In 1976, handsome, charismatic Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a village like no other, searching for clues about his mother, Orla Sweeney. Did she run away after abandoning him at an orphanage in 1950, or did she meet a worse fate? Mahony fears the latter and finds an ally in Mrs. Cauley, a "twisted old woman" who rises to any challenge. Not unlike Hamlet, the two stage a play in hopes of flushing out Orla's murderer. Every page of Kidd's who-done-it novel is filled with magic, spirit, peppery characters, and ghosts of the village dead, including their pets, who are visible only to some. A wellspring emerges in a priest's house, ushering in a chorus of frogs. Sandwiches "curl up and die," trees "hold their own counsel," and a swarm of "bullet-headed bees" makes an appearance. Yet there is murder, too. Kidd mixes the darkest capacities of these villagers with carefully observed whimsy and fantasy. Readers who enjoy a dollop of whiskey in their tea will feel right at home in Mulderrig. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
In her exceptional debut novel, Kidd explores the dark corners of the human mind in small-town 1970s Ireland, creating a haunting story that moves between the supernatural and the mundane. A murder mystery on the surface, the story digs past the traditional whodunit structure to paint a rich portrait of village life. Mahony, a charming young man who can communicate with the dead, returns to Mulderrig, Ireland, his birthplace, in search of the truth about his mother's mysterious disappearance. As he dredges up the town's best-kept secrets, the line between past and present blurs, ghosts of the departed shadowing the footsteps of those still living. Mahony's quest is, at its core, a journey of self-discovery, yet his presence, much like his mother's, creates a ripple that churns into a tempest, ultimately threatening the stability of the town as a whole. The lavishly populated cast of characters boasts unique quirks, hidden motivations, and a dangerous instinct for self-preservation. In Mulderrig, Mahony learns, all is not as it seems; the departed prove to be the least of his worries. While the plot hurtles along at a rapid pace, leading inexorably to the heart-pounding final conflict, Kidd injects ample doses of macabre humor and lyrical description in this memorable story from a strange, bold new voice. (Mar.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.Review by School Library Journal Reviews
Mahony spent most of his life believing that his mother abandoned him at an orphanage. In his mid-20s, he learns that she was murdered, so he returns to the town of his birth to uncover the truth. Aided by the wealthy and wily Mrs. Cauley, her sidekick Bridget Doosey, and his ability to see ghosts, Mahony shakes things up and slowly unravels the dark secrets of a small Irish town. Set mostly in the 1970s, the novel also moves to the 1940s and 1950s to focus on the events of the protagonist's birth and his mother's murder. Superstition and magical realism permeate the book, and nature lends a hand in hiding and revealing secrets. Rich in characterization, setting, and salty dialogue, this mystery and journey of self-discovery features some sex and violence but nothing too extreme. Teens will find the quaint town of Mulderrig and its inhabitants fascinating and fearsome. VERDICT A charming addition for strong readers who enjoy well-drawn characters and stories with a hint of magic.—Tamara Saarinen, Gig Harbor Library, WA Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.
Twenty-six years after he was abandoned at an orphanage, Mahony returns to the rural Irish village he was born in, determined to discover the truth, after receiving a mysterious note suggesting his mother met foul play.Review by Publisher Summary 2
When he discovers that his mother may not have given him up, but that foul play may have led to her disappearance, lovable car thief and Dublin charmer Mahony returns to the rural Irish Village where he was born to find out what really happened 26 years ago and, setting the town on its ear, enlists the help of a brash anarchist and retired theater actress to solve this mystery.Review by Publisher Summary 3
"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 amongst 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. Together, this improbable duo concoct an ingenious plan to get the town talking, aided and abetted by a cast of eccentric characters, both living and dead. Because in Mulderrig, ghosts can be just as chatty and opinionated as the town's flesh and blood residents. Mahony's investigation incurs the wrath of sanctimonious Father Quinn and the Widow Farelly, provokes letter bombs and poisoned scones, and culminates in a riotous production of the most controversial play in Irish history. 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"--Review by Publisher Summary 4
""A highly unusual tale set in a highly unusual Irish village full of dark secretsReview by Publisher Summary 5
"[A] fast-paced yarn that nimbly soars above the Irish crime fiction genre Kidd clearly knows very well." 'New York Times Book Review"[A] supernaturally skillful debut.' 'Vanity Fair"A delicious, gratifying and ageless story.' 'New York Journal of BooksAbandoned on the steps of an orphanage as an infant, Dublin charmer Mahony assumed all his life that his mother had simply given him up. But when he receives a tip one night at the bar suggesting that foul play may have led to the disappearance of his mother, he decides to return to the rural Irish village where he was born to learn what really happened twenty-six years earlier.From the moment he sets foot in Mulderrig, Mahony's presence turns the village upside down. His uncannily familiar face and outsider's ways cause a stir among the locals, who receive him with a mixture of curiosity (the men), excitement (the women), and suspicion (the pious). It seems that his mother, Orla Sweeney, had left quite an impression on this little town'dearly beloved to some, a scourge and a menace to others. But who would have had reason to get rid of her for good?Determined to find answers, Mahony solicits the help of brash pot-stirrer and retired actress Mrs. Cauley, and the two concoct an ingenious plan to get the town talking, aided and abetted by a cast of eccentric characters, some from beyond the grave. What begins as a personal mission gradually becomes a quiet revolution: a young man and his town uniting against corruption of power, against those who seek to freeze their small worlds in time, to quash the sinister tides of progress and modernity come hell or high water. But what those people seem to forget is that Mahony has the dead on his side....Centering on a small town rife with secrets and propelled by a twisting-and-turning plot, Himself is a gem of a book, a darkly comic mystery, and a beautiful tribute to the magic of language, legacy, and storytelling.