The Hoarder

Review From User :

Jess Kidd returns with The Hoarder after her sublime and outstanding debut, Himself. There is much that echoes Himself in this story, its Irish background, the writing style with its themes of the supernatural and fantastical, its quirkiness, eccentric elements along with a dark gothic tale. It features rabid, volatile, relcalcitrant and cadaverous geriatric pensioner, Cathal Flood, who resides in the huge house, Bridlemere, heaving with the detritus of the Flood family history, spirits, ghosts, cats, a fox, macabre curiosities and so much more. Cathal has seen off all those sent to sort out the house and care for him, including Sam Hebden by assaulting him with a hurley stick. Psychic Maud Drennan, his latest carer, is made of much sterner stuff as she battles to clean and access the main parts of the house, impeded by Cathal and the Great Wall of National Geographics. Maud is caught by the Flood family drama, like the accident that killed Mary, but her nosiness is not appreciated by Cathal. Little by little, Cathal and Maud begin to connect as Cathal paints her portrait and tells her stories.

Maud is often in the company of a coterie of saints only she can see, such as St Dymphna, who on occasion offer valuable advice, warnings and insights at critical times. Maud's colourful agoraphobic, transgender landlady, Renata, is certain murder has been done in Bridlemere, and whilst Maud is unconvinced, soon a board is set up charting the progress of their investigation. Maud meets Cathal's estranged son, and finds herself getting involved with Sam Hebdon. Maud is surrounded by a web of deceit, betrayal, loss and the increasing presence of danger swirling all around her, where not everyone is as they appear. Bridlemere is a home overflowing with grief, loss and pain. Running parallel in the narrative is the dark and haunting past of Maud in Ireland, when as a 7 year old child, her sister, Deirdre, disappeared.

This was a great read, but it fails to climb the heights of the magical brilliance that is Himself. There are similar themes, characters and style present here, but it somehow lacks the same alchemy of Kidd's debut. There were occasions when the writing felt a little more laboured and perhaps there was an absence of greater creativity. Don't get me wrong, I still loved it enough to give it 5 stars, and Jess Kidd is undoubtedly imaginative, I just hope she either has something more to offer or she takes on something significantly more different in her next book. In any case, I will be wanting to read her next book as soon as it becomes available! I did absolutely adore the characters of Cathal and Renata. A wonderful read that I recommend highly! Many thanks to Canongate for an ARC.

The spellbinding tale of a lonely caregiver and a cranky hoarder with a house full of secrets.

Maud Drennan is a dedicated caregiver whose sunny disposition masks a deep sadness. A tragic childhood event left her haunted, in the company of a cast of prattling saints who pop in and out of her life like tourists. Other than visiting her agoraphobic neighbor, Maud keeps to herself, finding solace in her work and in her humble existence-until she meets Mr. Flood.

Cathal Flood is a menace by all accounts. The lone occupant of a Gothic mansion crawling with feral cats, he has been waging war against his son’s attempts to put him into an old-age home and sent his last caretaker running for the madhouse. But Maud is this impossible man’s last chance: if she can help him get the house in order, he just might be able to stay. So the unlikely pair begins to cooperate, bonding over their shared love of Irish folktales and mutual dislike of Mr. Flood’s overbearing son.

Still, shadows are growing in the cluttered corners of the mansion, hinting at buried family secrets, and reminding Maud that she doesn’t really know this man at all. When the forgotten case of a missing schoolgirl comes to light, she starts poking around, and a full-steam search for answers begins.

Packed with eccentric charms, twisted comedy, and a whole lot of heart, Mr. Flood’s Last Resort is a mesmerizing tale that examines the space between sin and sainthood, reminding us that often the most meaningful forgiveness that we can offer is to ourselves.

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