In his first novel, The String Diaries, British author Stephen Lloyd Jones has created both an innovative storyline and a new creature to fear. The secret to overcoming this monster lies within one family’s weathered, string-tied diaries, which contain meticulously compiled stories, research and theories. But what is it that hunts this family, and why?
Jones imagines a fantastical subset of humans, inspired by Hungarian folklore: the hosszú életek, the “long-lived” ones, who are able to take on the appearance of any individual they please. For three centuries, Hannah Wilde’s ancestors have been sought by Jakab, a degenerate hosszú életek, whose twisted passion quickly led to an abject obsession with the women in Hannah’s family. Now he is fixated on her. Hannah must face this ancient evil or risk losing the love of her life and their daughter. She must use her family’s diaries as a survival guide, learning to trust no one, to verify everyone and, if ever compromised, to run. But with Jakab’s ability to take on the appearance and mannerisms of those she loves, will she have the resilience to make the correct decision?
The String Diaries is a phenomenal read, offering readers a refreshing villain and a thrilling narrative laced with the Gothic: a woman being chased by a tyrannical male of supernatural ability in uninhabited places. Jones dazzles in his ability to make his characters' raw nerves so palpable, the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. The mounting tension throughout the novel is methodically woven through the centuries and the generations, bound together until the final pages. This book will have readers engrossed from start to finish, and hungry for more of Jones’ work.