The String Diaries

The String Diaries

4.2 23
by Stephen Lloyd Jones

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A family is hunted by a centuries-old monster: a man with a relentless obsession who can take on any identity.

The String Diaries opens with Hannah frantically driving through the night—her daughter asleep in the back, her husband bleeding out in the seat beside her. In the trunk of the car rests a cache of diaries dating back 200 years,


A family is hunted by a centuries-old monster: a man with a relentless obsession who can take on any identity.

The String Diaries opens with Hannah frantically driving through the night—her daughter asleep in the back, her husband bleeding out in the seat beside her. In the trunk of the car rests a cache of diaries dating back 200 years, tied and retied with strings through generations. The diaries carry the rules for survival that have been handed down from mother to daughter since the 19th century. But how can Hannah escape an enemy with the ability to look and sound like the people she loves?

Stephen Lloyd Jones's debut novel is a sweeping thriller that extends from the present day, to Oxford in the 1970s, to Hungary at the turn of the 19th century, all tracing back to a man from an ancient royal family with a consuming passion—a boy who can change his shape, insert himself into the intimate lives of his victims, and destroy them.

If Hannah fails to end the chase now, her daughter is next in line. Only Hannah can decide how much she is willing to sacrifice to finally put a centuries-old curse to rest.

Editorial Reviews

David Pitt - Booklist
...this is a scary and exciting horror novel that keeps us off-kilter, as we try to figure out what’s going on until we’re so involved in the story that we couldn’t look away even if we tried. Rather than tell us everything we need to know about the history of Hannah’s family at the very beginning of the book, as many writers might have, Jones doles out information a bit at a time, asking us to glean knowledge from dialogue and subtext. This is Jones’ first novel, and you don’t see many debuts more ambitious and memorable than this one.
Publishers Weekly
British author Jones’s debut, an uneven paranormal thriller, fails to live up to the promise of its exciting first chapter. In present-day Wales, Hannah Wilde; her husband, Nate, who’s bleeding to death; and their nine-year-old daughter, Leah, are on the run from an unknown enemy. Chapter two flashes back to 1979 Balliol College, Oxford, where academic Charles Meredith, anxious about delivering a high-profile lecture, is unsettled by Nicole Dubois, an attractive woman who has taken over the library table he’s accustomed to using. Though Nicole continues to vex Charles, he finds himself fascinated with her, to the point of chasing her car at high speed when she flees town. The suspense builds, but not everyone will be satisfied with the eventual explanation for all these strange incidents. The sections set in the more distant past, starting in 1873 Hungary, drag, and the prose verges on the purple (e.g., “Teeth rained from his mouth, clattering onto the floorboards like ivory dice”). (July)
Marcus Sakey
"I loved this book."
SFX magazine
"A gripping, multi-stringed thriller...THE STRING DIARIES is a page-turner, and will keep you awake well into the night."
Benjamin Percy
"I have never read a book with such frenzied impatience. The String Diaries is unputdownable. Stephen Lloyd Jones has written a debut novel as frightening and layered as Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian and as clever and riveting as Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code."
From the Publisher
"The String Diaries is terrifying, and deliciously so . . . A sophisticated horror story that induces elemental terror. It's perfect for the beach, particularly since you don't want to be alone with it in the dark."—Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News"

This is a book of authorial wizardry, as Jones hopscotches among three time periods and locales (late 1800s Hungary; 1970s France and England; and present-day Snowdonia, in northern Wales) with grace, wit and dexterity."—Joy Tipping, Dallas Morning News"

[A] globe-trotting, time-traveling page-turner . . . An elegant and exotic neo-Gothic horror story . . . May bring to mind Elizabeth Kostova's [book] The Historian. . . . Jones's descriptions [are] fabulous . . . Like the best Gothic storytellers, Jones's characters feel things deeply and dramatically. . . . An exciting ride."—Margie Romero, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette"

Jones doles out his narrative revelations with patience, turning over his cards deliberately like a well-trained casino dealer."—Entertainment Weekly"

The String Diaries is an engrossing, mind-bending supernatural tale, and Stephen Lloyd Jones is as exciting a new voice as I've come across in some time, a writer who understands what makes the pulse race."—Michael Koryta, author of Those Who Wish Me Dead"

I have never read a book with such frenzied impatience. The String Diaries is unputdownable. Stephen Lloyd Jones has written a debut novel as frightening and layered as Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian and as clever and riveting as Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code."—Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon, The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh"

Reading The String Diaries made me feel, in the best sense, like a child again. Nothing was more important than the fate of Stephen Lloyd Jones's courageous and very human heroine Hannah Wilde. Meals went uncooked, bills went unpaid, as I waited to find out if she would win freedom for herself and her daughter against the forces of darkness. I was scared, enthralled and amazed by this stunning debut."—Margot Livesey, author of the New York Times bestselling The Flight of Gemma Hardy"

I loved this book."—Marcus Sakey, author of Brilliance

Kirkus Reviews
If there's anything the frightenedcharacters in Jones' first novel learn, it's not to trust anyone unless theycan tell you what you got for your last birthday or what size shoes you wear.The book opens with a terrifiedHannah Wilde driving her badly bleeding husband, Nate, and young daughter,Leah, to a remote Welsh farmhouse in the dead of night to escape anunmentionable threat. Sebastien, an elderly neighbor with wicked eyes and afriendly 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 andasks questions later. Cut to Oxford in 1979, when Charles Meredith, a professorof medieval history, meets cute with Nicole Dubois, a French counterpart withsecrets to hide. Racing after her car in his, he causes a wreck that shemiraculously escapes—along with her scary mother. The third strand of the plottakes us back to late-19th-century Hungary, where a pent-up young man assumesother people's identities by submitting to the agony of shape-shifting. Backand forth things go, one story hooking up with the other. Give credit to Jonesfor coming up with a supernatural tale that's so ambitious and off the beatenpath, and for portraying Hannah and her brood so affectingly. But after anifty, nerve-wracking start, the novel loses its liveliness. For all the fearthat gets stirred up, the outcome could not be more mundane.An enjoyable ride, but the book runsout of energy and surprises just when it should be gaining steam.

