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Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism: A Novella

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From the creator of Hellboy, an illustrated novella that brings Twilight Zone originality to the written page... In the aftermath of a critical World War II battle, Father Gaetano is assigned as the sole priest at the Church of San Domenico in the small, seaside Sicilian village of Tringale.  The previous pastor has died and there is a shortage of clergy at the moment, so u From the creator of Hellboy, an illustrated novella that brings Twilight Zone originality to the written page... In the aftermath of a critical World War II battle, Father Gaetano is assigned as the sole priest at the Church of San Domenico in the small, seaside Sicilian village of Tringale.  The previous pastor has died and there is a shortage of clergy at the moment, so until another can be spared, the young priest must say all of the masses himself.Mass is not Father Gaetano’s only responsibility, however.  The war has created many orphans, and thus the San Domenico rectory has been converted into an orphanage which is also his domain.  The children are a joy to him, but they have lost so much, and many have begun to question their faith and their God, and his attempts to teach them catechism are in vain . . . until he finds an old puppet theatre and an ornate box of puppets in the basement.  Handcrafted by the building's former caretaker, now absent, the puppets seem the perfect tool to get the children to pay attention to their lessons.  But after dark the puppets emerge from that ornate box, without their strings.  While the children have been questioning their faith, the puppets believe Father Gaetano's Bible stories completely. But there is such a thing as too much faith.  And the children's lives will never be the same again.


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From the creator of Hellboy, an illustrated novella that brings Twilight Zone originality to the written page... In the aftermath of a critical World War II battle, Father Gaetano is assigned as the sole priest at the Church of San Domenico in the small, seaside Sicilian village of Tringale.  The previous pastor has died and there is a shortage of clergy at the moment, so u From the creator of Hellboy, an illustrated novella that brings Twilight Zone originality to the written page... In the aftermath of a critical World War II battle, Father Gaetano is assigned as the sole priest at the Church of San Domenico in the small, seaside Sicilian village of Tringale.  The previous pastor has died and there is a shortage of clergy at the moment, so until another can be spared, the young priest must say all of the masses himself.Mass is not Father Gaetano’s only responsibility, however.  The war has created many orphans, and thus the San Domenico rectory has been converted into an orphanage which is also his domain.  The children are a joy to him, but they have lost so much, and many have begun to question their faith and their God, and his attempts to teach them catechism are in vain . . . until he finds an old puppet theatre and an ornate box of puppets in the basement.  Handcrafted by the building's former caretaker, now absent, the puppets seem the perfect tool to get the children to pay attention to their lessons.  But after dark the puppets emerge from that ornate box, without their strings.  While the children have been questioning their faith, the puppets believe Father Gaetano's Bible stories completely. But there is such a thing as too much faith.  And the children's lives will never be the same again.

