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.


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