The Lightning Stenography Device became existential very fast. Sullivan questions consciousness and the concept of God through the metaphor of writing. The narrative hints at this in different ways throughout the book, but the concept that God might observe us as an author studies and develops characters and plots within the worlds they create is the most complete and compelling. By forcing the characters to question their existence and awareness, the reader too must face these questions. This is a fascinating theme, and one I’ve never encountered before although I must confess having wandered over it in my thoughts while writing. There is, however, a point where it becomes anathema. Characters begin to sound like demented cultists and this, I feel, robs much of the impact from this subject.
This book isn’t what I was expecting at all, but I enjoyed it for the most part. The Lightning Stenography Device explores the narrative of four characters, each of which is compelling and relatable in their own way. These alternate viewpoints produce very different stories, from the eerie to the fantastical. M.F Sullivan’s prose is enchanting to read. The writing style changes according to the tale being told, providing each character with a distinct voice. Thus, while the first section is rather formal, the second is less so. The last section presents a peculiar shift to the utterly fantastical. Since this comprises a little over half the novel, in some ways it makes the previous sections seem like a massive prologue. The Lightning Stenography Device is a gripping novel for intellectual readers, but it left me feeling like I’d been ranted at by a religious fanatic.
I received a free copy of The Lightning Stenography Device from StoryCartel in exchange for an honest review.