Opening sentence: “He has a curious way of moving through his rubbish, he leans into it, skimming down the corridors like a fearless biker on a hairpin bend.”
I purposely didn’t read anything about the plot of The Hoarder before starting it. I loved the unexpected elements of Jess Kidd’s debut novel, Himself, so wanted to be equally as engrossed and surprised with this read. And spoiler: I was.
Maud Drennan is employed by Gabriel Flood to help clear years and years of rubbish / furniture / artefacts from his father, Cathal’s, house (I say house, it is quite a fabulous old mansion named Bridlemere that has been left to decay) and act as a carer to his cantankerous father. Cathal is difficult to get along with, he generally doesn’t like people, especially ones that snoop around his home. Luckily for Cathal, gentle Maud is made of strong stuff and not only helps him clear the physical mess in his house, but starts to crack the old man’s spiky character too. There must be a reason he is so defensive and Maud is going to find out why.
I really took to Maud. She was the perfect balance of intuitive and kind with a great sense of justice. Character-wise, I also loved Maud’s wonderfully written reclusive neighbour Ronata who I kind of wish lived next door for me to pop round and have a chat to. All the characters in The Hoarder are written with such care that it just makes them a joy to read.
In Himself, Jess Kidd proved herself to be an expert at mixing supernatural elements into a story in such a believable way that suspension of disbelief wasn’t even considered, you just immediately accepted what was happening when ghosts popped up on the page. So when Maud Drennon sees and has conversations with St. Dymphna, St. Patrick and St. George, you go with it. She gets advice from her spirit guides whether she wants it or not and they all add charm and vibrancy to the story.
The Hoarder is quite unlike anything I’ve read, Jess Kidd is so great at setting the scene, you feel for her characters and you welcome the chirping of the saints. As well as these elements, there is a great family mystery at the heart of the story which was gripping and satisfying. I just loved every page (well, word as I listed to this on audiobook, but the sentiment is the same!)
/ Published by Canongate Books 2018
/ Audiobook narrated by Aoife McMahon
/ Running time: 10 hours 16 mins
/ Rating: 5/5