Book Review: The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue

The Motion of Puppets

As it is the beginning of October, I’m trying to read mostly horror/Halloween-themed books this month. And this one is the first one I read. Honestly, the only reason I read it was because it has a cool cover…I maybe need to analyze my decisions more. It turned out to be better than I was expecting, but definitely not perfect.

Release: 2016

Synopsis: Kay Harper is a talented acrobat, visiting Quebec with her husband Theo to perform with a cirque. One night she sees a beautiful puppet in a shop, only to find herself turned into a puppet herself. Meanwhile, Theo works to find out what happened to his wife after she vanishes.

Non-Spoiler Review

There are many things I loved about this book. There is a constantly creepy atmosphere. I find puppets creepy in general, so I loved their descriptions. I usually don’t like when a book jumps between two different perspectives, but this one really fit between Kay’s life as a puppet and Theo trying to find her. Theo’s perspective felt like more of a mystery, where Kay’s felt like a horror, and I loved that drastic shift in tone. I didn’t exactly like how much time was spent on flashbacks of Kay/Theo’s earlier life, and the middle section of the book felt slow, but the beginning really pulled me in and I loved the twists of the ending.

The characters, besides Kay and Theo, were pretty vague. Many of them, including the puppets Kay spent most of the story with, were not developed. We never learned who they were before they became puppets, or what motivated them, outside of maybe one or two. The same could be said for the people around Theo, like the police trying to find Kay and the people who worked with him at his university. I would have liked more development from the background characters.

The main issue I had with the story in general was that everything was vague. We never learned how the people were turned into puppets, or why. What exactly was the original puppet Kay first sees? Is it a curse? The devil? I wanted to know more, but I’ve noticed that is why I rarely like horror novels because most books in the genre tend to be vague. They are less about exploring the reality of the world (either real or fantasy) and more about having a spooky feeling. And this book succeeds at a creepy feel, but I kept wanting more.

I’m going to jump quickly over to spoilers to discuss the ending.

Spoiler Alert!

I am glad I had no idea that this was inspired by the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, because it would have spoiled the ending. For those who don’t know Orpheus falls in love with Eurydice, but she dies after being bitten by a poisonous snake. He goes down to the underworld to plead with Hades to release her soul. Hades agrees, under the condition that Orpheus must not look back as he guides her out of hell. They start their trip up, but Orpheus is anxious to see Eurydice and looks back. She vanishes and he is left alone. A rather tragic myth.

This book ends similarly. Theo finds Kay and they start sneaking out, but he looked back and they are both caught. In fact, Theo is turned into a puppet and literally torn to pieces by the puppets (not a good way to go), and Kay is left imprisoned. It’s quite a strange, sudden ending. On one hand, I loved the twists of an unhappy ending (as opposed to them escaping together), but I felt like nothing had changed by the end. Kay was still imprisoned. We still didn’t know much about the puppet master. I wanted more!


In the end, I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed it for what it was, but there were many times I was hoping for more.

Have you heard of this book or author? Do you think puppets are a good setting for a horror story? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue

  1. Honestly, this does sound like a creepy synopsis! But a 2 hour horror movie is already too much for me, so no matter how intruguing this sounds, I don’t think I’ll read it myself! Hopefully you find a new favourite Halloween-y book this month 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, I find horror movies so much more terrifying than horror books, probably because in books the level of horror is kind of up to your imagination. But I know horror books aren’t for some people. I’m not a huge fan of them either.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooo being turned into a puppet does sound creepy! It also bugs me when books dont explain why these things happen though. Like, how can I avoid it if I dont know how it happened? Lol also, on a serious note, it makes it harder for me to buy into the premise

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? And the author would talk about people pulling off sticks and hair from the puppets and it was so creepy knowing they were real people! And yes, I wish the book explained more. If it had, I would have enjoyed it better.


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