Cover Image: The Hoarder

The Hoarder

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley for the chance to read this. I'm catching up, and I also bought it.

This book turned out not to be what I expected when I started reading, and better. The random family made up for the real family, I loved it.
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There was much to enjoy here, but I found I couldn't connect with it. I'd read more from this author in the future though.
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I’m sorry but this was not the book I was expecting. It was slow and it’s beginning was packed with too much information. It was hard to focus and continue reading.
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Thank you Netgalley for the review copy of this book.

Jess Kidd does it again.  

I wasn't expecting to like this book as I thought the idea behind it of mysticism, psychic tendancies etc was a little far fetched. However, the main character Maud Drennan was very down to earth and humourous and the theme of psychic possibilities runs very much in the background throughout.  
I loved Cathal Flood, he was brilliant as the belligerent old man surrounded by mystery and the chemistry between them was enthralling.  Was lovely to read and made me laugh many times and cry on a couple!
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Wow. What can I say? This book was right up my street and executed amazingly well. I was gripped from start to finish and sank deeply into the world of the novel. I will be on the lookout for more of Jess Kidd's work. An absolutely stunning novel.
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This book is beautiful. I loved every magical minute of it. It builds so gracefully as we slowly unravel the mystery behind Cathal's hoarding and that of a missing child. All the characters are fascinating and I really need another book with the saints in as they were hilarious. 

Maud sees ghosts or rather the ghosts of various saints as well, we've got an agoraphobic transgender ex-magicians assistant and a cast of bad guys. And then there is Cathal. I'm not sure if it was deliberate or if I owe the author an apology but in my head he looked exactly like an Irish BFG. That's not a criticism, I had a lovely image of him in my head. The mansion he lives in is equally easy to picture. 

There's a bit of musicality to the language. It just seemed to flow on a such a wonderful level and I couldn't put it down. Pretty much the best book I've read so far this year (2019)
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This book was a little slow at points, however, Maud's interactions with Saints were really interesting and seeing the backstory develop was enjoyable.
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The Hoarder sucks you into the narrative with the first sentence. 

I will sometimes read the first few sentences of a new book just before I go to bed (dangerous I know) and most time I’m able to go, yep, this is going to be good, or no, think I’ll pass and put the book down. This time, I nearly made another cup of tea so that I could curl up on the couch and get started.

There’s a magic that flows out of The Hoarder. It swirls around you. You’re convinced what you’re reading must be based in fact and not coming from the brain of someone far smarter that you can ever hope to be. This is also helped by the believability of the characters; the strangeness of the house that Maud is sent to help clear; the mixed meanings of life and the metaphors that lead us into problems. 

The use of Saints is also an intriguing inclusion. I did develop a soft spot for Saint Dymphna and Saint Valentine.

I loved every page of this book and I’m grateful to Netgalley and Jess Kidd for granting me an advanced reader copy.
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I found this an exceptionally entertaining book, with the darkness of a gothic novel mixed with classic humour. This is an utterly fascinating tale that blended both the real and surreal to great effect and I was utterly captivated by it.
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The Hoarder is a gothic detective story that runs along similar lines to Himself, mixing mystery and the supernatural with great flair, humour and brilliant darkness in a modern reinvention of horror themes that is highly original and thoroughly enjoyable.

Maud Drennan is assigned to care for irascible Cathal Flood whose impressive townhouse has descended through faded grandeur to outright squalor, filled to bursting with accumulated junk, dirt and chaos. She also has visions of saints and they are hilarious.

Amongst Cathal’s decaying possessions she discovers photographs of his family; his son, his wife and an unmentioned daughter. Disturbingly, the faces of the two females have been burnt out and with Cathal’s violent reputation and the death of his wife (from that typically suspicious cause, falling down the stairs) Maud suspects even darker secrets hidden amongst her client’s hoards.
Kidd’s writing is a delight. Her agile prose skips lightly from comic scenes to wonderfully grotesque descriptions without missing a beat. The mouldering edifice of Cathal’s chaotic home recalls the traditions of literature’s best haunted houses but repackaged in a thoroughly fresh and modern form. There’s a lush quality to her descriptions, with a dark undercurrent of decay both in the people and the settings. Though it often made me laugh out loud there’s the same creeping dread and growing tension in the best horror novels. The contrast is judged to perfection, offset by the towering piles of Cathal’s belongings and the uncertainty about what lies within them, and their owner.

