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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  9,152 ratings  ·  1,550 reviews
A charming ne’er-do-well returns to his haunted Irish hometown to uncover the truth about his mother in this “supernaturally skilled debut” (Vanity Fair) and turns the town—and his life—upside down.

Having been abandoned at an orphanage as a baby, Mahony assumed all his life that his mother wanted nothing to do with him. That is, until one night in 1976 while drinking a pin
Hardcover, 358 pages
Published March 14th 2017 by Canongate Books
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Karen I wouldn't give it to a 13yo. If a 13yo chose it, and got past the first page, I wouldn't stop them from reading it, but I would want to make sure tha…moreI wouldn't give it to a 13yo. If a 13yo chose it, and got past the first page, I wouldn't stop them from reading it, but I would want to make sure that kid had good lines of communication with a trusted adult, me or someone else.(less)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  9,152 ratings  ·  1,550 reviews

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This is a beguiling, dark atmospheric and wondrous literary read interwoven with the supernatural and the fantastical. It is a stunning debut from Jess Kidd that draws the reader into what is a spellbinding read. A dark fairytale brimming with folklore, humour and flawless comic touches. For me, it called to mind the talented Kevin Barry and other Irish writers, past and present. The past gives us Orla's story and the present in the 1970s focuses on Mahony, her son. It begins with the murder of ...more
Kevin Ansbro
dead people.

Yowza! Yowza! Yowza!
If ever a book could grab my attention right from the first page, it was this one!
For a very long time, I have yearned for an author like Jess Kidd to appear: the ghosts of Dylan Thomas, Gabriel García Márquez and James Joyce must surely have come to roost in her beautiful, mischievous mind.
This magical, vengeful story reconnected me with my Irishness and might possibly have brought my dear departed mother, Kathleen, scurrying to read it over my shoulder (
Amalia Gkavea
''The dead are like cats, Mahony. You of all people should know that. They don't always come when they're called.''

I added Jess Kidd's book when I first saw its deliciously creepy front cover and the striking title. It had all the right ingredients: Ireland during the 70s, magical realism, dry humour, gothic hints. When the lovely Goodreads Ireland group members chose it for our quarterly read, it was a perfect opportunity for me to start reading. Plus, it came highly recommended by my good
Diane S ☔
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 Magical and delightful, was not at all ready to leave this small Irish town nor these wonderful characters. Mahoney, raised in an orphanage, come to Murdering to uncover the truth about the young mother he never knew. He creates quite a stir with his Byronic good looks, sets hearts a quivering, but not all because many in this place are holding secrets and one is a murderer. He meets some amazing characters, willing to help him with his quest: the old Mrs., Cauley, who was quite a stage sens ...more
Larry H
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

"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?"

Mulderrig is a small Irish village, a Brigadoon of sorts. One spring day in 1976, Mahony arrives in Mul
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is going straight onto my shelf of favourite reads. I think I will put it next to Lincoln in the Bardo because the ghosts inside their pages have so much in common, and because both books just struck a chord in me and made for such great reading.

In Himself we meet Mahoney, 26 years old, charismatic, very good looking and able to charm even ghosts with just a wink. What he does to the female population of Mulderrig, a small town in County Mayo Ireland, is amazing:) I am pretty sure he h
Susanne  Strong
5 Stars.

Bewitching, Mysterious and Whimsical.

“Himself” by Jess is a spellbinding fairytale that intertwines the magical with the supernatural. Its dark whimsy draws you in with its brilliance.

Mahoney returns to Mulderrig, on Ireland’s coast, as it’s the place of his birth. He was raised in an orphanage in Dublin and never knew his mother, having always thought he was abandoned. As a young adult, he is given a photograph of his mother and him and discovers that he wasn’t abandoned after all and
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This is one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read. I already owned it when I was offered Jess Kidd's next book, "Things in Jars," to review. I thought this would be the perfect time to read "Himself" and now I know anytime is the perfect time to read "Himself." What a book! It's got mystery, comedy, magical realism, violence, romance and terrific, memorable characters.