30 review for Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism: A Novella

  1. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    It would not be a “spoiler” to suggest that anyone who has ever watched a Night Gallery or Twilight Zone episode with a ventriloquist is going to know what will happen in Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism. If one has never seen movies about malevolent dolls named “Chuckie” or even considered what might have happened if Pinocchio had longed to work for Murder, Inc. rather than being a “real boy,” there would still be enough foreshadowing in this fascinating novella to let you know what was going It would not be a “spoiler” to suggest that anyone who has ever watched a Night Gallery or Twilight Zone episode with a ventriloquist is going to know what will happen in Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism. If one has never seen movies about malevolent dolls named “Chuckie” or even considered what might have happened if Pinocchio had longed to work for Murder, Inc. rather than being a “real boy,” there would still be enough foreshadowing in this fascinating novella to let you know what was going to happen. Yet, in spite of the portending feeling of potential disaster one feels while reading this little book from the creator of Hellboy and B.P.R.D. (an acronym for Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development) in collaboration with the author of The Boys Are Back in Town, this is a marvelous story. The action takes place in a rectory turned into an orphanage on the island of Sicily. It is late in World War II and the orphans have actually been orphaned by Allied bombing preparatory to Ike’s “second invasion” in Italy. The story involves a young, compassionate priest who finds a puppet theater and begins to transform the puppets into characters from Bible stories in order to teach catechism to the orphans. Being victims of tragedy, the orphans aren’t satisfied with platitudes about God’s goodness and God’s grace. They ask probing questions about theodicy, the problem of evil. They are bothered by those who lost their lives in Noah’s flood and don’t wholly grasp the padre’s insistence upon “free will” over determinism. They are horrified by the transformation of “Punch” into Lucifer and the priest’s account of War in Heaven and fallen angels. They wonder how they could be protected from such a fall if the angels couldn’t be. Yet, the priest’s words help some of the children. In fact, after the puppet show on the war in heaven, a nine year old explains to the others: “Like with the angels, God gave them Heaven. He just wanted them to take care of it. Maybe we’ll have Heaven when we die, but right now, He gave us the world, and He wants us to take care of it. Isn’t that just another way of saying, ‘be good’?” (p. 125) Yet, other children felt like the idea of free will was constrained by ideas of punishment and reward (p. 124). One can readily see how the victims of warfare would sense this theological problem more acutely than modern individuals. Even though the book has a transparent plot and covers serious theological questions, Mignola and Golden do a marvelous job of creating characters which are not uni-dimensional. The priest is chaste, but clearly has desire for one of the nuns. The priest is confident, but sometimes displays very natural confidence issues. I liked this one conversational exchange before the first puppet catechism. “Sister Teresa frowned. ‘To perform for children? Why should you be nervous?’” “’In such moments, we are reminded that we are still only children ourselves, in our hearts,’ Father Gaetano said.” (p. 66) Finally, even though I knew what was coming, the climactic event was well-conceived, fascinating, and had a redemptive element in it. Indeed, I believe the epilogue dealing with one of the puppets is an important statement about redemption and shines a light on the meaning of the entire book. Even when Mignola touches the classic tropes of horror, there is a fascinating element of hope and redemption underneath the trappings of evil. I’ve always enjoyed his graphic novels, but this is the first time I’ve read a pure story by him (and his collaborator). It was definitely a joy to discover.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    Originally posted at FanLit. http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi... There is just no way I can resist reading a novella called Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism, especially when it’s written by the guy who created Hellboy. As I expected, I was rewarded with just over 4 hours of constant audio entertainment. The young priest Father Gaetano has just been assigned to a church in Sicily that has taken in children who were orphaned during World War II. The nuns love the children and are doing the bes Originally posted at FanLit. http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi... There is just no way I can resist reading a novella called Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism, especially when it’s written by the guy who created Hellboy. As I expected, I was rewarded with just over 4 hours of constant audio entertainment. The young priest Father Gaetano has just been assigned to a church in Sicily that has taken in children who were orphaned during World War II. The nuns love the children and are doing the best they can, but they are happy to have Father Gaetano’s help with the teaching. In the aftermath of war, most of the children have lost their families and they’re dealing with the most difficult of all theological questions: How can God let bad things happen to good people? Father Gaetano admires the children for not being willing to settle for such platitudes as “God still loves you” or “it’s all in God’s plan” and he looks forward to teaching such inquisitive minds. But how can he teach these precious children the deep truths of God in a way they can understand? When he finds a box of beautifully-crafted puppets and a puppet theater in the basement, Father Gaetano decides to use these tools to teach his lessons. He and one of the boys work hard to paint and dress the puppets for their roles. The puppets are a big hit with most of the kids, though there’s one boy who is afraid of them. It turns out that he has a reason to be; the puppets come alive at night. They sneak into one of the boys’ rooms and play out the roles that Father Gaetano gave them during the day. The priest and the nuns, of course, don’t realize what’s going on… Not until Father Gaetano, in his quest to make the children understand why bad things happen, decides to teach the children about the origin of sin. For this lesson, therefore, he creates a Lucifer puppet… Uh-oh…. I thoroughly enjoyed Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism. It’s well-written and exciting, the characters are developed quickly and sufficiently, the story manages to be both sweet and delightfully creepy. I particularly appreciated the beautiful portrayal of the nuns’ and the priest’s self-sacrificial love for orphans — this is what real Christianity is supposed to look like. I loved how Father Gaetano didn’t dismiss, but rather respected, the children’s questions. I loved the way the story abruptly switched tone and became suddenly very dark. I won’t tell you what happens, but it was a great ending! I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version read by Nick Podehl. Podehl has a great voice, but his pacing isn’t perfect. He has a way of drawing out or emphasizing words in a slightly unnatural way, but this is more noticeable than distracting. I sped up the playback slightly and didn’t notice it after a while. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the audio version, but you should also know that the print version of Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism has a few black and white illustrations by Mike Mignola.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Orrin Grey

