Himself by Jess Kidd (4 Stars)

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

This certainly was an unusual book, which I enjoyed immensely.  It’s a tale set in the little Irish village of Mulderrig with a cast of oddball characters.  It’s 1976, and the charming Mahony comes to town in search of his mother, who abandoned him at an orphanage 26 years earlier.  Or did she?  It appears foul play may have been behind his abandonment, and the small village has mixed feelings about his arrival.  The  poetic writing style pulled me in at the beginning, with Kidd’s description of the town:

For 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?

The tale is a blend of sleuthing, paranormal activities, humor and, of course, a love interest for Himself.  While this is Irish storytelling at its best, it is overall a dark tale of violence and some gruesomeness, but perfectly blended with humor and whimsy.  Mahony sees ghosts and, like I said, some images are gruesome.  Yet there is Johnnie, the ghost who never leaves the side of his love, and kisses her cheek softly.  The characters are so well-developed (even the ghosts), they come to life with each turn of the page.

I was impressed by this debut novel, and recommend it highly.  It’s been a while since I’ve read a book this good.  Be forewarned, this is one you really can’t put down once you start!

P.S.  Here is link to a great Irish vocabulary guide:  www.irishcelticjewels.com

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