Book Review: “The Motion of Puppets”

“Never enter a toy shop after midnight.”

Donohue.jpgKeith Donohue’s The Motion of Puppets is a loose modern day take on the Orpheus / Eurydice myth. (Hint: VERY loose). The premise, as well as the title, of the novel I found instantly intriguing, imagining a sort of dark, enchanting, Charlie Kaufman-esque type of book. Unfortunately, at least for me, this novel failed to deliver.

I’m still trying to figure out what it is about this novel that made it so difficult to become attached to. (I’ve been sitting on writing this review for over a week). There’s an aloofness in the manner the novel is approached that makes it impossible to really connect with any of the characters, except peripherally, and of the two interwoven storylines, there’s really no sense of drama or concern for either of the main characters, despite the fact this this couple has been separated, and the wife has been turned into a puppet. I’m not sure how you accomplish that, to be truthful, but it is what it is.

And that’s the ultimate feeling I got from this novel — it is what it is. It’s a dull version of Toy Story, a mystery that’s fairly obvious without any real twists or turns. If it were a road map, it would go from point A to point B without a single bump in the road. It carries a light mystical air to it, but like eating a wafer, you’re still starving after your fifteenth time to the table. While I found some of the imagery enjoyable, overall I would have a hard time recommending this book to anyone. It felt more like something I would have been forced to read in English class in High School.

Sadly, a pass from yours truly, though I’d love to hear where I went wrong if you’ve had a chance to read this one.

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