The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue


Caution! Review has spoilers and isn’t very positive. People with sensitive nerves should use a sedative 🙂

Starting a new book is like starting a new journey. One never knows what she’ll find at the end. So, filled with excitement that I found some pre-published copy of a book on the street two months ago (already a bad sign, no one throws away good books), I ventured into a new country called ’national bestselling author horror novel’. Well, my journey turned out to be very long and painful, but at the end I got some treasures and discoveries, for instance:

– Now I can state with confidence that I’ve seen the worst beginning of a novel
– The longest beginning in history
– The shortest climax in history
– Now I know how to write a horror book without a horror story
– You don’t have to be a good writer to write a national bestseller

As I said, the beginning of the book impressed me immensely. I wanted to close it after the first sentence. But I am used to finishing things I start. So I went reading.

The book tells a story about a just-married couple, Kay and Theo. They are spending summer at Quebec where Kay has gotten a job as an acrobat in the cirque. One day after the performance Kay goes missing, and the last place she visited was an old puppet shop.

The story starts pretty fast and Kay disappears in the first chapter. Here is everything I knew about main characters by that point: 1) Kay played around a lot before she got married, 2) she’s in love with a puppet 3) but not that much with her husband whom she dropped for a party at the first chance. Theo ‘loves’ her but he’s afraid that his wife will revert to her old habits. He is working on a translation of a script about some photographer who killed his wife (what a concept!) because she had an affair. And the facts from that script will pop up on the pages pretty often, no matter if it’s related to the story or not (it’s just conceptual… well.. you know).

After Kay disappears the story is ready to begin. Half way through the book, it’s still ready to begin. Finally, at the end of the book, it still feels like the story hasn’t gone anywhere.

Theo notices that his wife is gone. His first instinct? She probably spent a night with someone else! (Genius!) and he goes to look for her to the circus. There he meets Tyrion from the Lannister family. Oh sorry, that’s another book. In this book Tyrion is named Egon but the old habits like drinking and women have been preserved. Except brains. This Tyrion is not that smart.

“I wish I had a woman to help me take care of the women in my life. A woman who understands women, a woman to explain women to me.”

“But who would help you understand that woman?”

So after drinking with his new friend Egon and attempting to find his wife by taking walks around the city, Theo finally goes to the police. The disappearance of Kay is an insoluble mystery to them, so after some time Theo returns back to America and  his job as a teacher.

The plot progression looks kinda like this:

Students: Our teacher’s wife is missing but he’s not looking for her! Maybe he’s a murderer?

Theo: Oh, I’m in pain. How can i live without her?

Egon(Tyrion): Hey, I came from Canada to help you look for you wife!

Theo: What’s the point? I’m in pain

Coworker: Hey, I know you’ve lost your wife, have you thought about looking for her?

Theo: I’m in pain

Mother-in-law: I saw my daughter on TV as a doll, can you move your ass and go look for her?


Kay, who was magically turned into a puppet, is traveling with a theater, sometimes performing and making new friends. No stress.

Kay: What was my husband’s name?

Finally, almost at the end of the book, after long, tedious chapters of indecisiveness, Theo is ready to go and look for Kay. Finally, the story begins!!

One may think that something interesting has started.

Don’t be so stupid. 🙂 Instead of going to look for his wife, Theo has dinner and a nice chat with his mother-in-law. When he finally finds the place where Kay is, the book is over!! There’s just one more chapter of Theo’s clumsy attempts to save Kay, a death without any logic (I would say that this part was the most beautifully written) and that’s it. You just wasted a week of your life.

The author says book was based on a myth about Orpheus and Eurydice. I suggest for you to read the myth itself. Unless you are into cheap, melodramatic horror-without-the-horror reading, you’ll enjoy it better.

Stay positive and read good books!