The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones

A family is hunted by a centuries-old monster: a man with a relentless obsession who can take on any 18774021identity.

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. – Goodreads.com

This book just hooked me from the first page and I can’t say I’ve ever read anything quite like it.  It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Trust no one”.

Although some readers may not enjoy the way this book alternates time periods, I thought it was essential to the story as details were gradually revealed, making it more suspenseful than if told in a linear fashion.  The author did a superb job of making me empathize with Hannah, so my heart was racing in some parts of this book and at other times I was close to needing kleenex.  The action scenes were skillful, well thought out, and highly visual, the protagonist very strong, and the antagonist relentless.

As a debut novel, I thought it was fast-paced, the writing evocative, and I would absolutely read more books by this author.  With the blending of genres – thriller, suspense, urban fantasy, and supernatural elements – this book would please many readers and I highly recommend it.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

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