The String Diaries - Stephen Lloyd Jones

So, I probably shouldn’t have started this book when my husband was out of town. My comfy hundred and something-year-old house seems especially creaky and scary when I am alone in my room late at night reading a gruesome book about shape shifters, secret societies, and murder. Add to that the astonishing idea that the murderer can transform into the body of your loved one, and you pretty much have me pacing the floors and checking more than once or twice to make sure the kiddies are ok. But, in my defense, (again) I did not go back and remind myself what the book was about, so I honestly wasn’t prepared. I try to read the books I get from NetGalley in their publishing order, as close as I can to the date, so when I added this one to my “currently reading” tab in goodreads, I thought, ah, what a nice looking cover, must be about knitting.


So no, not really. This book is a perfect example of a writer who got rid of the boring exposition and jumped directly into the action. For the first couple of pages, I had to remind myself to breath. And, after I got over the initial shock about the “not a book about knitting” thing, I started to enjoy it. It was another one of those stories that switches back and forth chronology-wise, and I thought this worked very well in some places, but not so much in others. After a while we can tell what year it is based on the characters, but sometimes the switch can be jarring, especially the first time it happens — when we go straight from a life or death car ride to a sleepy college campus. I mean, I was kind of relieved, because I could breath again, but still.


For the most part, I loved the characters in this book, so if it is the first in a series, I would definitely want to read the next one. There were a few things I didn’t feel were as well developed as the rest of the story; including the Eleni, a secret society whose origins were a little vague to me. There were also, I thought, some inconsistencies toward the end that I found distracting, but I will not detail them here since for the most part this is very suspenseful. I was hoping for a less neatly tied up ending, and for some reason, after the wild ride I had been through, the last scenes seemed to drag.


While I understand that the author has imagined a unique people, society, etc., I am really picky about words that are invented (or in Hungarian and not translated) that I cannot pronounce in my head while I am reading. I find these umlaut-filled words distracting, especially if they have no accessible meaning to me. I feel like I am playing foreign language mad-libs, and I have to guess the meaning of the unpronounceable word based on its context. These italicized words mock me, seemingly saying, you will never find me in your cheesy kindle dictionary. Yes, I’m a baby, I know, but there are people who might stop reading when this happens, I persevere.


Despite this, it was a thrill to read, even if I spent a lot of time double-checking the locks on the doors and the windows, and wanting to wake up my children to teach them how to validate me… just read it, you’ll understand later.