Generations of a family are plagued by a Hungarian horror in this gripping, multi-stringed thriller. The Hosszu Eletek – the “long lifes” – are a subspecies of humanity, blessed with great longevity, who possess the power to heal themselves and alter their appearance at will. Unfortunately for Hannah Wilde, the one known as Jakab is insane, and has been stalking and murdering her family since the late 19th century.
The String Diaries is a page turner, and will keep you awake late into the night. This is not for its mild horror content, but mainly because the multiple storylines it presents – modern-day UK, late 19th century Hungary and points between – are thoroughly engaging – to a point. For here the book also lets us down, as Jakab’s backstory turns out to be simply a chronicle of his budding evil, passing up several opportunities for twists in favour of a predictable throughplot.
The impact is somewhat further lessened by dubious usage of language; in the main, the use of words that don’t mean quite what the author thinks they mean. Although we did read a proof copy (so that issue might have been fixed by the time the book hits the shelves), such dodgy wordery shouldn’t get to this late stage. It’s a shame, as Jones’s otherwise solid writing is one of several positive attributes that takes The String Diaries some way to being a standout read.
Guy Haley twitter.com/GuyHaley
Read more of our book reviews .