HIMSELF by Jess Kidd: A Disturbing Debut


HIMSELF Audio CoverA Novel
By Jess Kidd
Read by: Aiden Kelly
Simon & Schuster Audio | ISBN 9781508234197 | March 14, 2017
Length: 9 hrs and 47 mins

I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.



“A highly unusual tale set in a highly unusual Irish village full of dark secrets…Lushly imagined, delightfully original, and very, very funny, it hurtles along from the very first page” (M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans).

Having been abandoned on the steps of an orphanage as an infant, lovable car thief and Dublin charmer Mahony assumed all his life that his mother had simply given him up. But when he receives an anonymous note suggesting that foul play may have led to his mother’s disappearance, he sees only one option: to return to the rural Irish village where he was born and find out what really happened twenty-six years ago.

From the moment he sets foot in Mulderrig, Mahony’s presence turns the village upside down. His uncannily familiar face and outsider ways cause a stir among the locals, who receive him with a mixture of excitement (the women), curiosity (the men), and suspicion (the pious).

Determined to uncover the truth about what happened to his mother, Mahony solicits the help of brash anarchist and retired theater actress Mrs. Cauley. This improbable duo concocts an ingenious plan to get the town talking about the day Mahony’s mother disappeared and are aided and abetted by a cast of eccentric characters, both living and dead.

Himself is a simmering mixture—a blend of the natural everyday and the supernatural, folklore and mystery, and a healthy dose of quintessentially Irish humor. The result is a darkly comic crime story in the tradition of a classic Irish trickster tale, complete with a twisting and turning plot, a small-town rife with secrets, and an infectious love of language and storytelling that is a hallmark of the finest Irish writers.


My Take Oblong Shaped
Well, while this book is well-crafted and well-narrated but filled with violence: violence against women, and even more disturbing violence against animals.

Redolent of a landmark play I read in Irish Literature 30 years ago, PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD, this book even has the play occurring within the story as recognition.

This was hard for me to listen to, as filled with institutional evil translating to personal evil and represented as a crime tale.  It is a crime tale, one in which I was kept guessing, and wrong-turning almost to the end. But it is also rather brilliant, culturally nuanced and possibly will go down as a landmark of Irish-themed lit.

Links Blue Horizontal


SIMON AND SCHUSTER: http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Himself/Jess-Kidd/9781508234197

AUDIBLE: http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Himself-Audiobook/B06WRNDBLK/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1492737399&sr=1-1

AUTHOR: http://jesskidd.com/books/