Thursday, October 12, 2017

Book Review: Himself by Jess Kidd

Himself by Jess Kidd
First published in 2016
373 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5

The Short Of It:

A genre-blending novel that was rather different than I expected but ultimately enjoyable.

The Long Of It:
"Himself" is part mystery, part glimpse into life in a small Irish village, part historical fiction (it's set mostly in the '70s) and part... paranormal story? Magical realism?

Whatever you call it, Mahony sees dead people -- he sees all the priests that ever lived at the parish house, he sees the dead paramour of his elderly friend, he sees the girl who was murdered while playing in the woods, he sees the nun who was kind to him at the Dublin orphanage where he grew up.

What he doesn't see is how exactly he ended up at the orphanage. Who were his parents and why did they give him up? A chance to solve that mystery arrives in the form of a letter and a photograph of an infant Mahony with his mother in the tiny Irish town of Mulderrig.

Mahony arrives there to find that his mother, who was just a teen when she had him, was not particularly well-liked at best, reviled at worst. The townsfolk don't know what happened to Orla Sweeney -- just that one day she vanished. Did she run off? Or was the village wild child forcibly removed? As Mahony shakes up the town and its secrets, he makes some new friends, most notably the amazingly quirky, sharp and geriatric Mrs. Cauley -- whom every reader will surely fall in love with.

While there was indeed some levity thrown in, "Himself" was a pretty dark, eerie, atmospheric story. The overall feel of it reminded me a little bit of "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield, while the quaint-town's-buried-secrets aspect felt slightly reminiscent of J.K. Rowling's "A Causal Vacancy." But taken on the whole, the story was remarkably unique and the plot was only enhanced by Kidd's lovely writing. I do wish we could've gotten to know Mahony just a little bit better, but overall this was a great debut and I'll happily pick up Kidd's next novel!


  1. The Thirteenth Tale is one of my favorites, so thanks for bringing my attention to Himself!

  2. I loved Himself. It definitely deserves more attention that it's gotten.


Thanks for stopping by! Comments make my day, and I read and appreciate every single one!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...