling back to the town of his birth, Mulderrig which is a very small town on the Irish Coast. Mahony has always wondered where he came from ever since he was left at an Irish orphanage as an infant. A tip leads him to the small, quiet town in search of his Mother. He begins to uncover many of the towns secrets through it’s very quirky and tight knit community.
Himself takes place in the 70’s, during this time we hear from Mahony’s POV. It then flashes back to the late 40’s and early 50’s where we hear from his Mother’s POV. I enjoyed the views of the past and present and I felt that Mahony’s Mothers POV added a lot to the story. There were so many vibrant and well developed secondary characters in this book, each one added so much life to the story.
I have to say that the Prologue totally hooked me! I was left in shock and gasping for breath after just a few shorts pages! It was pretty eye opening and did an excellent job of piquing my interest immediately! The mystery of what happened to Mahony’s Mother and his uncovering secrets from the town members (both alive and dead) really drove this story and myself to keep reading.
“Be Still. The dead are drawing in. The wring their hands apologetically. They wait for his eyes to open so they can be seen. They only want to be seen.”
There were a lot of creepy and mysterious happenings going on in this book (see above quote for example) it definitely added a lot of intrigue to the book and the creep factor made it a lot more interesting! I can’t say much without giving it away but I will just say that the dead came out in full force in this book and were characters of their own.
At times I was a little frustrated with the wordiness of the book and wanted some action to happen, but there was always something intriguing going on! Mahony was a bit of a ladies man, I struggled with the relationships he formed with some of the women. Although, I think that really was the way of things at the time.
Himself was so beautifully written, Jess Kidd wrote this in such a way that it felt like an old Irish folk tale.There was such a blend of the paranormal and old town charm that made it totally unique! It was somehow beautiful and creepy at the same time and I found myself so wrapped up in the story eager to see what happened next. This was her debut novel and I am curious to see what she will write next!
“Mahony puts roses in each room before he leaves. So that if his Mother ever returns there will be light in the darkest corners of their shattered home. The dead nod and watch. Several smile, but not unkindly.”
Have you read Himself?
What do you think of books where the story switches from past to present?