“a read out of ‘time’ and ‘place’”
I like my books two ways; the quick enjoyable read that leaves you breathless and satisfied. The second is a book that makes me understand the characters, their places, plot placement and personality. It may take longer to finish the book, but the work as a reader that goes into it is just a satisfying. Himself is of the second type of read for me, rereading some passages in Himself allowed me the satisfaction of not putting the book down as the plot lines and timelines converged.
The book is about a boy (Mahoney) and a girl (Orla), the boy is alive and girl sadly is not; the boy is looking for the girl. Set in Ireland in Mulderigg in the 50’s and the 70’s, it’s the hometown of the girl and birthplace of the boy. The shifting narratives of the past, the present, and the past in the present pull you into each time capsule and at times makes you sad that the author has pulled you out – seemly to make sure you don’t know more than you should at that moment. It’s OK though, because as you adjust to the next capsule of time it takes little effort as the reader before you pulled in that as well.
Mahoney sets off a series of spiritual storms as soon as he enters Mulderigg; the spirits take notice of him from his first step out of the cab that delivers him to Kerrigan’s, the local pub. There is a cast of characters in the story, they really are characters as in Himself, Kidd injects colour into the town through those that have lived and will likely die there. The only people that see Mahoney for what he might become, the great disrupter, are those that came to Mulderigg, not by birth, but by choice. There is Mrs. Cauley, the towns theatre star and Father Quinn, who needs the eccentricities of Mrs. Cauley’s productions for raise money for the parish but would gladly see her and Mahoney run out of his town.
The towns’ folk relish any opportunity to have something more than their daily lives take over their imaginations and their time. Their lives all travel separate paths until Mahoney comes into town and like a storm approaching, no one can be as prepared as they want to be when it hits. Using the vehicle of an annual theatrical presentation that is the only real fundraising event for the local parish church, Mrs. Cauley initiates and runs her investigation in a manner that would make Agatha Christie proud. Mrs. Cauley is determined to find out how Mahoney’s mother disappeared and by whose hands it happened.
The real charm in the story is how Kidd writes and brings the spirits of the dead alive and gives them a freedom of movement that would make the living envious. The writing was lively and I found myself looking forward to reading the next passage that has Mahoney observing with the spirits. Kidd writes for the spirits in a manner that there are no limits to what or how the ghosts could move around and influence Mahoney, for only Mahoney has the privilege of seeing them.
Himself is a very enjoyable read, it’s an escape in time and into magic where the humans and worldly spirits reside, not always peacefully.
Himself is Jess Kidd’s first novel and if you read her bio on www.jesskidd.com, she also ambitious with her second, third and fourth books all in one stage of composition completion. Himself is available in Canada on March 21, 2017 and is published through Simon and Schuster. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Himself.
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