The Stranger Diaries
Author: Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre/Themes: Mystery, Horror
Release Date: March 5th, 2019
Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favourite literature.
To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn’t hers, left on the page of an old diary: “Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me.”
Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?
This book is probably the best mystery novel I’ve read in a while. I love Gothic novels, because it mixes my two favourite genres, horror and mystery. While this book can’t be classified as scary, it still had elements of the supernatural and the atmosphere was really spooky. I was completely enraptured by this book’s premise and I’m happy to say it completely delivered.
This book alternates between the point of view of three women, Clare, an English teacher, her daughter, Georgia, and the detective investigating the murder cases, Harbinder. All three of these women are very different, and they’e very flawed. I love reading from the point of unreliable narrators and all three of them are unreliable in their own way. The characterization was so well done that I felt I knew all of them. Their reactions to each other were so unrealistic and the way their relationships developed with each other was really refreshing.
The plot was also completely engrossing. It was really complex and interspersed with snippets from Clare’s diary and also the fictional horror story, “The Stranger”. The Stranger was an incredible story and it ratcheted up the tension in the novel without the reader ever being able to pinpoint why. We get to read the full story at the end, which was a really nice addition. If R.M. Holland was an actual writer, I’d be reading all his books and stories.
The only con I had with this book was how quickly the book wrapped up. There wasn’t a lot of wrap-up after the killer was unmasked. I didn’t guess the identity of the killer, but I was just savoring the incredible writing and story, so I didn’t try very hard to figure the book out.
I’m such a huge fan of Elly Griffiths now and I’ll be reading all her novels. She is a rare mystery writer who is able to create engaging plots as well as phenomenal writing. This book was such an unexpected surprise and I’ll be recommending it to everyone!
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.