Orphan Mahony has come from Dublin to Mulderrig in County Mayo to try and learn what happened to his mam and who his father
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
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 for this delightful, magical debut!!! I just loved these characters, especially Mahony, who had been raised in an orphanage, comes to the Irish village Muldering from Dublin to find out about his mother's disappearance or death shortly after he was born. ...more
Kimber Silver
Himself started off with a bang and kept me engaged until the very end!

Abandoned in a Dublin orphanage as a baby, Mahony, now aged twenty-six, receives a letter left for him long ago that hints he might not have been abandoned after all.

Returning to the remote coastal town of Mulderrig, in search of the raw truth about his mother, a profoundly complicated past rises and the local ghosts come out to greet him, giving the story an otherworldly spin.

Jess Kidd’s rollicking debut is chock-full of m
”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?”

Mahoney returns to Mulderrig, although he has no memory of being there, it was in Mulderrig he was born. Raised in a Dublin orp
Melissa ~ Bantering Books
So I really want to read Jess Kidd's latest novel, Things in Jars. Like, REALLY want to read it. But I don't have it.


So to hold myself over, I decided to read Kidd's first novel, Himself, instead.

And -- I loved it.


Himself, at its core, is a mystery. But it's also so much more than that.

It's a charming, magical tale-- one that is filled with warmth, humor, and a touch of romance.

Kidd's writing is stellar. She is extremely skilled at capturing the emotion of a scene in
One day, a young Irish man comes sauntering into the town of Mulderrig, and he's on a mission. You see, Mahony, was born in this town but was raised in an orphanage. While living in Dublin, he recently learned that his mother disappeared in this town. The town folk think he's a gobshite. Well, just the men. The women think he's dreamy, handsome with dark eyes and long hair, in need of a bath. Let's just say when he arrives, all h*ll breaks loose.

Most of the town do not want him here. Especially
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars rounded up

A very quirky novel, Jess Kidd has a distinctive style that is difficult to describe. The tone and language were everything in this novel. The humor lightened up what is a serious murder mystery and brought in much needed levity. The language and descriptions oozes charm.

And the characters were delightful! I absolutely loved the scene where books saved a character’s life - it may just be my favorite scene in the entire book, and you will just have to read it to find out how
I think this is a no-go for me. Something about it, though a mystery, though set in Ireland, though occasionally populated with ghosts, just failed to catch my attention. It could be me, certainly. But I'll also throw out there that it just seems a touch... Irish.

I work with a man from Ireland, and it's been more than a bit fascinating to watch how white Americans interact with him. Because Americans aren't shy about claiming Irish heritage (although it's the jocular kind, for whatever that m
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zoeytron by: Larry H
Shelves: public-library
In a forest dark and deep, the murmuring trees keep their own counsel.  They know everything, as do the bees.  Mulderrig, Ireland.  Where sleep conjures dreams of screaming eels and snapping dentures.  Beware of spiteful wells, flying spiders, and meddlesome winds.  Note the creeping shadow who has a taste for religious paraphernalia.  You are about to enter a world of tricky knickers and wigs that tilt askew at alarming angles.  'Be still.  The dead are drawing in.'  The dead, wanting to be see ...more
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
That was a grand reading... Himself is a most magical novel with a perfect mystery behind it. If this is a debut, it is an astounding one and the bar set by the readers for Jess Kid's next books is rather high. I was engrossed by the writing style and the ambience of an Irish town and the woods. ...more
Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
Norma and I were lost in the magical lush coulee with two of our Traveling Sisters reading Himself.  At times we were hidden in the bushes looking over our shoulders for the supernatural who were wanting to find us and tell us their secrets.

Himself starts off dark and violent and left us wanting to stay hidden in those magical bushes to hide from the dark but soon humor is introduced into the story to lighten the darkness of this story. Jess Kidd does a good job balancing the dark with some ligh
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I seem to be on a kick for reading books which take place in Ireland lately. Not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s amusing that after reading The Heart's invisible furies, my mind seemed much more well-put-together for this particular book. The two don’t share much else in common, but honestly, the charm of Irish writing is more than enough to keep me paying attention.

And Kidd definitely knows how to tell a story.