Her characters are particularly memorable but for all their wild eccentricity they manage to be both complex and human and she describes them with the colourful, comic flair of a modern-day Dickens. Cathal is not the twee curmudgeon with the heart of gold that so often contaminates literary characterisation of the elderly and that is a breath of fresh air. There is some sharply-observed social commentary about modern treatment of the elderly and Kidd allows them to be fully-fledged humans, selfish, violent, and unpleasant but still worthy of consideration.
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4.5/5 

Cathal Flood is an Octogenarian, massively unpleasant and a compulsive, obsessive hoarder. His once grand, sprawling mansion has been overtaken by rubbish, cats, faeces and bizarre curios collected over 25 years. After ‘seeing off’ care giver after care giver, Maud Drennan is next in line to help clear the home and tame its wild inhabitant. Underneath the jumble and grime a dark secret may just  be uncovered. 

I was a little late to the party with this novel but so glad that I got round to reading it. The plot is beguiling and assisted with back stories that tie together. Although the plot pulls you along it is the characters that drive this book. 

Every character, be it leading or supporting is superbly realised and wow, Jess Kidd has an incredible talent for characterisation. The characters are lifted from the page and brought to life so vividly and on several occasions I had to read out loud passages to my family of character descriptions as they were so impressive. 

Cathal Flood is the stand out as the surly, dangerous but ageing, Irish giant. Potentially malevolent but as the novel progresses we begin to see the man behind the monster. Maud Drennan is the perfect foil for Flood. Feisty, strong but vulnerable and enquiring. The relationship between the two is the heart of the book and is at times unsettling and uneasy but absolutely compelling. Whereas the book can fall into the category of a black comedy, their relationship never falls into this and I’m glad for it. 

The Author’s skill as a wordsmith is also beautifully highlighted when describing Bridlemere, Cathal Flood’s once grand mansion, now in such wilful neglect and chaos. The scenes in Bridlemere are quite overwhelming and claustrophobic with the cramped, creaking overrun building a character in itself. It can be quite oppressive when reading scenes in the house and it’s quite a relief when we depart but it does leave you yearning to return after a break due to the author’s exquisitely detailed depiction of this bizarre abode. 

The novel is a black comedy and, for me, not necessarily a good thing. I much preferred the darker element of the book and while levity at times is important to alleviate the gloom and dread I found it to be a bit silly at times. Maud Drennan is often accompanied by various Irish saints who give random advice. I wasn’t sure of the benefit of this device and it was never explained why Maud was surrounded by the saints. It added some ‘magical realism’ that I don’t think was entirely necessary. 

The characters and the writing were the stand outs for me. The author has a massive talent for characterisation which is a joy to read. I think without the comedy element this could have a been a great book rather than a really good book but that’s just me. A pleasure to read and richer for it.
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Quirky story - really liked the main character Maud. Some passages I found I had to really concentrate on, so not always an 'easy' read, but overall I enjoyed it!
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This was a delicious little quirky book about a cantankerous old man called Cathal Flood and his trash filled home,  his carer Maud and the family old mystery surrounding the disappearance of a local school girl and death of Cathal’s wife. 

This is very much a character driven story. Maud, our main protagonist, is perceptive and likeable. She cares about people in such a way that allows them to shine in her presence and bring out the best of their personalities. This is most obviously seen in her interactions with Cathal,  as their power struggle to reclaim Cathal’s delapidated and hostile house turns into something deeper than merely that of a carer and her charge. It’s also mirrored in her relationship with Renata, her eccentric transgender landlady, who exudes a vulnerability that only Maud can penetrate. The three of them together - although Maud is the only one to interact with the others, is powerful and deeply entertaining. All three are full of colour and character, perfectly balanced and developed well. 

I also really enjoyed Maud’s interactions with the various saints she can ‘see’, who often follow her Arian’s offering illicit advice at the wrong moments - much to her chargrin. The saints presence often provided some much needed light relief to the overall story, and added a quirkiness to the book that surprised me. It’s definitely unique and unusual. 

The story itself is also developed well. The mystery surrounding the house and Cathal’s family creeps up on you as an afterthought to the character development, until I was desperate for answers. The drama unfolds slowly, but with a good amount of tension and drama to propel the story to a satisfying ending.p that I didn’t see coming. There’s enough of a mystery here to draw in readers who enjoy a good secret, yet its also different enough to be enjoyed by readers who like to indulge in the paranormal and weird. 

The only aspects I didn’t enjoy too much were the paragraphs dedicated to Maud’s backstory relating to her sister’s disappearance and the various dreams. I didn’t think they really added anything to the story, and rather distracted from the main plot. They didn’t really add anything to Maud’s character either, and the conclusion, in comparison to the main story, was rather lacklustre. To me, I could have done without. 

That said, I can’t recommend this enough to everyone and I’m already adding Jess Kidd to my authors to look out for in the future.
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Maud Drennan is a carer with a unflappable demeanor, a tragic past and apparently a passel of dead (and opinionated) saints as company. She's not sure if it's that unflappable demeanor or this shared Irish nationality that finds her caring for cantankerous hoarder Cathal Flood but she soon finds herself spending her days trying to not retaliate to his meanspirited snipes and attempting to reduce the hoarded debris in his house. But as she works through what she considers junk that there is are mysteries in Floods life both past and present. As more people warn her to watch her step around him she wonders what the whole truth is.


