Mahony was brought up by nuns in a Dublin orphanage, now he is a young tearaway with nobody to keep him in check.  He is the Himself of the title.  When an elderly nun dies, he is given the thing he was always told didn’t exist: the letter that was left with him at the orphanage.  It contains a picture of him with his mother, his real name and the message that she loved him. Loved, not loves; is she dead?  He determines to go back to the small town where he was born to find out.

Heads turn when Mahony walks into Mulderigg. Not only is he new in a small town where nothing changes, he also has smouldering good looks.  The dead are every bit as interested as the living.  Everywhere he looks Mahony can see people shimmering through walls, leering over the shoulders of the living or just huddled in corners.  Now the fun can begin.  What happened to his mother?  Who is his father?  Between them, the dead and living help to solve the mystery.

How many genres can you fit into one book? HIMSELF manages to be an Irish murder mystery, a ghost story, a love story,  with just a spot of magic realism thrown in for good measure.  Sounds over-crowded?  It’s not.  Every twist and turn makes perfect sense.  Characters are drawn with skill; the creepy priest, the elderly actress or the publican that used to be a looker but has now run to myopic flab, all leap off the page.

HIMSELF had me smiling with the comedy of small town theatrics, frantically turning the pages to get through patches of peril and holding my breath as a love story unfolded.  It is one of the best books that I have read this year.

DISCLAIMER: I was sent an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

HIMSELF by Jess Kidd
Published by Canongate
Paperback £8.99, Kindle £5.89


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