HIMSELF: A NOVEL by Jess Kidd


Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


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 among 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. This improbable duo concocts an ingenious plan to get the town talking about the day Mahony’s mother disappeared and are aided and abetted by a cast of eccentric characters, both living and dead.

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.


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 full of quirky, funny, tragic characters, both living and dead. Mahony can communicate with the dead, sometimes they’re helpful, other times not so much. Loved that Mahony was referred to as “a [County] Mayo Heathcliff.” I enjoyed the blending of magical realism into the twisted mystery. The lyrical language and dark humor were also a delight. Impressive debut!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: DARK WITCH by Nora Roberts

DarkWitch
Series: The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Released: October 29, 2013
Source: Purchased by me

With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.

Ireland.

County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.

Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.

When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.

Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…

———

Why was this book momentous? Because it was the first one by Nora Roberts I’ve read! *woots* It took long enough, didn’t it? Unfortunately, it turned out to be just an okay read. Not bad, but not great. Admittedly, I set the bar pretty high. Magic, witches, Ireland, a romance with a sexy Irishman. This story had all my favorite things, and there were parts I enjoyed, and parts that could have been better.

I loved the first couple of chapters that gave readers the history of the Dark Witch, a woman named Sorcha. Sorcha’s story took place in the 13th century, and we learn that an evil sorcerer is pursuing her and threatening her three children. Fast-forward to present day County Mayo. Three of Sorcha’s descendants are preparing to do battle with the sorcerer, who has returned to seek revenge for what happened to him 700 years ago.

I definitely enjoyed the secondary characters in this book more than the hero and heroine. The heroine is Iona, and she’s come to Ireland to find her cousins, find a home, find love, be loved… She was kind of desperate and needy. I felt like I was missing a big chunk of her back story to understand her. Unfortunately there wasn’t much remarkable about the hero, Boyle, and I couldn’t feel much chemistry between him and Iona. Now, the secondary characters I loved, in particular Cousin Branna and Fin. Branna is a talented witch and one of Sorcha’s descendants, and Finn has his own connection to the Dark Witch, too. They were once a couple until something went horribly wrong, but the passion between them is still there.

The setting was gorgeous, the magic was intriguing, and even though the romance fizzled between Iona and Boyle, I plan to read the rest of the trilogy. Branna and Fin!

Rating: 3 Stars

Book Feature: DECLAN’S CROSS by Carla Neggers

Welcome, and Happy Tuesday! Today I’m featuring Carla Neggers’ latest release in the Sharpe & Donovan series, DECLAN’S CROSS. Marine biologist Julianne Maroney retreats to Declan’s Cross on the Irish coast to help heal her broken heart, but she doesn’t expect to encounter FBI agents Sharpe and Donovan, especially since a Donovan caused her broken heart. Here’s the blurb:

declanscross
DECLAN’S CROSS
Series: Sharpe & Donovan
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Released: August 27, 2013

For marine biologist Julianne Maroney, two weeks in tiny Declan’s Cross on the south Irish coast is a chance to heal her broken heart. She doesn’t expect to attract the attention of FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan— especially since a Donovan is the reason for her broken heart. Emma and Colin are in Ireland for their own personal retreat. Colin knows he’s a reminder of everything Julianne wants to escape but something about her trip raises his suspicion. Emma, an art crimes expert, is also on edge. Of all the Irish villages Julianne could choose… Why Declan’s Cross?

Ten years ago, a thief slipped into a mansion in Declan’s Cross. Emma’s grandfather, a renowned art detective, investigated, but the art stolen that night has never been recovered and the elusive their never caught.

From the moment Julianne sets foot on Irish soil, everything goes wrong. The well-connected American driver who invited her to Ireland has disappeared. And now Emma and Colin are in Declan’s Cross.

As a dark conspiracy unfolds amid the breathtaking scenery of Declan’s Cross, the race is on to stop a ruthless killer…and the stakes have never been more personal for Emma and Colin.

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository

About the Author:

Carla Neggers is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 60 novels, with translations in 24 languages. Born and raised on the western edge of the beautiful Quabbin Reservoir in rural Massachusetts, Carla grew up with tales of her father’s life as a Dutch sailor and her mother’s childhood in northwest Florida.

At a young age, Carla began penning her own stories on a branch high up in her favorite sugar maple. Now she enjoys spending time at the family homestead (now a tree farm) with her six brothers and sisters and their families. When she’s not writing, Carla loves to travel, hike, kayak, garden, and, of course, dive into a good book. She lives with her family in Vermont, near Quechee Gorge.

www.CarlaNeggers.com