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  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Different

    Himself is the first book by Jess Kidd so I wasn't sure what to expect. What I found was a book that is hard to quantify. This is a standalone with no cliffhanger. There is violence and magical influences including a lot of ghosts. The book blurb adequately describes the storyline so I'm not going to repeat all of that info here. The author did a good job of explaining Mahony's background, why he came to the village, and eventually the story of his mother. There is a lot of history and secrets between characters in the storyline that keep you guessing what twists and turns will be revealed next. While overall the storyline was okay, I found it difficult to follow. The chapters kept going back and forth between the 1950s and 1970s. I had a hard time keeping track of all the characters in the village, and which ones were alive and which ones were the ghosts. I don't usually judge an author by just one book, and I won't with Jess Kidd. I just hope the next book is easier for me to follow the storyline. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and chose to review it for other readers.
  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Impessive Debut Novel

    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!
  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Storytelling with a magical voice

    You will be spellbound by the writing and captured by the lyrical voice of this Irish tale. A dark and magical experience.
  • 0 person found this review helpful

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    Dont miss this novel!

    For a first novel it is a stuuningly good work. ghosts that fit in sso well you dont give them a second thought. A main character that charms you right off the page! Bravo Miss Kidd and I hope you are hard at work on novel #2!
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    Lyrical and Visual

    I almost didn’t make it past the first sentence of this book, but I am glad I did. The prologue is, fortunately, mercifully short – and with a bit of magical realism at the end, it poses the questions: “Where did he go? What happened to him and his family?” The rest of the book sets out to answer those questions. Mahoney is on a quest, and his destination is the village of Mulderrig in Ireland. He is also a sensitive, so he sees things most other folks don’t see, where “sometimes the details come vivid and stay etched,” and other times they are foggy and faint. Mahoney has other allies, besides those who can’t be seen by everyone, and they are well-drawn and endearing in their own ways. Mahoney also has some powerful enemies – those who do not want him to discover his family or where they are and will do everything they can, even evil, to stop him from discovering what happened to them. This book is definitely magical. It combines realism with a mystery with supernatural and fantasy. I have read all of these genres at one time or another and the combination here works quite well. Jess Kidd’s writing is lyrical at times, literary at times, and very inventive. - Smells “crawl” from their source; - “. . . tree roots nuzzle old bones and finger lost coins”; - “. . . woodworms sing in skirting boards and mice skate in basins”; - “. . . where cats shake their tails through a series of exclamations”; - “. . . as shifty as a fox with a hen in every pocket”. Inventive, visual, funny, and the kinds of phrases that made me stop and think and often chuckle. Is there anyone among us whose head has not experienced this? “She’s put him out like a cat a million times but like a cat he has a habit of slinking back and curling up in the warm corners of her mind.” Writing like this is beyond terrific, even when taken out of context: “Words are capable of flying. They dart through windows, over fences, between bar stools, and across courtyards. They travel rapidly from mouth to ear, from ear to mouth. And as they go, they pick up speed and weight and substance and gravity. Until they land with a scud, take seed, and grow as fast as the unruliest of beanstalks.” Later in the book, the story veered very heavily into the magical/supernatural/fantasy realm and while it didn’t exactly lose me, it did seem to break the immersion a great deal. When realism was restored into the driver’s seat, I was back “at one” with the story again. Despite a couple of weak spots, this book is an interesting synthesis of genres and a fine example of visual, visionary, literary writing and will likely appeal most to those who have a broad range of different genres under their reading belts.
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