15 September 2016

Review #525: The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"I could never be on stage on my own. But puppets can say things that humans can't say."

----Nina Conti

Keith Donohue, an American best-selling novelist, spins a thoroughly engrossing part-horror-part-mystery book, The Motion of Puppets where the author weaves a slightly gripping tale about a newly married couple's dilemma when the wife goes missing and surprisingly she turns into a puppet, leaving the husband on a trail through the city's darkest alleys to the trending ones, until his belief comes true about his wife.


From the bestselling author of The Boy Who Drew Monsters and The Stolen Child comes a modern take on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth—a suspenseful tale of romance and enchantment

In the Old City of Qu├ębec, 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 find his wife, and of a woman trapped in a magical world where her life is not her own.

Kay and Theo has shifted to the Canadian province of Quebec soon after their wedding, where Kay used to work in a theater group as an acrobat and Theo used to work from home by translating the life story of a pioneering photographer, Eadweard Muybridge. But one night, Kay goes missing, after being chased down by a man, when she takes shelter into the comfort of her favorite toy shop with a range of colorful puppets on its display. Theo upturns the whole city in order to find his loving wife, with a faith that she isn't dead but somehow turned into a puppet herself and that he needs to rescue her, but how?

The author's previous book, The Boy Who Drew Monsters left me frightened to the very core and enthralled as well as intrigued me till the very last, thereby turning me in to a hardcore fan of the author, and have been vouching to read his upcoming books for quite a while now. Sadly, his new book did not live up to my exceeding expectations, also the book doesn't belong to the horror genre, instead its a sweet love story interlaced in an unraveling mystery. Nonetheless, the story is emotional with a hint of fear and anticipating suspense and will keep the readers engaged till the very end.

The author's writing style is eloquent and emotional enough to make the readers feel deeply for the story line as well as for the characters. The narrative of the book is projected in an arresting manner, although at times, it lacked depth or logic, and flowed in its own terms, that might leave the readers baffled. The pacing of the book is smooth as the author unwraps the mystery through many layers and twists while referencing a famous and an age old Greek mythological story about a loving couple. The tone of the book is slightly eerie yet most of the time, the plot evoked a sense of desire, longing and romanticism between two newlyweds who are separated by a mystical circumstance.

The mystery, depicted by the author, is full of twists and turns and is unraveled one layer after another, rising the intensity of suspense as the readers delve deeper into the core. The readers are left anticipating for the next clue until the author surprises and blows the readers minds off with an unpredictable twist and the whole journey of Theo finding Kay feels like riding high on a roller coaster passing through owl towns, gorgeous architecture, captivating landscapes and finally emerging into the dark and twisted world of puppets, puppeteers and making of papier mache and wooden puppets.

The characters from the book are well crafted out from realism, honesty and psychological flaws. The main characters, Kay and Theo, both are developed with depth and enough back story so that the readers feel connected to those two characters. Kay's demeanor is evolving right from the very start as she begins to feel for the love that she always had for the world of puppets, thereby erasing the love for her husband, Theo. On the other hand, Theo remain attached and devoted to his missing wife, yet his faith never once falters all through out the plot. The supporting characters, especially the puppet characters are extremely delightful and cheers and lightens up the darkness with their pleasing demeanor.

In a nutshell, the story is compelling and riveting yet romantic with a dash of being scary and challenging, and fans of mystery and thrillers may find this book appealing.

Verdict: Charming tale of love, fantasy, mystery and horror.

Courtesy: I'd like to thank the author, Keith Donohue, for providing me with an ARC of his book.

Author Info:
Keith Donohue is an American novelist. His acclaimed 2006 novel The Stolen Child, about a changeling, was inspired by the Yeats poem of the same name. His second novel, Angels of Destruction, was published in March 2009.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he earned his B.A. and M.A. from Duquesne University and his Ph.D. in English from The Catholic University of America.
Currently he is Director of Communications for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the grant-making arm of the U. S. National Archives in Washington, DC. Until 1998 he worked at the National Endowment for the Arts and wrote speeches for chairmen John Frohnmayer and Jane Alexander, and has written articles for the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and other newspapers.
Visit him here

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