With only her agoraphobic landlady and a troop of sarcastic ghostly saints to help, Maud must uncover what lies beneath Cathal's decades-old hostility, and the strange activities of the house itself. And if someone has hidden a secret there, how far will they go to ensure it remains buried?
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The Hoarder is an intriguing and mysterious novel about a psychic carer who ends up drawn into the life of a strange old man. Maud Drennan faces the difficult challenge of helping the cantankerous Cathal Flood in his huge, ram-packed home in West London. He has scared off all the carers who have come before and lives with a menagerie of cats, a fox, and a few ghosts of the past. Soon Maud finds herself trying to work out what happened in the house and what the secrets of the Floods are, aided only by her agoraphobic landlady Renata and a legion of unhelpful ghostly saints. Kidd blends Catholicism, mystery, and runaway girls in a narrative that develops interesting characters as the protagonist tries to unravel past secrets. Maud is headstrong and determined, but with a past of her own, and her battles with Cathal form much of the book’s premise. Her landlady Renata, an agoraphobic trans woman with a stage show past, is great as she eggs on Maud to see murder and conspiracy everywhere, and then helps her answer the real questions posed by what Maud finds. The plot is tense, but it is the characters that make the novel, even down to the saint ghosts that only Maud can see and who are generally completely useless. From the premise, I wasn’t sure how enjoyable the book would be, as it didn’t sound hugely exciting or new. However, Kidd’s skilful combination of tense mystery and varied characters meant that it was an easy read to devour, that leaves the reader guessing the answers and appreciating the detail.
The Hoarder seems like your average ghost story. As you dig deeper, it soon becomes clear that it is anything but average. You are confronted with a labyrinth of family secrets, ghostly apparitions, betrayal and a group of most unhelpful saints. Like Cathal wading through the mountain of rubbish that fills every conceivable space in his home. The reader wades through this atmospheric story with their heart racing and their mind working overtime trying to figure out what secrets are hiding in Bridlemere. As a psychic and ardent believer in the afterlife, I knew I had to read this book as soon as I read the blurb. All characters were extremely well written, coming to life on the page. Maud and Cathal were amongst my favourites. Maud for her straightforward no-nonsense attitude and Cathal for his cunning nature. The story itself has an almost oppressive feel to it but in a good way. It draws the reader in making them feel part of everything that is going on around them. When I was reading the parts set in the house, I could sense the overwhelming feeling of grief, loss and foreboding that came from Cathal. As the story builds to its surprising conclusion, many secrets are brought into the light. Will definitely be re-reading this again in the future.
I hope it is not too early to review this book, it is not published until February next, but having enjoyed Himself so much, when I got a copy of The Hoarder I stopped what I was doing and read it straight away. I love Jess Kidd for her wonderfully extravagant imagination, her blunt, but still elegant atmospheric writing, her magnificent character creations and her gobshites. The Hoarder misses the irresistible Mahony and the outrageous Mrs Caughey from Himself, but this whodunnit set in London around a manor house and its elderly owner, both of whom have seen better days, is another page turner. Once again Jess Kidd takes the reader on a crazy trip, purpose and destination unknown for a long time. There are times when the carousel goes too fast and the fabulous characters and artefacts blur as you whiz past them. The saints in particular often appear random, especially as they are mostly of little help. The central character Maud Drennan displays more equanimity than I could muster if St George dumped a dead serpent on my table in St***ucks. Look out for this one.
I very much enjoyed Jess Kidd’s first novel ‘Himself’ and many of the things I liked so much in that one are here in this new book too. Her deadpan humour, for sure. One quotation that made me laugh: ‘Besides, the old man is looking a lot less peaky, still cadaverous, but filling out a little around the eye sockets.’ I was very taken with the ghostly saints, their behaviour, their reactions to events and her description of their special interests - St George (cavalry, chivalry, herpes), St Monica (disappointing children, victims of adultery). Her characters held my interest and I warmed to cantankerous old Cathal and the exuberant Renata. If there was one thing that disappointed, it was that the darkness at the core of her earlier book was missing. The mysterious elements were not really mysterious enough, the bad ones rather obvious and the ending tied up loose ends too neatly for my taste. An fun romp through the spiritualist world but doesn’t quite match up to ‘Himself’.
