Star rating: ★★★✰✰
Maud Drennan is a carer who has been sent to take care of Cathal Flood, a hoarder who has chased away all of his previous carers, sometimes with a hockey stick. Cathal is mean, angry, and desperate to keep his secrets just that, secret.
But his house has other ideas. It hints to Maud that there are family secrets to be uncovered. She finds photographs with faces burned out and follows one of Cathal’s many cats to rooms that haven’t been entered in years.
Pushed on by her eccentric neighbour, Renata, Maud tries to figure out what happened to Cathal’s wife and if it has any connection to an old missing girl case, all while dealing with her own past which has a habit of coming back to haunt her, in the form of mischievous spirits.
I don’t really know if I enjoyed The Hoarder or not. I had heard amazing things about Himself, Kidd’s first novel, so I was excited to read this, but it took me longer than I’d like to get into it and even once I was a little invested in it, I still wasn’t sure how much I really cared about the story.
I found it difficult to get into the mystery in this story, the missing girl and the death of Cathal’s wife. Basically, there’s no proof that anything suspicious actually happened, just a photo of a kid with a cigarette burn and Cathal not wanting to talk about it. It’s Renata, Maud’s agoraphobic transgender neighbour, that convinces Maud to pursue it, and she only agrees to do so to shut Renata up, basically. It’s hard to care about a murder-mystery if you’re not even sure there’s been a murder.
In saying that, the further I got into the book the more I started enjoying it. The slow pace that annoyed me at the beginning grew on me and I realised how much it suited the story. It does start to ebb and flow nearer the end, getting more exciting and then pulling back again just when you get most excited. I sometimes forget that a book doesn’t have to have you on the edge of your seat to entertain you.
Renata was my favourite thing about this book, though. She’s funny, caring, and gives the best life advice I’ve ever heard, ‘be sincere and everything else will follow.’ So read it for her alone, if nothing else.
The Hoarder is a good book if you want a little bit of mystery, some funny yet emotional characters, and a little bit of magic.
(Side note: I think this book is called Mr. Flood’s Last Resort in the US, for any American readers.)