    I love novellas, and this one is beautifully presented. A nice size, attractive hardcover, and with illustrations by Mignola. And it's a good, simple, straightforward tale of the quiet supernatural, which I love. And it's about puppets, which I love. (Pretty much all of Mignola's illustrations are just pictures of spooky puppets, a fact about which you will not find me complaining.) The length made for a very pleasant read, very slow burning, which I sort of liked, but in the end I think there w I love novellas, and this one is beautifully presented. A nice size, attractive hardcover, and with illustrations by Mignola. And it's a good, simple, straightforward tale of the quiet supernatural, which I love. And it's about puppets, which I love. (Pretty much all of Mignola's illustrations are just pictures of spooky puppets, a fact about which you will not find me complaining.) The length made for a very pleasant read, very slow burning, which I sort of liked, but in the end I think there was too much buildup, too many threads brought into play, for the amount of payoff we ended up getting, maybe. I did really like the abruptness of where things were left, though, and the way that you didn't really get to see how this affected a lot of the characters, and didn't get any resolution to some of the plot threads.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    More of a thriller than horror. Nothing really happened until almost the end of the book. An okay read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    C.S. Malerich

    I mostly picked this up for the title and the cover. The artwork has the same angular creepiness as the Hellboy comics (as you'd expect from Mike Mignola), and, well, how can you not want to know the story behind Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism? The plot's not bad, but the characters never quite grabbed me. I should feel for the children orphaned by WWII, the young priest struggling under the weight of his responsibilities, the veteran nun looking after her charges...and when hints of puppets m I mostly picked this up for the title and the cover. The artwork has the same angular creepiness as the Hellboy comics (as you'd expect from Mike Mignola), and, well, how can you not want to know the story behind Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism? The plot's not bad, but the characters never quite grabbed me. I should feel for the children orphaned by WWII, the young priest struggling under the weight of his responsibilities, the veteran nun looking after her charges...and when hints of puppets moving on their own start dropping, I should feel more creeped out. But the treatment isn't quite subtle enough. Too much telling, not enough showing. The themes of religious faith, free will, and the relationship between creator and creature would have been like candy to me in my teens. But the authors lay these on a little too thick. It's a shame, because the storyline would take care of this on its own. The novella probably could have been a short story, and more effective.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    Loved it. Won on a Goodreads giveaway and very delightfully surprised at how enjoyable it was. I'm guessing most people would know the authors right away as the ones who did Hellboy and other popular comics but since I've never been a fan of that genre, I went in without any preconceptions. You know from the beginning (especially if you've read the back cover) what the basic story is, and there's really no surprises to it: a priest, some nuns, some orphans, and a box of puppets - only so many di Loved it. Won on a Goodreads giveaway and very delightfully surprised at how enjoyable it was. I'm guessing most people would know the authors right away as the ones who did Hellboy and other popular comics but since I've never been a fan of that genre, I went in without any preconceptions. You know from the beginning (especially if you've read the back cover) what the basic story is, and there's really no surprises to it: a priest, some nuns, some orphans, and a box of puppets - only so many directions to go from there. The pleasure was in the telling. Very well written and the characters are actual and believable three-dimensional figures with color and life given to them that really fills out the story, and the same goes for the puppets. The story itself is not terribly frightening but enough tension builds to still keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. A very good pre-Halloween read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mommacat

