This fast moving novel straddles many different genres - it is part thriller, part supernatural fantasy and also touches on historical fiction. What is certain is that the whole is more than the sum of the parts. We are immediately thrown into the action, meeting Hannah Wilde, her injured husband Nate and nine year old daughter Leah when they are fleeing for their life. For some time we are unsure about why they are on the run and, more to the point, who (or what) they are trying to escape from. However, their sense of urgency and fear is palpable and you find yourself being swept along into the story.
There are three timelines by which we learn about what is going on. One storyline, concerning Hannah and her family, is set in the present. There is also the tale of Hannah's parents, which largely takes place in 1970's Oxford. Lastly, there is a third, which takes place in Hungary in the 1870's. It is difficult to discuss these various strands of the novel without giving away the plot, so suffice to say that gradually the mystery of why Hannah is running is revealed. A tragedy, beginning in Hungary, so long ago, has followed Hannah's family through the ages. For generations, Hannah's family has relied on escape; but now she faces the final outcome, as events conspire on a collision course which will end in either disaster or freedom from the curse which she has lived with all her life.
As other reviewers have quite rightly pointed out, there are moments when you do need to suspend disbelief and simply go with the flow of the book. What is without doubt is that this is a huge novel which I found almost unputdownable. It really would be a fantastic holiday read, or on a long plane journey. This is an extremely self assured debut novel and I look forward to reading more from this author.