Himself by Jess Kidd
by Amy Pirt
It is a tremendous privilege to review the wonderful Himself on publication day. And what better time to discover this fantastic debut, immersed as it is in the dead and a forest borrowed from the Brothers Grimm, than a dark autumn evening?
The story begins in that same forest in 1950 and then fast forwards to 1976, just like two other wonderful recent novels, Maggie O’Farrell’s Instructions For a Heatwave and Joanna Cannon’s The Trouble With Goats and Sheep. Furthermore, like those two novels, there is a mystery to be solved. The mystery relates to the parenthood of one Mahony, who arrives dirty and hippyish from the streets of Dublin with only a note and a photo as proof of his origins. The villagers are adamant that Orla Sweeney departed Mulderrig twenty six years ago in the direction of Ennismore, and they will hear no more about one who, with her brazen ways, was so unpopular. But Mahony and the eccentric old Mrs Cauley believe differently. What happened to Orla? Did she leave Mulderrig alive? And if not, who killed her?
Himself is a truly stunning debut. Kidd’s writing is humorous and delightful; it’s original whilst still maintaining that beautiful Irish intonation. If you like Angela Carter and Roddy Doyle, you will love this.