|The String Diaries
Stephen Lloyd Jones
"It was only when Hannah Wilde reached the farmhouse shortly after midnight that she discovered how much blood her husband had lost."
A family is hunted by a centuries-old monster: a man with a relentless obsession who can take on any identity.
The String Diaries opens with Hannah frantically driving through the night--her daughter asleep in the back, her husband bleeding out in the seat beside her. In the trunk of the car rests a cache of diaries dating back 200 years, tied and retied with strings through generations. The diaries carry the rules for survival that have been handed down from mother to daughter since the 19th century. But how can Hannah escape an enemy with the ability to look and sound like the people she loves?
Stephen Lloyd Jones's debut novel is a sweeping thriller that extends from the present day, to Oxford in the 1970s, to Hungary at the turn of the 19th century, all tracing back to a man from an ancient royal family with a consuming passion--a boy who can change his shape, insert himself into the intimate lives of his victims, and destroy them.
If Hannah fails to end the chase now, her daughter is next in line. Only Hannah can decide how much she is willing to sacrifice to finally put a centuries-old curse to rest.
Have you ever wondered if the person standing next you was who they really said they were? This is the basic premise for this book. There is a race of "people", originating from 19th century Hungary, who have the ability to change their shape and mimic the look and sound of someone else. Shapeshifting isn't a new concept but we don't really come across it much in novels, so this is definitely new and refreshing. I will even go as far as saying this concept was thrilling to me, but with the good comes the bad.
As much as this story propelled me through the book in less than a week, I wasn't as impressed with the development of characters. Yes, I know... it's not that type of book, but I hate having to read a book over 300 pages without some great character development. I felt more connected to the villain of the book than I did the protagonist(s). This might be due to the long cast of characters. We get taken back and forth through time, getting to meet all the past generations of Hannah's family. I loved the history that was thoughtfully put into those parts of the book, and I actually related really well to those characters. Then, we get brought back to the present and I know I SHOULD care about Hannah and her family, but all we get to see is the suspense and terror of them running away. I would have loved to see a little more background on them, how they met? Why does Nate believe her story when her ancestors had a hard time explaining the same to their own betrothed? That was the biggest disappointment for me, I really wanted to care about!
Remember how I said I cared more about the villain? Well, this guy is a complete jerkhead... so caring might be the wrong word. His backstory was my favorite part of the book though, his history starts in early 1900's within this secret group of supernaturals. I wanted to hear more of that background, and I'm actually hoping this book will make a comeback with a sequel that focuses mainly on that group. So I'll ask the Author, please skip the modern day nuanced story-line and stick with the historical fantasy you had me gobbling up. I'm interested to know what other people thought and if they feel the same way as I do. What do you think reader?
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