Released to praise from New York Times Book Review, Vanity Fair, Miluakee Journal Sentintel, Seattle Times, and many, many more, the “exceptional debut novel” Himself introduced the literary world to Jess Kidd, “a strange, bold new voice” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review) “darkly comic tale that is skillfully and lyrically told” (Kirkus Reviews). See Purchase Options below.

Abandoned on the steps of an orphanage as an infant in 1950, 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 her 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 earlier. In HIMSELF, Jess Kidd delivers a black-humored mystery, a debut novel populated with colorful characters, a simmering blend of the natural and the supernatural, and in homage to her roots, a generous dose of quintessentially Irish humor.

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 curiosity, suspicion, and excitement. Determined to uncover the truth, Mahony solicits the help of brash, retired actress Mrs. Cauley, and together, the improbable duo concoct a plan to get the town talking, aided and abetted by a cast of characters, some from beyond the grave. As flashbacks unravel the mysterious circumstances of Mahony’s mother’s disappearance, the investigation incurs the wrath of sanctimonious Father Quinn and the Widow Farelly, unsettling the village, provoking cases of letter bombs and poisoned scones. What begins as a personal mission gradually becomes a quiet revolution: a young man and his town uniting against corruption, against those who seek to quash the sinister tides of progress and modernity come hell or high water. But what those people seem to keep forgetting is that Mahony has the dead on his side…

  • image of Himself
  • image of Himself

Purchase Options

There is always the option to support your local bookshop and order via them but if you want to order/pre-order online here are some retailer links:

Himself – U.K.

  • Amazon link for Himself
  • Hive books link
  • Link for Wordery purchase
  • Link for Blackwell's purchase

Himself, U.S.

  • Amazon link for Himself
  • Books a Million purchase link
  • Link for Barnes & Noble purchase
  • Link for Indiebound purchase

U.K. and Ireland Reviews

Jess Kidd’s debut novel is, varyingly, genuinely creepy, funny, warm, wryly real, smart and compelling.She tells a cracking story with bags of style, a great cast of characters and seemingly effortless ability . .. One of my favourite reads of the year – RICK O’SHEA

Page-turning and memorable . . . An exuberant rollercoaster of a read . . . My debut of the year – Irish Examiner

An intriguing story of family secrets and haunting – ANDREW MICHAEL HURLEY, author of The Loney

A genuinely intriguing mystery, with moments of real tenderness . . . otherworldly and wonderfully original – Stylist

Combines magical realism and supernatural elements with a good old fashioned murder mystery, accomplished lyricism, and no little humour – Radio Times

Eerie . . . Deliciously chilling – Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

Wonderfully entertaining . . . the ghosts are not the main attraction in this delightful first novel; it is also a detective story, in which Mahony and Mrs C make an unlikely Holmes and Watson – The Times

Beautiful, haunting and veined with wicked wit, Himself is a mystery you want to tear through, written inprose you want to savour – SIMON WROE, author of Chop Chop

A fireworks display of a debut novel, sometimes creepy, dreamlike and hilarious – Irish Independent

An imaginative setting and richly drawn central characters – Irish Times

A dark new voice in Irish Fiction . . . Jess Kidd draws on her Irish heritage to create a page-turner thatwill have you gripped from start to finish – Irish Post

Mesmerising . . . One of the debut novels of the year . . . ferocious and funny – iNews

Himself is an imaginative, witty study of small communities and their secrets – Financial Times

The most alluring new fiction has an Irish bent – Vogue

Supernaturally skillful debut. Irish eyes are glowing – Vanity Fair

U.S. Reviews

“[A] fast-paced yarn that nimbly soars above the Irish crime fiction genre Kidd clearly knows very well.” — New York Times Book Review

“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… 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.”
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Over in Dublin, Jess Kidd’s Himself is her supernaturally skillful debut. Irish eyes are glowing.” — Vanity Fair

Wonderfully entertaining . . . the ghosts are not the main attraction in this delightful first novel; it is also a detective story, in which Mahony and Mrs C make an unlikely Holmes and Watson – The Times

