Book Reviews, Misc, Netgalley

Book Review: Himself by Jess Kidd

**This book was reviewed for Port Jericho via Netgalley

Kidd’s Himself tells the tale of Mahoney, an orphan come from Dublin to the provincial village of Mulderrig in search of his past and the truth of his mother’s apparent abandonment of him. Mulderrig is a quiet town, harbouring hidden secrets, secrets ready to burst forth and reshape boundaries of mind, heart, and soul. In his quest for the truth, Mahoney acquires a friend and helpmate in the form of Mrs Cauley, an elderly actress who has retired in Mulderrig.

Kidd presents an eccentric cast, and a complex storyline. There is a certain charming mysticism and elements of the supernatural woven throughout. Mahoney himself is gifted with seeing the dead, who respond to his presence by waking more fully. These ghosts, and other spirits of the land help if and when they may.

This story has such beautiful language, it’s enough to bring tears to your eyes at times. As so:

‘Birds spin through the glass air to land on washing lines and survey lawns sprinkled with breakfast crusts.’

The lyrical writing reminded me of the a version of the legend of Cuchulainn I read recently. It is ironic to me that much later, towards the end of the story, mention is made of just this legend.There are inklings of Mahoney as a modern culture hero. He has come to Mulderrig to shake things up, bringing with him new ways of thinking and being. When he leaves, this sleepy little town will not be the same. Mahoney calls to mind Kvothe, from Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingbreaker series.

I cried at the end, once the full truth is known. I think I cried most for the collie, whose innocent trust and loyalty is so horribly betrayed. This is a book I am proud to have on my bookshelves, and will certainly read over and over again.

?????  If you like Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingbreaker series, or Tiffany McDaniels’ The Summer That Melted Everything, you will enjoy Kidd’s richly complex Himself.

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