4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
A quotation on the cover of this book claims that it is too terrifying to read late into the night. Now I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to horror films and television, or even video games, but not normally books. With books, you can imagine scenarios exactly how you want to.
That technique did not work with The String Diaries.
It’s been a long while since a book seriously creeped me out. This got to the point that I had to stop reading it for several days whilst my flatmate was away, because I couldn’t read it in the evening knowing that I would be alone in the flat that night. It was that bad. The idea of Jakab, the antagonist, being able to take on the appearance of anyone at all, replacing the lives of Hannah’s friends, relatives, neighbours, her closest loved ones, without her knowing, was truly terrifying. Give me monsters, demons, whatever – human beings are the scary ones.
The String Diaries is set in various locations, across several generations. From present day Wales and France, to 1970s Oxford (these chapters mentioned my workplace, so I heartily approved!), to nineteenth century Hungary, the story weaves its way through the lives of one family and how one man has hunted them over the generations. Initially, I did not enjoy the chapters set in Hungary as much, but as they built up Jakab to be this terrifying character and demonstrated just what he was prepared to do, I found myself more and more enthralled. And despite spanning several generations and countries, the book felt almost claustrophobic to me, as if I were the one trapped in a cabin on a Welsh mountainside, rather than Hannah.
I enjoyed The String Diaries a lot more than I expected – and I also did not expect to feel that terrified by it! To me that shows that Stephen Lloyd Jones is a great writer, although the ending of the story felt a little like a deus ex, and left me unsure as to how the series could progress. However, I would definitely recommend this one if you’re looking for something scary, or something that incorporates folklore.