"A work of evil genius that put me in a literal trance and didn't relinquish me until the final page. I loved every insidious second.” —Mona Awad, author of Bunny
A darkly comic suburban Gothic about a malevolent force that targets a group of Ohio misfits, harnessing their angst for its sinister designs.
Something strange is happening to the teens in Adena, Ohio.
A mysterious force is seeking inroads: vulnerabilities to exploit, friendships to hijack, untapped rage to harness toward its own ends. Who will serve it best? Claire is abrasive and aimless, embarrassed by her privilege. Weak-willed David entertains fantasies of cultish orgies, while Tyler covertly takes up residence in his basement. Greg wages war on the voices in his head, while his sister Beth quietly, furiously unravels. And at the center is the empathetic, naive Sarah. The force wants her most of all. But will she be the key to its success or its destruction?
Eerie, hypnotic, and shot through with dark comedy, String Follow is a razor-sharp suburban gothic that exposes the sweating, bleeding truth of how kids become adults in twenty-first-century America. Simon Jacobs blends the startlingly original and the uncannily familiar, revealing the dark chaos that lurks beneath the surface of Midwestern suburbia.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We don’t quite know what kind of sinister entity is seeping into the lives of this novel’s troubled characters…and that’s what makes it so unsettling. Author Simon Jacobs introduces us to a large ensemble of loosely connected teenagers, including Beth—who lives in terror of her mentally unstable brother’s abuse—and David, whose recent breakup has him obsessed with hateful incel videos. As we learn about each character’s hopes, desires, and sources of torment, we feel a mounting sense of dread. What is the dark, unnamed force that’s quietly watching, influencing the teens’ actions in order to sow heartbreak, violence, and chaos? Jacobs makes an incredibly chilling choice by making the malevolent, eerily aloof being narrate the story. String Follow is an ingeniously fresh and utterly disturbing take on horror.
Jacobs (Palaces) tackles the traumas of adolescence and the desperation of suburban life with this grimy, layered tale. A shadowy, sinister collective entity watches and guides the actions of a group of teens in Adena, Ohio, using the cracks in their relationships to gain purchase within their psyches: tenderhearted Sarah struggles to maintain her sense of self as she deals with manipulation and abuse; Greg grapples with psychosis that drives him toward self-destruction; David becomes obsessed with an online cornucopia of fascist propaganda and bizarre porn, and alienates himself from everybody he knows. The result might be best described as "hangout horror" there's no traditional plot to speak of as Jacobs dips in and out of the characters' lives through the eyes of an invisible watcher. Instead, the narrative wallows in the small-scale routines of its characters as their lives spiral out of control and toxic cycles repeat themselves. Despite some near-Faulknerian passages zeroing in on the characters' twisty inner lives, the meandering prose struggles to maintain momentum. Still, readers looking for a horrific take on coming of age may want to give this a try. Agent: Bill Clegg, the Clegg Agency.