I thought this novel had all the things I like in a book such as Irish f
Elyse  Walters
I appreciate the authors imagination: a child ghost who lost her yo-yo in the forest - the eeriness created- the whimsical dead ensemble- etc. etc.
but too many things going on for me to love-LOVE- it.
The overall message ‘did’ move me: a man digging into himself...needing to see deeper into his own soul.
or - why else would a dead baby come back to life?

Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
For the dead are always close by in a life like Mahoney’s. The dead are drawn to the confused and the unwritten, the damaged, the fractured, to those with big cracks and gaps in their tales, which the dead just yearn to fill. For the dead have secondhand stories to share with you, if you’d only let them get a foot in the door.

Darkly humorous, deviously textured and filled with a cast of quirky characters I won’t soon forget, this novel has an almost mythical quality and it is a helluva of a good
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The novel opens with a prologue in which a man is violently attacking a woman while their son looks on. Love once existed between these two, hands which once lovingly caressed, now smash with force. That strong love now replaced with an equally destructive rage. A rage so powerful that the woman realises that this rage, in the form of the man’s fists pummelling into her head, will take her life. She looks for her baby, but can no longer see, she listens for his cries, but can no longer hear.

Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, debut, 2018, irish
Things are all mysterious and magical in small town Ireland

This book has flashes of The Sixth Sense with main character Mahoney (pronounced MAH-hinny by the narrator of my audiobook) who sees the dead, everywhere he goes.

Unfortunately for him, the only ghost he really wants to see (his mother's), eludes him. Ghosts in this book are like cats - they don't come when they're called. They aren't particularly helpful. They don't uncover crucial clues or whisper murderers’ names, though their p
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"The pipes sing about a land lost, about forgotten honor and wasted bravery. They sing of sedge-edged water and white skies, of the mountains and the sea, of those who are gone and those who never even were." This book was a complete delight. It's a literary mystery, small town social satire and dark comedy with beautiful language (read with a variety of captivating voices by Aiden Kelly, the narrator of the audiobook).

The prologue is set in Mulderrig, Ireland in 1950 and describes the murder of
"Welcome back, son. You've been a long time coming home."

The book begins with a brutal murder, witnessed by the killer, and the victim's infant son. The baby later shows up on the doorstop of a Dublin orphanage. The victim's body is never found. Now, some decades later, a grown man returns to his hometown, and the scene of the crime, to find out exactly what happened to his mother.

. . . Mulderrig is a place like no other. Here the colors are a little bit brighter and the sky is a little bit w
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
4 the stuff of dreams that we are made of stars
You can find my reviews here: https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...

There are times when I would love to live in the mind of an author. This would be one of them.

Take me away to the small Irish village of Mulderrig where much is afoot, some of it dark but some of it fun and whimsical. This village, where a murder took place, where a son searches for his mother, where people are for you or agin you will take you on a sojourn to a place where mag
Diana | Book of Secrets
HIMSELF is one of the most unusual mysteries I've read; the experience was like getting pulled into a vivid 20th century Irish folk tale. Set in the small village of Mulderrig, this wild story alternates between the 1970s and 1940s/50s. Mahony grew up in a Dublin orphanage, with very few clues about his beginning. When he finally gets a lead, 26-year old Mahony travels back to Mulderrig determined to find out what became of this mother, stirring up all kind of chaos in the process. The book is f ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2018
This is a pretty good debut mystery novel set in Ireland in the 50's and 70's. Mahony, a young man who grew up in a Dublin ophanage, returns to a small village in Ireland to find out what happened to his mother. The tale is very atmospheric with delightful writing, memorable and quirky characters and a bit of the supernatural. Mahony, as it turns out, can see and commune (in some fashion) with dead people.

"Himself" lost some points with me in the second half - I started to lose track of all of
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An enchanted adult tale which takes place in 1970s Ireland. A special young man leaves the city of Dublin behind to travel to the village of his birth to ferret out his mother’s killer and bring him to justice.

An intriguingly spellbound read.
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Jess Kidd was brought up in London as part of a large family from county Mayo and has been praised for her unique fictional voice. Her debut, Himself, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards in 2016. She won the Costa Short Story Award the same year. Her second novel, The Hoarder, published as Mr. Flood's Last Resort in the U.S. and Canada was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Y ...more

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