“For the love of all that’s right and true in the world, you’ve got to read Jess Kidd’s debut Himself (Atria), a fabulously imaginative, darkly comic Irish tale set ‘in the arse-end of beyond’ in a village called Mulderigg. Reading this picaresque novel is like nursing a pint in a pub while a seanchaí, a traditional storyteller, trills the air with magic and mystery and a local modulates the narrative with irreverent commentary from a stool in the corner…In Mahony, the author has created a literary descendant of Henry Fielding’s ‘Tom Jones’ (also a foundling with parental issues), and in Mulderigg she’s imagined a literary neighborhood akin to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Macondo, a place populated with eccentric characters, living and dead. The plot races to an ending of Biblical proportions (as most Irish tales do) and it’ll bring tears to your sorry eyes and joy  to your hardened heart.” — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“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… 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.”

“Debut novelist Kidd paints a darkly magical tale of a man who revisits his birthplace of Mulderrig, a small coastal town in Ireland, to investigate the mysterious circumstances of his mother’s death 26 years earlier… Joining Mahony on his quest for answers are three women who add even more color to this richly drawn mystery about a town with more than its share of secrets… Told in a unique voice with complex characters, the paranormal mystery will keep readers guessing whodunit until the very end—all while falling in love with the quirky cast. A darkly comic tale that is skillfully and lyrically told.” — Kirkus Reviews

“[A] whimsical mystery… That’s the pleasure of Himself—the way the novel’s plot, with its delicate language and soft Irish lilt, wanders like lush green vines, never seeming to travel in straight lines. A villageful of characters emerge, all of them having a deft way with a line… The mystery here is how the living and the dead live side by side, and the joy is the music with which Kidd brings all of the characters to life.” — Seattle Times

“Himself is Jess Kidd’s confident, engaging debut novel. It has a captivating ensemble cast, great jolts of humor and danger, hair-raising plot twists and just enough darkness to make the magic feel true. A thoroughly enjoyable read.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Himself is a classic, feeding the reader through a multisensory smorgasbord of Irish euphemisms…The snappy dialogue in Himself is delightful and a strong asset to Kidd’s flawless storytelling. The story breathes metaphors into sweet descriptive prose, pulling at heartstrings and bursting with humor…Foul play, fantasy, and a glimmer of romance wrapped up in a suspense-filled ending, makes Himself a delicious, gratifying and ageless story.” — New York Journal of Books

“Mysterious and lyrical… Moving between Mahony’s present and the village’s past, Himself is spun like a fairy tale and paced like a mystery told around a slowly fading campfire. Kidd is brilliant at setting the scene and painting it vividly with a twisted, comic voice… In Himself, the author revels in the magical and supernatural, deftly and often humorously melding superstition and folklore with real personal tragedy.” — BookPage

“[Full of] glorious characters, worthy successors to those of Dickens and Dylan Thomas…Jess Kidd is an author who shows a poet’s way with words and rhythm in her evocation of Mulderrig…[with] a plot of which Agatha Christie would have been proud…[a] beautifully paced, sometimes funny, sometimes sad and ultimately heart-warming book.”
Electric Literature

“Himself, Jess Kidd’s debut novel, has an intricate, twisting, turning plot that weaves Irish mythology, magical realism and ghosts into a whodunit that is anything but typical of its genre… As Mahony’s search for the truth unfolds, Himself draws on elements of Irish folklore in ways that make Kidd’s novel feel both whimsical and ominous… Kidd combines these elements of magic and mystery with moments of wry humor and heartfelt emotion. A tribute to the classic Irish art of storytelling, Himself is a delight from start to finish…. Discover: A young man searches for the truth about his mother’s past in a mystery that marvelously combines mysticism and Irish folklore.”
—Shelf Awareness

“A highly unusual tale set in a highly unusual Irish village full of dark secrets and engaging characters (not all of them still alive). Lushly imagined, delightfully original and very, very funny, it hurtles along from the very first page. A hugely enjoyable read. I can’t wait for more from Jess Kidd.”
M.L. Stedman, bestselling author of The Light Between Oceans