Thursday, 18 July 2013

The String Diaries - Stephen Lloyd Jones


The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones was off to a good start with a strong female lead, who was ready to fight with tooth and claw for her family, and a pretty damn scary antagonist. In spite of keeping me on the edge of my seat for most of the time, and nervously checking what was under the bed when it got dark, I decided to give up on The String Diaries. It was just too much.

There is an old Hungarian myth about the Hosszu Eletek, the people who are blessed with a long life, but part of the myth is also how they were brought to a brutal end by the king after a long and uneasy truce. And no, the Hosszu Eletek are not vampires, werewolves or angelic demons. They do live for very long, have the ability to alter their flesh, which means they can change appearance and heal themselves. But they are not vampires. Really.

The String Diaries is a collection of notes by the surviving members of a family of their encounter with one of the Hosszu Eletek who has spent hundreds of years hunting them. The chapters are divided between the members of the family, one for each time period, and the occasional chapter with the protagonist. Stephen Lloyd Jones does a good job of winding back the clock, you do feel the times are different, with terror as the only constant.

The String Diaries is a nerve wracking read, and I raced through the first half of the book in one long evening. Nothing invokes fear like an unseen enemy, one which can even turn out to be your best friend, or even worse, the man you love. It's almost impossible to protect yourself against a shapeshifter, and they certainly do their best, but there is only so paranoid you can be and still maintain a healthy relationship.

It's a well written book, a real fright in the night which is best read with a night light. A book about how an ordinary family has suffered tragedies for many generations but has always found the strength to survive. Sadly, it is also a book about a near immortal being who has nothing better to do with his time than hunt down the women of this family and sexually assault them. I felt I can certainly spend my time in a better way, and I decided to stop reading The String Diaries.

The String Diaries weighs in at 416 pages and is published by Headline.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Drag Hunt - Pat Kelleher


Some books are just a delight to read, a real feel good read which is both fun and serious at the same time, and leaves you with a sense of wonder. Drag Hunt by Pat Kelleher is such a book. Just the blurb left me with a smile. Coyote, the trickster god, has had something very dear stolen from him. His younger brother, his penis.

Drag Hunt is the latest book in the Gods & Monster universe created by Chuck Wendig for Abaddon books. Basically, God threw out all the other gods and mythical beings, and they now find themselves trapped on earth with the rest of us. They are not happy bunnies, and have once again cooked up a nefarious plan. A plan which involves little Coyote.

We'll follow Coyote on a merry chase looking for his lost member, but never lost for words. You cannot say the same about Richard, a mere mortal, who gets dragged into this mess when Coyote tricks him for all his money. The two form a partnership, which at the beginning might not be an equal partnership, but to Coyote's surprise Richard proves his worth.  It's a rather bonkers read where you can expect truly witty comments sprinkled with a few fart jokes, but Drag Hunt also has a more serious side to it. Coyote might favour tricks or ways of humiliating his opponents, but he is a minority. So, don't worry there is suspense and action as well.

Drag Hunt is an easy book to like for its wit, great characters and world-building, which is literally filled with wonders, and it left me with a feeling of happiness. I really hope there will be more by Pat Kelleher in this setting.

Drag Hunt weighs in at 118 pages and is published by Abaddon Books.