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Jones studied at Royal Holloway College, University of London and is the director of a major London media agency. This is his first novel.

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The String Diaries 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
ABookVacation More than 1 year ago
Imagine being hunted by a shape shifter–you’d never know your enemy, they could silently become a loved one at any moment, getting close to you without sparking an inkling of suspicion until it’s too late. Imagine a life where you’re forced to constantly pay attention to every small detail and validate everyone who crosses your path, being on the run to stay ahead of a crazed killer intent on reuniting with his love from so long ago… so is the story of Jakab, a sociopathic shape shifter obsessed with the female lineage of one specific family. Of Hannah’s family. This novel opens in a whirl as Hannah drives recklessly towards an abandoned farmhouse, her husband bleeding out in the passenger seat while her nine year old daughter sleeps in the back. Fraught with danger, this novel exemplifies the creep factor, and as I read it late at night, I was constantly on watch as Jakab sent fear coursing throughout my body as I turned the pages. Told in alternating timelines, both present and past, the novel sucks readers in from the get go. The characters and events within the story are puzzle pieces waiting so patiently to be put together, and as the tale weaves in and out, readers learn of what hunts Hannah, how Jakab came to be, what lore resides behind shape shifters, and the faction that plans to finally finish wiping the seemingly immortal shifters from the world. Intense and amazing, this is a must read novel that kept me on my toes as it unfolded. I loved putting the pieces together, learning about Hannah’s current story, that of her parent’s in the 1970s, and that of Jakab as he became the sinister, sociopathic enemy that he truly is. You wont be able to stop reading once you start, and I highly suggest you pick up this amazing read stat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a fast pace book and hard to put down after the first page. It did jump from past to present but in a very smooth transition,. The ending was totally unexpected; I really enjoyed this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well developed story and great characters. Suspenseful. You won't be able to put it down once you start reading it. Can't wait for more books from this author.
tpolen More than 1 year ago
This book just hooked me from the first page and I can't say I've ever read anything quite like it. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Trust no one". Although some readers may not enjoy the way this book alternates time periods, I thought it was essential to the story as details were gradually revealed, making it more suspenseful than if told in a linear fashion. The author did a superb job of making me empathize with Hannah, so my heart was racing in some parts of this book and at other times I was close to needing kleenex. The action scenes were skillful, well thought out, and highly visual, the protagonist very strong, and the antagonist relentless. As a debut novel, I thought it was fast-paced, the writing evocative, and I would absolutely read more books by this author. With the blending of genres - thriller, suspense, urban fantasy, and supernatural elements - this book would please many readers and I highly recommend it. This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Everything I enjoy in a book: got me in the first few pages, easy to follow, suspenseful, page-turner (up until 2am every night!), real feel for the characters. What else can I say? You won't be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This one keeps you on edge all the way thru. Can not wait for another. This is scary...different...intriguing...sleepless...could not put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It paints a wonderful picture of times gone by, of forgotten cultures and past histories. It is vivid, colorful, descriptive, and really, really creepy. The author is skilled at painting detailed landscapes and scenarios so that the reader has a crystal clear impression of the story being told and the characters therein. His heroine is strong and brave, yet as vulnerable as anyone else. His villain is malicious and deranged, yet there is a shred of pity and sadness about him. All in all, this book generates in the reader a strong range of emotions. Its a great read, very hard to put down and I cant wait for his next book! For a first novel, it is an exceptional effort.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Suspense, great story telling, liked it a lot
Anonymous 26 days ago
Great read had me on edge. Felt like they were also after me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great suspenseful read that is long enough to last a while
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Judy Bozarth More than 1 year ago
Reading this book was like riding a roller coaster. It kept you on your toes as you bounced from time period to time period with an array of interesting characters. Sometimes I found myself a little lost in the intricacies of the history behind the characters however I easily found my way out with the explanations and action which resulted. As I read this book I found myself reading increasingly fast to get to the next scene. It took some terrific twists and turns but I can see where the author was laying the groundwork for the next book. I could almost see this as a movie as I read along - in fact I've cast the characters in my mind already. It was a great read and look forward to the sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting story that keeps you reading. I would have liked a little more character development, but would recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was ok. It had an interesting and unique plot but in the end I was left feeling a bit unsatisfied. I don't know exactly what the story was missing but something was. I have the sequel on my wish list but I may or may not ever read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept my interest. Strong characters and a interesting story line. Recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reoeat frim thursday
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plus manuscripts and why not ribbons instead of string as ribbons traditional or in folios one needs a score card to keep track as text becomes captions and needs a sound track only for the person who would eat potters jelly beans take a chance on the page flavor which could be ear wax page counter