Our protagonist is Maud Drennan, a carer originally from Ireland who now lives in a maisonette with the agoraphobic Renata and a group of saints who can only be seen by her. Maud is sent by her agency to care for and clean up after the cantankerous Cathal Flood, living alone in the once grand house Bridlemere. His wife Mary died a few years ago and his relationship with son Gabriel is testy, so Maud is his only real companion. However, as Maud begins to clean up Bridlemere, the house starts to reveal clues to its sinister past. Can Maud and Renata uncover the dark secret which haunts both the house and the family? And can Maud finally recall what happened to her sister in Ireland years previously? I love a creepy house story. Jane Eyre, Rebecca, The Little Stranger, you name it - if it features a sinister manor or haunted house I have probably read it or it is sitting on my TBR. And The Hoarder certainly doesn't disappoint in this regard. The descriptions of Bridlemere are so vivid that you feel you are there, I could smell the wet earth and dusty scent. The sights and smells are beautifully evoked by Kidd, and gives you a real sense of the house and its dilapidation. I could picture the rooms and garden easily. Bridlemere, like many grand houses before it, plays a major part in the story and feels like a character rather than a mere backdrop. Kidd has also admirably taken this grand, sinister house from its usual historical setting and placed it in the modern world. I really enjoyed this aspect, and it was fun reading a Gothic story in this context. While we still have the staples of a haunted house such as forbidden rooms and mysterious creaking in shadowy corners, Kidd injects something new. Instead of a locked door, a part of the house is blocked off by a wall of National Geographics. Whilst there was imagery evoking earlier Gothic stories, and I was reminded of things such as Bluebeard's Castle and Robert Browning's 'My Last Duchess' when reading, there was also plenty of current pop culture references. The mash-up of the old and the new was fascinating and really made the novel stand out. The characterisations of Maud and Cathal were also highlights for me. Their banter was well-written, funny at one point then suddenly becoming quite tense. You never quite knew how Cathal would react or what would happen next. This gave their conversations, though often lighthearted, a sense of dread especially when Cathal becomes a figure of suspicion. Maud's witty, dry observations and religious leanings reminded me a little of Jane Eyre, though like with Bridlemere, I think Kidd does subvert this idea. Maud feels like a much more troubled, world-weary character than Jane, and I think that's what makes her an interesting character to read about. The one thing I didn't like was the frequent conversations with the saints. At points they reminded me of Gods in Ancient Greek literature, commenting on the unfolding plot. However most of the time they reminded me of the 'inner goddess' of Fifty Shades of Grey and (sorry E.L James fans) that put me right off. They also were quite distracting, especially in the second half of the novel. I would be gripped by the mystery, heart pounding and then ripped out of the story because St Valentine or George was doing something irrelevant. I understand their significance in the story but I felt they were overused and became annoying by the end. Overall I really enjoyed The Hoarder. This was a very clever, well-written take on a haunted house story. The characters were beautifully drawn and Bridlemere was very atmospheric. I've never read Kidd's first novel but I will pick it up in the future as she has a great writing style. If you like a good literary mystery (who doesn't?) then you should definitely check out this.
First of all, I'd like to thank Netgalley and Canongate for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I really liked this book. It is funny but sad at the same time, full of emotions, witty descriptions and quirky characters. It reminded me a lot of Neil Gaiman's works but the writing and storytelling is even better. (Sorry Neil) Our story takes place in a world where teenage girls go missing, grumpy old men feed foxes(very much like ours) and Saints stroll the streets without a soul being able to see them. Well,everyone except Maud. The hesitant clairvoyant Maud is an underpaid social worker with a sharp sense of humour: It's funny how humans and care workers adapt. On my first day I thought the reek of Mr Flood's house would take the top of my head off. By the end o my shift I could eat a fig roll if I breathed through my mouth. Maud can see the beings from after life, mostly saints carelessly wandering around as a part of her daily life. She can see St Valentine by the fridge, or St George can pass by when she's sipping her coffee in a cafe. Most of these Saints are quite interesting types, you would expect them to be boring and bland maybe, but they are full of sarcasm and nosiness. The grumpy old man, 'The Hoarder' of this story, Cathal Flood is Maud's new assignment. He lives in a grand house which is not looked after and filled with all sorts of objects, trinkets and junk. He hates his son but looks after his cats and a wild fox. Maud befriends Cathal, and gets interested in his family's past. As the old man opens up to her, with the help of her clairvoyance she will discover there is more in the past of Flood's than it seems. This book is a parade of quirky characters. The transgender sidekick - landlady