This is a horror type thriller about a shapeshifter hunting down his enemies, through the generations. That’s not what you get when you start reading, but that is where you end up. So, first off, plus points for the change in direction from the (well done) opening passages straight out of a regular thriller that describe Hannah Wilde’s desperate attempts to get to refuge in Snowdonia before her husband dies from his wounds.
From then one, we get alternating threads of the story. There’s a thread set in the 1970s about Professor Charles Meredith and the strange French girl who takes his favorite place in the library, annoys, and intrigues him. Then, the thread about the Hosszu Eletek, and the background of the man who will become Jakab, the bigass baddie.
The back story and emergence of Jakab are not bad at all, but from too early on he becomes something of a caricature. His mania is beyond belief, and is not sustainable because his character development stops dead in its tracks (if you will excuse the metaphor) and he is there as an off scene element.
It’s a similar case with the other characters, who start off well enough, but become somewhat annoying. Hannah is good as she rushes to beat the clock and save her husband. Then she turns into a vehicle for screams and terror, rather than a telling of the story.
As for the string diaries of the title, they were a big disappointment.
And that’s what the book left me with: a sense of disappointment. The cliff hanging chapter endings – though sometimes overdone – were exciting and got me involved in the story. But there was not enough to maintain the interest. The initial disclosure of the ideas was good, but I just did not feel that the author had got the most out of them. It also dragged a bit at the end, and badly missed more spark in the final scenes.
All in all, a missed opportunity.