The Hoarder by Jess Kidd

the hoarderMaud Drennan is a forty-something carer.  Originally from Ireland, she now lives in London and finds herself taking care of Cathal Flood, a man it isn’t easy to like.  He frightened his last carer away, and the ones before that.  Somehow, though, Maud is holding on, slowly making her way through Cathal’s house and the years of dirt, grime and chaos he has accumulated.

Whether it’s her grit, or their shared Irish roots, Cathal begins to let her in – and so does his rambling, shambolic house.  Because, as well as being a carer, Maud is psychic and, pretty quickly, it becomes clear that the house – or it’s former residents are trying to tell her something. Read More »

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

The language of dyingThe Language of Dying is one of those books I saw at the library and picked up for he cover alone. Then I realised it was written by Sarah Pinborough, who I haven’t read but I know has written other books other bloggers have loved.  I had high hopes, hopes which were originally met – at least for the first half of the short book (it’s only 131 pages).

It starts with a woman – whose name we never get to know (or if we did, I missed it) – sitting by the bed of her dying father.  She is alone, thinking back over her life and how she has ended up where she is, and waiting for her brothers and sisters to arrive to say their final goodbyes.

I found this bit so well written and the language, whilst it might have been about dying, was beautiful.  The thoughts going through the woman’s head, her inner monologue as her family arrives and she thinks back on their childhood and move into adulthood and how, somewhere along the way, it all went wrong for them, completely drew me in.  I was convinced that I had found a perfect book for me.Read More »

Monthly Update: October, 2017

Month in review

So it’s bye, bye, October and hello November, with the dark nights now fully here and the cold weather making itself known, it’s the perfect time of year to snuggle down with a good book – well, at least it is in my part of the world!  Thankfully, I’ve had some good books this month and have the promise of more to come (yay!).  Here’s what I liked, loved and just weren’t for me this month…Read More »

A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M. Harris

a pocketful of crowsIn a time when superstition ruled the way people behaved, a brown-skinned, black-eyed, girl falls in love with the beautiful son of the local laird.

She is not the type of girl people fall in love with, not the type the local folk trust.  She is not like them, she is a traveller. She moves on the wind, with the animals, lives with nature.  She is completely free, or at least she is until she falls in love.

Then she becomes bound, changing her name, her ways, her future.  She trusts in the love she feels and, already in love with her myself, I prayed that that love wouldn’t be betrayed.

The course of true love never runs smooth though and this story is no exception.  The question is whether there will be a happy ending or if it will all end in tears?  Read More »

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

34604719Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East London. But the cracks are already starting to show. Eleanor is unnerved by the eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill. Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery of the house’s previous owners—including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of times on the walls of the upstairs room.

I am a big fan of ghost stories, where things go bump in the night and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and that is what The Upstairs Room promises with it’s tale of a young family and their lodger who move into a house that fills all but one of the adults with dread the moment they walk in the door.  Read More »

Himself by Jess Kidd

img_0485-1When Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland’s west coast, he brings only a photograph of his long-lost mother and a determination to do battle with the village’s lies.

His arrival causes cheeks to flush and arms to fold in disapproval. No one in the village – living or dead – will tell what happened to the teenage mother who abandoned him as a baby, despite Mahony’s certainty that more than one of them has answers.

Between Mulderrig’s sly priest, its pitiless nurse and the caustic elderly actress throwing herself into her final village play, this beautiful and darkly comic debut novel creates an unforgettable world of my

Mystical, murderous, and magical, all words that describe Jess Kidd’s debut novel set in a small Irish village where nothing is as it seems, including the dead with their tales to tell.

The murderous starts early, with the murder of a young woman whilst her baby lays beside her on a woodland floor before jumping forward 26 years to when the baby is a young man himself, Mahony. Growing up an orphan in Dublin, he knows nothing of his mother or the small village of Mulderrig in which he was born. Once he arrives, it seems most of the villagers want to make sure it stays that way.

As is the way with small villages there are secrets behind every person he encounters, some small and not really worth keeping, others much bigger. Big enough to kill for, including knowing what happened to Mahony’s mom. Trying to help him find out the truth is Mrs. Caulty, a former actress who settled in the village as a young woman herself. She is now old, bossy and determined. She understands Mahony the moment she meets him and won’t let him give up, dragging friends and her landlady into the investigation as well. 

All the characters are quirky, some in a not so nice way like the priest, and all are richly drawn in a lyrical style which I can’t always get away with but suits this book and the supernatural element, because Mahony can see ghosts. Again, this isn’t something I normally go for in a book but here it fit. The village, the landscape, the people, they seemed perfect for a haunting, which is what happens to the village once Mahony arrives. The dead, it seems, want to be heard as much as he wants to find his mom.

Given the opening, the secrets and the ghosts it could all be very dark but Jess Kidd has added humour with the characters and depth with her descriptions of the people and place. She has also managed to stray away from it becoming silly, which I think is a danger when you try mixing quirky characters, murder and supernatural elements. It’s a fine line and she walks it well. That there are ghosts seems perfectly natural. She also has enough plot twists to keep you guessing.  I thought I knew who did it but I wasn’t 100% till near the end.

For a debut, there is a confidence in all this that is really impressive. I found the book well written, with good pace and great characterisation. I’m not sure it’s my normal type of read but I am glad I got a copy and would definitely recommend it. Liked this one a lot.

Emma

Note: I received this book from net galley in return for a fair no honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

The Memory Man, a short story by Helen Smith

23624909Pages: 50

Reading time: about 30 minutes

Making her way through a dark cafeteria in what may well be an even darker warehouse, Sarah comes across Valerie, asleep in a chair and wrapped in a blanket. Next to her, a dead body…which they put in a disused fridge whilst they try to decide what to do.

Neither is sure. It is dark. They are scared. And they have no idea how they got here. No memories at all in fact. Which means they aren’t sure what is outside the door and at the end of the corridor. Valerie decides to try and find out, leaving Sarah alone and afraid, only to come back with strange stories and fragments of memories that may or may not be hers and a name that may or may not be the dead mans.

The where and the why are a nice twist in this story, which was well written with good pace. It packs a lot into its 50 pages. For some reason, I had in my head that it would be a crime story but it is more supernatural and spooky and I liked that. Sarah and Valerie and the Memory Man himself were interesting and there was so much not said, building the tension. I really wanted to know how they had ended up in the room and what would happen to them, which meant that for me, the story ended a little too soon. I would have liked a few more pages and a little more plot. Still enjoyed it though and would recommend to anyone with half an hour to spare.

Emma