Full of charm and humour, imagination and wit, this is a book worth spending some time with. I read this way too fast, I would advise not to do the same - it deserves time and attention. The author has created in Maud and Cathal a wonderful relationship that veers from enmity to almost friendship in equal measure. The story is complex and brilliantly detailed. This is a truly memorable novel, now looking forward to finding time for the writer first novel.
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Despite some good parts and interesting characters,The Hoarder was a book I did not enjoy and struggled to understand most of the time. I needed to read the parts with dreams and flash backs twice in order to understand they were so and I still don’t get the saints’ presence or role in the story... I’m afraid I was expecting more than I got in the end...
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Loved this book, great story and kept me gripped throughout - Really would recommend it and can't give enough praise.
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I really wanted to love this book but I found it quite slow. It didn't engage my attention fully and, while the magic realism elements were playful, they distracted from the plot rather than enhanced it. Sorry, not for me.
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Part crime-mystery, part mystical ghost story, ‘The Hoarder’, the second novel by Jess Kidd, is difficult to define. Maud Drennan is an irreverent Irish carer who has been assigned the unholy task of bringing order to the life of Cathal Flood, a cantankerous old man who lives with his cats in a decrepit house surrounded by piles of rubbish. The previous carer who did Maud’s job, was run off the scene. Amongst the piles of junk, though, are ghosts of Cathal’s past, clues to the disappearance of one maybe two women, and traps for Maud to fall into.
This is at times a bewildering smorgasbord of imagery and description, there were times when I wanted to shout ‘give me a breather’ but the humour of Maud kept me reading. There are some giant character arcs to work through, both Maud and Cathal change and change again, not to mention Maud’s glorious cross-dressing neighbour Renata. To add to the merry-go-round of confusion, Maud is followed around in her daily life by a collection of ghosts, Irish saints that she learned about in a childhood book. Each saint passes comment on Maud’s actions adding a hilarious Greek Chorus effect to the story. Maud, egged on by the agoraphobic Renata, starts to look for ways of breaching the walls of rubbish which Cathal has built around himself and his private section of his old home, Bridlemere. When she does creep through, she encounters a dusty spooky world of collectibles, automata and gruesome collections which add to the feeling that secrets are hidden somewhere in the house.
The action steps up a gear when Maud’s predecessor Sam Hebden, the carer hounded off the property by Cathal, reappears. As well as flirting with Maud, he simultaneously encourages and discourages her from her detecting. Clues appear after dreams or apparitions, at times I was unclear, and Maud stumbles onwards unsure who to trust. Cathal may be old, but he is also cunning, clever and warm. When a man turns up claiming to be Gabriel Flood, Cathal’s son, the old man protests he is a villain. There is also a rather unpleasant case manager, Biba Morel. Quite a lot of the time, I didn’t know who to believe. The story is set in London but Maud’s strong Irish voice could lead you to think you are in Ireland.
So, this is a crime mystery that is not really about a crime, rather it is about Cathal and Maud and how their pasts cannot be ignored. Cathal, who tries to barricade himself in his house, away from modern life; and Maud, who is haunted by the childhood disappearance of her sister; are both characters adrift. I loved Kidd’s debut, ‘Himself’ and enjoyed ‘The Hoarder’ though I wish the frenetic storytelling could be toned down a notch or two.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/
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Jess Kidd's "Himself" was possibly my favourite book of 2017, with its mix of strong characters, flowing plot and intermarriage of this world and the other world, past and present. 

The Hoarder does not reach the same level of excellence, thought much of it works very well and impels the reader onwards.  However, the saints are a very artificial add-on and certain features that sprung naturally from the narrative flow in Himself seem somewhat forced here. This sometimes obscures the very high qualify of Ms Kidd's writing.  

William Trevor's novels could be divided into the "surreal" and the "real" and Ms Kidd's writing is at a level where a "real" novel could work very well.
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This book is fun but the story is a but messy. There are so many things happening and it takes most of the book to get all the storylines to match up.
There is Maud with her ghosts that keep her company. We do learn a lot about Maud, how she is thinking and approaching things but it takes most of the book to understand the influence of her past on her current decisions. This made it difficult to connect to her.
Cathal is big fun though. A very interesting and witty character. He build this whole world inside his house with all these automatons. I would have loved to know more about why and how he became like this and about his automaton building.
I caught on the secret of the man early on in the story so there was not much of a surprise there. The puzzle was much fun though. Renate and Maud deciding on the next step in their investigation based on all the books they read and movies they saw. I could relate to that.
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