Thursday, 17 July 2014

REVIEW - The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones


Thank you to Headline for kindly sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

He has a face you love. 

A voice you trust. 
To survive you must kill him. 
The rules of survival are handed from mother to daughter. 
Inherited, like the curse that has stalked Hannah and her family across centuries. 
He changes his appearance at will, speaks with a stolen voice and hides behind the face of a beloved, waiting to strike. 
Generation after generation, he has destroyed them. 
And all they could do was to run. 
Until now. 
Now, it is time for Hannah to turn and fight.

I'm just going to get this out the way now, my review is in no way going to do this amazing book any justice however I need to tell you about it so badly, I have read only a few books that have truly made me sit and go wow, books that have made me feel bereft after reading them - they include the legendary Lord of the Rings, Hugh Howey's Wool series and Emily St John Mandel's Station Eleven and now my list includes The String Diaries.

It is a hefty book which with some can be a curse the story can get too bogged down in needless paragraphs but The String Diaries propels itself forwards it makes you want to read and read, and at 600 plus pages it is not recommended you start reading it at night time especially if you want to sleep at all!

Anyway I am rambling let's talk about the actual story, it starts off very quickly, Hannah is driving through the night in the Welsh countryside, her husband Nat by her side bleeding profusely from an at the moment unknown injury and their daughter Leah sleeping peacefully in the backseat.  You get the impression straightaway that they are fleeing, running for their lives from an unknown horror.

What they are running from is Jakab, a monster of a man who has been hounding Hannah's family since the 1800's, he is a monster, a devil who has been born in to a line of Hungarian families that have inherited a, I don't know if you can call it a condition but they are called hosszú életek (translated means longevity), they live long lives, can repair their bodies and can change their shape at will, Jakab has been changing his shape since the late 1800's following the death of his one true love, he has tried to find her again in the daughters of her descendants and he uses his special skill to change his body in to the exact form of his unwilling victim to try to get what he wants.

Diaries have been written by the descendants starting with the husband of Jakab's true love and they have been passed down and added to over the decades but the one thing that is constant amongst them is to verify everyone, trust no one and if in any doubt run - As Jakab can change at will as soon as anyone notices a loved one or someone close acting strange they need to ask them questions only they know - Jakab doesn't know everything and that's where he slips up but no matter how far away they run he always finds them.

Hannah is tired, she is fed up with running and of losing loved ones along the way, with the help of family friend Sebastien she tries but fails to keep Jakab at bay, she attempts to kill him but foiled in her attempt she makes a final run for it, hoping she has shaken him off for now.

Jakab is a horrible person, truly selfish, he is given everything by his father but throws away any attempt to become part of the society of hosszú életek choosing to befriend the wrong kind of people which is what leads to his mental breakdown and his rampage through Hannah's family tree.

The String Diaries is a phenomenal read, truly phenomenal and that is not a word I use lightly, it is such an atmospheric book, the world that Stephen has built leaps of the page at you which in the darker parts of the story can lead for some truly scary moments.

The settings too, which you can read about in a post here that Stephen has very kindly written, are just perfect - Snowdonia especially is so remote and feels really quite menacing, the locations just add to the amazing depth that this book has.

All of the characters in the book are well thought out and beautifully described, they vary from innocent to extremely menacing, all of them deserve their place in the amazing ride that is The String Diaries.

This is one of these books that I wished I had a higher star rating for but as I don't it gets the full 5 out of 5 stars, totally breathtaking!





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