Secrets, saints, handsome strangers, an eccentric old man and a house filled with rubbish… Jess Kidd pulled me into her world and had me rummaging through the mess with her protagonist, Maud Drennan, as she went about sorting truth from lies. The Hoarder is an amateur sleuth story filled with suspense and loads of dark humour, and honestly, I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a long time! Maybe after three years in Ireland I have a new appreciation for the Irish sayings and references in her book, or maybe it’s Kidd’s engaging, easy-to-read writing style and her host of fascinating characters, but either way, I was hooked from chapter one and the story did not disappoint.
Maud is assigned to work as a carer for the strange and moody Mr Flood and she soon discovers that this retired artist no ordinary old man. Mr Flood lives in Bridlemere, an old manor house in London, where he’s been hoarding everything from empty tuna cans to medical curiosities for over twenty-five years. Undeterred by Mr Flood’s vicious moods and Bridlemere’s out-of-control cat population, the resourceful Maud sets about cleaning the house and taking care of Mr Flood. But then strange things start happening… The house is filled with clues hinting at the mysterious circumstances around Mrs Flood’s death and the estrangement between Mr Flood and his son. Then there’s the connection between the family and the disappearance of a missing schoolgirl, Maggie Dunn… Maud, with the help of her agoraphobic landlady and a host of long-dead saints, is determined to unravel the murky history of Bridlemere and the Floods.
‘ Kidd subtly weaves exquisite details into her story to bring her characters to life.’
I listened to The Hoarder during bus commutes around Dublin and the trips were always too short to satisfy my curiosity. The story is unsettling and grim at times, but despite the dark themes in the book, I often found myself grinning and giggling at Kidd’s quick wit and humour. I particularly enjoyed Aoife McMahon’s narration of the book; I thought she did a fantastic job to bring the story to life. Each character, no matter how small their role, was narrated with attention to inflection, accent and rhythm. It’s one of the better narrations I’ve listened to on Audible.
Kidd won the 2016 Costa Short Story Award for her debut novel Himself and her third novel, Things in Jars, was released earlier in 2019. I’ve already added these to my reading list.
The Hoarder is perfect for the dark winter months ahead! If you enjoy slightly off-beat stories filled with magic realism and mystery, you will enjoy Kidd’s stunning writing. Mystery, intrigue, and a good dose of dark comedy made this one of my favourite books of 2019.
Have you read The Hoarder? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought.