If there's anything the frightened characters in Jones' first novel learn, it's not to trust anyone unless they can tell you what you got for your last birthday or what size shoes you wear.
The book opens with a terrified Hannah Wilde driving her badly bleeding husband, Nate, and young daughter, Leah, to a remote Welsh farmhouse in the dead of night to escape an unmentionable threat. Sebastien, an elderly neighbor with wicked eyes and a friendly dog, soon arrives to see what's up. Is he part of the evil, centuries-old plot against her family? Hannah points a shotgun at him first and asks questions later. Cut to Oxford in 1979, when Charles Meredith, a professor of medieval history, meets cute with Nicole Dubois, a French counterpart with secrets to hide. Racing after her car in his, he causes a wreck that she miraculously escapes—along with her scary mother. The third strand of the plot takes us back to late-19th-century Hungary, where a pent-up young man assumes other people's identities by submitting to the agony of shape-shifting. Back and forth things go, one story hooking up with the other. Give credit to Jones for coming up with a supernatural tale that's so ambitious and off the beaten path, and for portraying Hannah and her brood so affectingly. But after a nifty, nerve-wracking start, the novel loses its liveliness. For all the fear that gets stirred up, the outcome could not be more mundane.
An enjoyable ride, but the book runs out of energy and surprises just when it should be gaining steam.