Book Review: Written in the Blood

written in the blood

Written in the Blood, by Stephen Lloyd Jones, is proof that a book can be as scary as a film. Full of shadowy, shape shifting creatures that possess untold, supernatural powers the plot moves along at a breathtaking pace. Each of the various groups described seem intent on hunting out and mercilessly killing, their travails tightly written and frighteningly descriptive. Moving across centuries and continents the reasons behind their exploits unfold gradually with each chapter set in a place and time that reveals a little more of the whole whilst leaving the reader eager to continue.

Set fifteen years after the authors debut work, The String Diaries, this sequel focuses on Hannah and Leah’s attempts to prevent the eventual demise of the hosszú életek, a long living species of which they are a part. A new adversary is introduced in this book, an ancient and near extinct species that feeds on the long lives. Along with the infighting of the pure blooded leaders and the vengeance sought by their outcasts it was sometimes difficult to keep track of the dangers that each enemy presented to our protagonists.

This was a more mature work than its prequel. The power struggles and nebulous justifications of the hosszú életek as they banished or killed miscreants reminded me of the medieval Jews or twentieth century Nazis with their desire to maintain the order and purity of their kind at whatever cost. This aspect did not make for comfortable reading. Despite the veneer of sympathy and civility I also questioned the difference, other than available time and therefore desperation for a solution, between the work being done by the breeding women and that of the seemingly more animalistic lélek tolvajok. Neither killed gratuitously; both would accept whatever sacrifice was required to save the lives of their children.

As with all the best horror stories there was enough in this tale to make it appear believable. The tension was unrelenting, outcomes unflinching. The ability of the protagonists to survive some of the assaults did however require something of a leap of faith.

By the end of the book I questioned the inclusion of only one strand, Leah’s visit to the old professor. Unlike its prequel this story contained few references to those who existed outside of the societies battling for survival. Some simavér became fodder, a micro bus owner offered a tantalising suggestion of a link to another tale. I do not know if the author’s third book is a continuation but there is certainly scope for a further instalment. I for one would be eager to read it should it ever be written.

This dark and compelling tale proves that SLJ’s skills as a writer are burgeoning. I thoroughly enjoyed this latest, chilling offering. Read it, if you dare.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Headline.

Author Interview: Stephen Lloyd Jones

Steve Jones photo

A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to be invited to take part in a Blog Tour being organised by Headline Publishing for one of their new books, ‘The String Diaries’, by Stephen Lloyd Jones. I recently reviewed and very much enjoyed this book so was happy to take part. I decided that I would like my contribution to be an interview with the author to add to the series that I have been running. ‘The String Diaries’ is Stephen’s debut novel so this seemed to fit with my wish to interview a variety of writers at different stages in their careers.

As with many authors, Stephen also has a day job. I am somewhat in awe of someone who can produce such a tightly written, fast paced, engrossing and complex tale in the midst of a life filled with family and other work commitments. As well as ‘The String Diaries’, Stephen has found the time to write a sequel, due to be published later this year.

Without further ado then, let us find out more about the man behind the book.

Please welcome to neverimitate, Stephen Lloyd Jones.

Where do you typically write?

I’m currently writing this in a coffee shop, next to a large latte. I like to work in different places but I do the bulk of my writing on the sofa at home, the laptop propped on a cushion. With the exception of rodeo riding, it’s probably the worst way of treating your spine possible. I urgently need to buy a desk, but at the moment there’s nowhere to put it.

Tell us about your writing process.

It usually starts with a single image – a snapshot of a scene. That percolates for a couple of months until I begin to sense the story and the characters around it. I don’t need to have everything worked out before I start, but I do like a rough sense of where I’m going. Once the actual writing begins I can motor along fairly comfortably, averaging a few thousand words a day.

Tell us about your publishing experience.

I used to walk past the offices of Headline Publishing on the way to work and fantasise about being called there to a meeting one day. When my agent phoned and told me I had a deal with them, it was a surreal moment. Shocking and thrilling. I was standing outside a pub with the guys from work, a few hundred yards from the Headline building. It felt like my life had just jumped out of the tracks.

In what ways do you promote your work?

With any opportunity I try to decide whether it’s going to be more beneficial than spending the time writing. There are so many ways and so much time you can devote to it, that if you’re not careful you’ll find you’ve stopped producing any actual work. I’ve worked in media all my adult life and although it’s oft quoted it’s true nonetheless: the most powerful advertising is word of mouth. It’s human nature to share positive experiences. What matters most is creating the best experiences you can with the talent you have.

What are some of your current projects?

I’ve just delivered the sequel to ‘The String Diaries’ to Headline. It’s called ‘Written In The Blood’, and is out on 6th November. Now that’s done, I’m starting work on my third novel. It’s an idea I’ve had for a while, and I’m incredibly excited about it.

Where can my readers find you?

My website is  www.StephenLloydJones.com.

I’m on twitter as Stephen Lloyd Jones (@sljonesauthor).

‘The String Diaries’ can be purchased from the publisher, Amazon, and all good book retailers.

 

Stephen Jones was born in 1973 and grew up in Chandlers Ford, Hampshire. He studied at Royal Holloway College, University of London and is the director of a major London media agency. He lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons and far too many books.

‘The String Diaries’ is his first novel and Headline are delighted to announce that Stephen’s next novel, ‘Written in the Blood’, will be published in hardback on 6th November this year.

 

 

The String Diaries PB  Blog Tour Poster

Book Review: The String Diaries

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The String Diaries, by Stephen Lloyd Jones, succeeds in finding an original space in the popular genre of fast paced thriller. As with many good books the plot is not constrained by this single label, touching on horror, mystery and folklore as the tale unfolds. The bare bones of the climax may be inevitable, but the denouement is not.

The story moves across Northern Europe, between the late nineteenth century and the present day. It describes how generations of a family have been hunted and killed by an elusive being of which little is known outside of a series of diaries, which are guarded as the only means of warning for those left behind when the killer strikes. Historical records mention a tale that is widely believed to be fanciful folklore; the family diaries detail the frightening truth.

At times the actions of the present day hunted can appear overwrought. I did not warm to the heroine, finding the supporting cast more rounded and believable. Having said that though, she was the one to have suffered the most, she had the most to lose. None of us can know how we would act under such circumstances.

The book is long at well over six hundred pages, but the writing is tight and the build up and background added authenticity. If anything I would have welcomed more detail on some of the groups which became key as the plot progressed. The world that the author created captured my interest and imagination. I am left wondering how the society functioned prior to the initial time frame described in this book, something that is touched on only briefly. I wonder why they evolved as they did, what purpose they served.

I felt ambivalence over the denouement. The lack of satisfactory explanation detracted from the potential for plausibility. I wanted to know how the apparent contradiction could have happened. The whole tale required a leap of faith, but I did not find this an issue due to the details provided which were lacking at the end.

This did not, however, spoil what had gone before. The author has created an intriguing world in which I was happy to immerse myself. The String Diaries is a riveting read.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Headline.