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Review: Himself


Title: Himself
Author: Jess Kidd
Genre: Mystery & Detective, Paranormal
Page Count: 374
Published by: Washington Square Press
Date Published: March 21, 2017
You can find it here: Bookshop.org


It’s 1976 and Mahony is returning to the small Irish village in which he was born to finally solve the mystery behind his mother’s disappearance and his abandonment at an orphanage when he was a baby.

After being delivered a mysterious letter from a nun, Mahony learns his true name is Francis Sweeny, his mother was Orla Sweeny, and that the “curse of the town” of Mulderrig took her from him.

Mahony’s arrival in Mulderrig is met with a mixture of curiosity and open hostility. Those who don’t trust outsiders, those who want to forget the past, and those who are fascinated by this handsome stranger. He stirs up not only the local residents but also the local ghosts, because Mahony has an interesting ability … he can see and communicate with the dead.

With their help and the help of some eccentric brazen women, Mahony is determined to solve the mystery (murder?) of his mother.


Let’s Talk The Literary Smash-up:

One of my favourite things is authors that can take a bunch of genres, smash them altogether and do so brilliantly. Jess Kidd has combined classic elements of mystery with paranormal thriller, historical fiction with heartfelt characters seeking growth and redemption, and just laugh-out-loud humour. The story clips along at an excellent pace (the audiobook is fantastic as well) combining tenderness with violence, humour with horror, and just an all around satisfying read. I can’t believe this was a debut novel. It was so expertly told and this is one mystery/thriller whose enjoyment is not dependant upon the whodunit aspect.

Let’s Talk The Women:

I really enjoyed Mahony as the main character but he really just served as a sounding board for the excellent side ladies that surrounded him. From the eccentric old Mrs. Cauley, the bald retired actress who lives in the rotting library of a manor surrounded by books and wigs to the outspoken, take no prisoners, tough-as-nails Bridget Doosey and the soft yet strong, steady Shauna who keeps everything running. These women were so interesting in their own rights and such a pleasure to read.

Let’s Talk Some Content Warnings:

I really hesitate to give content warnings because I never want to scare people away from an excellent read but there are some pretty heavy topics and tough scenes in this book. I have a very weak stomach for violence and am easily disturbed and did fine through this story. But there are references to sexual assault, graphic violence, and a tough to take animal abuse scene.

Overall Thoughts:

It is amazing to me that this is a debut novel, because it is so well polished, paced and executed. I’m definitely not a big fan of crime, mystery, thriller, or horror genres but somehow Jess Kidd delivered an exceptionally interesting, incredibly funny, paranormal whodunit that had me riveted. I listened to this as an audiobook and the Irish narrator really brought home such an authentic Irish experience, definitely escalating the humour that is so brilliantly balanced with the intensity of the narrative. While Mahony is a fine central character, it is the brazen, eccentric women that surround him and champion his journey that really shine.

{I enjoyed this odd little story immensely but do feel it comes with a host of content warnings including graphic violence, sexual assault (referred to) and a pretty tough animal abuse scene. I will say, I am very easily disturbed and I did just fine with this story, but I do want to provide these just in case.}

TBR Ranking: High

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