Synopsis (from Goodreads): While appraising old and rare books at a restored colonial plantation, a book collector stumbles across a series of diaries that chronicle an alien visitation in 1781.
A mysterious elderly stranger offers Colin Brayton, a bookstore owner, the job of appraising old books at a desolate colonial plantation. While working on the books, Colin stumbles across a series of diaries written in the late 1770s by fourteen-year-old Kate Dibble that chronicle an alien visitation.
Colin attempts to navigate a delicate balance between solving the mystery of the diary and simmering tensions with the beautiful, but aloof caretaker, Madeline Prentice. The strained relationship reaches a boiling point as a thunderstorm descends over the desolate property and prevents them from leaving. A malicious winged being emerges from the storm and demands the presence of The Ancient One in three days. When the diary hints of a buried spaceship, Colin and Maddy must put aside their differences to find the ship for their safety, and solve the mystery of the diary that hints at who The Ancient One is before the being seals their fate.
Genre: Science Fiction with aspects of Paranormal, Romance, Historical Fiction, and Mystery
If asked to describe The Alien Diaries in a single word, I would go with “shocking”.
From the first chapter to the last, there were too many twists, surprises, and unexpected developments to count. Initially, I was unsure about this book, but after a few chapters I was inevitably drawn in and ended up enjoying it a lot.
There are a couple different storylines interwoven in The Alien Diaries. The dominant one tells of Colin and Maddy, a pair of contemporary, just-like-everyone-else characters who face extraordinary circumstances. Both flee uncomfortable lives in order to work for a mysterious millionaire: Colin appraising antique books, and Maddy as caretaker of an abandoned estate. The first catch is that they work on a remote plantation in backwoods Virginia, isolated from modern civilization. Next, their employer insists that they wear eighteenth century clothing at all times, and as much as possible live as if it were the late 1700s. As Colin and Maddy explore their new residence, they find more things that do not quite seem to add up: light fixtures which should not exist in a house either abandoned since or restored to resemble the 1700s, suggestions of strange animals around, and weather incongruent with the surrounding area.
Colin’s main job is to analyze and catalogue old books in the house, so when he comes across the journal of a girl named Kate from the time period his employer is obsessed with, he is understandably intrigued. The more he and Maddy read of this journal, some things about their situation start to make sense, while others even less than before.
Kate’s story is revealed alongside Colin and Maddy’s. The pacing is done very well, so that relevant details from one timeline show up to help explain what is happening in the other. There is suspense, but nothing truly frightening.
The only major drawback to me is that the amount of layers to the story become overwhelming. First there are two timelines, then science fiction elements, paranormal creatures, and finally angels. I am still a bit confused as to why, in a story that even has “alien” in its name, would the otherworldly beings turn out to be angels? There are already so many things going on when this is revealed, including elements which affect how history is viewed. Attempting to add in Biblical motifs and turning the aliens into angels (and loosely interpreted ones at that) is just too much. In my opinion, it would be better to stick to aliens, or write another story about angels.
I will say, too, that the opening is rough. Not only was it far from what I expected, it just did not grab my attention. It was so far from what I anticipated that I was honestly a little annoyed when I started reading. Granted, once I got a few chapters in and understood the back-and-forth nature of the timelines, it made sense and I appreciate the style. This is definitely one of those stories that picks up as it goes; you just have to get through the opening first.
Some of the things that happen in The Alien Diaries are just plain weird. If adventure, sci-fi, and unusual things are what you enjoy reading, then this is definitely for you. Devlin provides a book packed with action, intrigue, adventure, and suspense, skillfully weaving together multiple timelines and elements from various literary genres. It can be a bit much if you aren’t really into it, but if you are, then this exciting book deserves a spot on your shelves.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.