Published by Headline
Available 29th January 2015
The new, enthralling supernatural thriller from Stephen Lloyd Jones, following his highly acclaimed debut THE STRING DIARIES.
High in the mountains of the Swiss Alps Leah Wilde is about to gamble her life to bring a powerful man an offer. A promise.
Leah has heard the dark stories about him and knows she is walking into the lion’s den. But her options are running out. Her rare lineage, kept secret for years, is under terrible threat. That is, unless Leah and her mother Hannah are prepared to join up with their once deadly enemies.
Should the prey ever trust the predator?
Ok, so here we have a fantasy thriller. Not a genre I would usually have much interest in, but I do like to broaden the old horizons and such, and the synopsis sounded very promising, so I gritted my teeth and jumped in…
Well, my teeth remained as expected for a fair while. I find a good read can become very disheartening when half the time is spent trying to pronounce unfamiliar (or possibly completely made-up) words; and here I had an awful lot of words with just far too many consonants for my liking!
‘Written in the Blood’ tells us the story of Leah Wilde, a young girl from the ‘thingymawhatsit’ race whose skills include being able to change their own features in order to look like absolutely anybody, as well as this whole super long lifespan thing. Unfortunately, Leah’s people are on the brink of extinction, and so she decides to embark on the extremely dangerous task of seeking out women from the ‘whatchamacallit’ people; those originally from the ‘thingymawhatsits’ but outcast due to not abiding by the laws in the ‘doobeychat-thingy’ book… Ok you see what I’m getting at here.
Anyway, all these whatsits and thingums and such meant that it took me roughly a week to get to Chapter 10. That is page 104! It was just such hard work, and I had no clue what they were talking about half the time! Now to be fair I appreciate that there are some people who would positively thrive on all this, those that care for your Eorlingas and Galadrims and Isildurs (Yes, yes I Googled those words!) But now please sympathise with me, because not only was I trying to read all of these fantasy-nonsense words; I was trying to read Hungarian fantasy-nonsense words! It was really quite painstaking.
Nevertheless, I’m a stubborn mare and so I continued. And I must confess, once I decided to start thinking of everyone as the Smiths and the Jones’, it did pave the way for some rather beautiful storytelling. I mean, this book was just a sensory overload! Smells and sounds are given particular emphasis, I think because heightened senses may have been a ‘thingymajig’ power, but the author really was an artist with the descriptives. The prose, in the main, was poetic and majestic, as well as dark, creepy, and unsettling; and the imagery was captivating. And switching attention between Leah and her mission, and corresponding people and events elsewhere in the world, as well as a very intriguing back-story that pulls you back to Budapest in the 1800’s, was very well done and kept things fresh.
It did actually all get a bit exciting as we drew towards the climax. It was really action-packed and I could finally say I was enjoying the book – albeit there were a few things that were left either unexplained or not given enough attention, such as Leah’s not-as-scandalous-as-alluded-to bloodline, oh and her apparent OCD; the Éjszakai Sikolyok being the least dramatic genocide I have ever read of; and being given no real explanation for the lélek tolvajok other than that they are essentially the bogeyman – they’re going to kill you, end of.
Unfortunately I was left with just an overwhelming feeling of relief that I had actually managed to finish the book. Relief that turned into a rage that was accompanied by a whole manner of expletives when I turned the final page of the story… and found the bloody glossary!!!
In all fairness, I liked it enough to know that fans of the genre will love this book. I, as initially suspected, am not a fan of the genre.
My thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.