Friday, August 4, 2017

The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue

Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 272
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Horror
Synopsis: In the Old City of Québec, Kay Harper falls in love with a puppet in the window of the Quatre Mains, a toy shop that is never open. She is spending her summer working as an acrobat with the cirque while her husband, Theo, is translating a biography of the pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Late one night, Kay fears someone is following her home. Surprised to see that the lights of the toy shop are on and the door is open, she takes shelter inside. 
The next morning Theo wakes up to discover his wife is missing. Under police suspicion and frantic at her disappearance, he obsessively searches the streets of the Old City. Meanwhile, Kay has been transformed into a puppet, and is now a prisoner of the back room of the Quatre Mains, trapped with an odd assemblage of puppets from all over the world who can only come alive between the hours of midnight and dawn. The only way she can return to the human world is if Theo can find her and recognize her in her new form. So begins a dual odyssey: of a husband determined to findhis wife, and of a woman trapped in a magical world where her life is not her own.

Review: Ever since I was a child, puppets and dolls have never failed to creep me out. I remember moving all of my dolls into another room at night because I hated sleeping with them staring at me in the dark. So it might come as a surprise that as a teenager I now love picking up horror novels involving dolls and puppets and all manner of creepy mock-human beings. 

Never enter a toy shop after midnight.

For a horror novel, The Motion of Puppets started of surprisingly slow, but the air of tension and it's macabre nature kept the plot moving. However, that seems to be the only thing that drives the story for a lot of the book. The world building is spotty at best and downright confusing at its worst. The "magic", while intriguing and eerie, are left as a mystery. You never receive the answers you crave, leaving a disappointing feeling to the end of the book.

The puppets are the stars of the show, all of them possessing a unique sense of spunk and personality, even if you lack a necessary understanding of their backgrounds. As for Theo and Kay, I wasn't so enamored. I rooted for Kay's survival, but past that I had no real feeling towards them at all. The main characters are too one-sided to spark any real attachment to them or their stories.

Had you not been born, you would not know that it is like to be alive, and without life, death is impossible to understand.

I was unaware before going into this novel that it is a loose retelling of the Greek Orpheus and Eurydice myth. I love the myth, and while this is an interesting new take on it, The Motion of Puppets is too true the the source material, resulting in an obvious end to an otherwise compelling mystery, like a quest without a resolution. 

The Motion of Puppets drew on my childhood fear of dolls and puppets, but while the bones of the story are fascinating, it didn't touch my heart. It's eerie and dark, but not necessarily memorable.


  1. Dolls and puppets creep me out too! Especially the ventriquoloist ones *shudders* This one sounds good but now that you mention that this is a retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice... the ending is a too obvious now xD I'm still curious on how things will unfold though. Great review Erin!

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress

    1. I remember being scared out of my mind by the Gossebumps books with the ventriloquist dolls. And yeah, you can see the ending coming from a mile away, which is a real downer for this book. It was fun to read, though. Thanks for commenting, Tasya!

  2. I usually don't read horror, but the premise sounds intriguing. Dolls and puppets have always creeped me out. I'm glad you enjoyed it, even though it wasn't the most memorable. Thanks for an awesome and in-depth review. I just stumbled upon your blog, and I'm greatly enjoying its content.

    I'm new to blogging and book reviewing, and I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers and book reviewers.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I'd love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.

    1. I found the actual premise of this book super fascinating and I always wanted to know more about it. But that's why it did disappoint a little in the end, because the things I wanted to know are never really explained. And I'll totally check out your blog! Thanks for commenting!