Renata, Cathal Flood - swinging between being an artist and a complete lunatic, the Saints, appearing everywhere, with their expressed views and openness. I loved each one of them! Also the story got me hooked, although some of it was fairly predictable I found it impossible to drop the book before the last page. I would love to read more of Jess Kidd. Her writing is funny and pure. I also loved the ending and would hope very much to read another novel with same characters! I think you might like Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey if you liked this book, although that one didn't have any fantastic elements in it. I also love the references in the book to the other literary heroes I loved. It always makes me instantly bond with the author when I discover they like my favourite literary characters too... A 4.5 out of 5 starts from me. Here are some bits from the book I highlighted: In Renata's eyes there is the creak and pitch of thousand ships and the moon on the water and the song of a sad drunken deckhand. "It's grief, you see, Maud." "What is?" "That causes people never to throw anything else away, ever again. Not even a crisp packet. They can't take another loss. Believe me. I'm no stranger of bereavement." "...the loveliest eyes are found in the heads of women who have suffered." He smiles. Damage lies at their shining core..." "Jobs are very dangerous." She closes her eyes. "Disappointment, lung disorders, boredom, stress, futility, suicide, heart disease, disillusionment, diabetes, strokes." The Hoarder will be published in February 2018 and I have a feeling it's going to be one of the most liked books in this genre in 2018. #JessKidd #Canongate #NetGalley
I love Maud Drennan & her coterie of saints! Engaging & enjoyable throughout. Cathal Flood is a complex character, in spite of his prickly exterior you find yourself warming to him & wondering about the hoard & his relationship with his rather poisonous son. Did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did, won't ever see another statue of a saint without remembering this book & some of the irreverent & amusing asides!
Cathal Flood, a widow, lives in a large sprawling house and it is Maud’s job to help him declutter with the ultimate goal of transferring him to a retirement home at the request of his son Gabriel. Amid the clutter however, Maud unearths mysteries from Cathal’s family relating to the disappearance of his daughter. What became of her? And who in fact is the one who doesn’t want their secrets discovered? I was drawn to this title since I wanted to know what Cathal was hoarding and indeed he does own some interesting things amid the cats. I was also interested in how Cathal would react to Maud “sticking her beak in”. The protagonist Maud certainly possesses the people skills to disarm the most difficult of people as we see when she parries with Cathal’s reactions. Jess writes an often humorous yet touching narrative. What I loved about this novel was the layered nature of this novel. Pockets of stories arise from Cathal’s tales to Maud’s saints and her own story regarding her sister. Loneliness features large in this novel and yet the story is not sad. It is a story I will re-read to remind myself about the better nature residing in us all. A definite recommended read particularly if you like mysteries and tales within tales.
I love Jess Kidd.. her writing is atmospheric beautiful and this novel set in London is a whodunnit with a fabulous plot. Family secrets, ghostly apparitions, and betrayal all make this novel a must read. It is going to be massive for 2018. It is extremely well written, and watching the characters come to life was an absolute delight I loved it
This was my first read from this author, and based on this showing, I'd hunt down her earlier work also. She writes developing characters that are fascinating with a plot that rackets along. You never quite know who's as reliable as they say .. The irish slang seems perfectly observed and you genuinely want to know more of the back story as it is gradually revealed throughout. My only criticism are that a couple of the plot devices are perhaps traditional psychological fiction tropes, but the book is none the worse for that (crotchety old nutcase rattling around large old house, etc).. but the Saints particularly are well observed and portrayed. This is great fun read, though..
I loved this book. Maud Drennan is a carer for the elderly and cantankerous Cathal Flood who lives in a large house filled with rubbish. Maud's job is to clean, feed and care for Cathal. Slowly the tale unravels, with a mystery being conjured out of Maud and her eccentric landlady Renata's overactive imaginations. The mystery is not what the story is about (although is very entertaining) but for me it was all about the relationships formed. The book is wonderfully written and the characters jump off the page into your head. Recommend it. (ARC from NetGalley)
This book drew me in from page one. The voice is so distinctive and genuine. I feel as if i know her. Descriptions of a house full of hoarded goods are so well penned you almost squeeze around the clutter in your mind. Crazy ghost friends and eccentric back stories this book is hard to categorise but its like havinga conversation with a slightly crazy friend who experienced the whole thing. Dialogue real and funny, a treat for fiction lovers who are fed up of the same old same old! Will be reviewing on Bookety Book.com
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.