    This dark fiction novella needed a lotta splainin' to this non-catholic gal here. And even tho I'm not religious, I like the stories that blend religion and horror. But more than half of this novella by two kickass authors built up the religious theme (I get it now!) before winding down to the scary stuff. I liked it, I just wish there had been more of it. For you Catholics, it might present some questions. I don't know. Who am I to say? But my final rating was 3 1/2 stars and a recommend if this This dark fiction novella needed a lotta splainin' to this non-catholic gal here. And even tho I'm not religious, I like the stories that blend religion and horror. But more than half of this novella by two kickass authors built up the religious theme (I get it now!) before winding down to the scary stuff. I liked it, I just wish there had been more of it. For you Catholics, it might present some questions. I don't know. Who am I to say? But my final rating was 3 1/2 stars and a recommend if this sounds like your thing.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joseph R.

    World War II Sicily is home to much hardship. The church of San Domenico has just lost its priest so young Father Gaetano is assigned. The parish rectory has been converted to an orphanage that is supported by nuns from the next-door convent. The children (a mixture of boys and girls) are taught by the nuns but catechism class falls to Father Gaetano. He has trouble connecting to the children until he discovers a puppet theater with plenty of puppets. A former caretaker left them behind. Most ch World War II Sicily is home to much hardship. The church of San Domenico has just lost its priest so young Father Gaetano is assigned. The parish rectory has been converted to an orphanage that is supported by nuns from the next-door convent. The children (a mixture of boys and girls) are taught by the nuns but catechism class falls to Father Gaetano. He has trouble connecting to the children until he discovers a puppet theater with plenty of puppets. A former caretaker left them behind. Most children are delighted to see them again, especially Sebastiano, who keeps the clown Pagliaccio as his favorite. He talks to the puppet at night when his roommates are asleep. The puppet talks back, but naturally only when children are around. While the clown is benign, the other puppets take to their roles a bit too literally. Father Gaetano transforms the puppets into biblical characters. Noah worries about the ark, David and Goliath fight. Things take a disastrous and macabre turn when Father Gaetano changes a puppet into Lucifer, who takes his role too seriously. The "puppets come alive" trope in horror has been done many times before. Even though it is familiar, the authors do a good job building tension and crafting a great finale to the story. I enjoyed that part very much. On the other hand, the theology is distractingly sketchy. The authors get some details wrong, like the scene where Father Gaetano is surprised by one of the puppets and takes the Lord's name in vain. Then he feels humiliated "at his breaking the Third Commandment." [p. 91] While different denominations in the Judeo-Christian tradition divide up Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 differently, in the Catholic tradition, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain" is the second commandment, not the third. The nuns are called "Domenicans," which at first I thought was a made up order, though perhaps they are named after the Orphanage of San Domenico or the authors just don't know how to spell Dominicans. Father and the children have many discussions about free will but they are all superficial and unsatisfying. Worse yet, the discussions are barely connected to the puppet horror story, a missed opportunity. Mignola's occasional drawings (mostly of the puppets) are fun and do give a boost to the puppet horror theme. The ultimate fate of the characters (both human and mannequin) is exciting and satisfying. Some judicious editing and rewriting could have made this a great, rather than an average, book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Scott Danielson

    This review is of the audiobook edition, and was posted originally at SFFaudio (http://www.sffaudio.com): When this audio novella came in for review, it took a few days to make the connection: Mike Mignola is the creator of Hellboy! I'm a fan of the Hellboy movies (directed by Guillermo del Toro), but haven't picked up any of the comics. If anyone has a recommendation for a particular volume I'd like to give it a go. Mignola and Christopher Golden, the writing team that produced some Hellboy novel This review is of the audiobook edition, and was posted originally at SFFaudio (http://www.sffaudio.com): When this audio novella came in for review, it took a few days to make the connection: Mike Mignola is the creator of Hellboy! I'm a fan of the Hellboy movies (directed by Guillermo del Toro), but haven't picked up any of the comics. If anyone has a recommendation for a particular volume I'd like to give it a go. Mignola and Christopher Golden, the writing team that produced some Hellboy novels, wrote this. The Amazon description calls it "an illustrated novella". I haven't spotted a copy of this at a bookstore, but I'd like to so I can see the art. Mignola, in an interview with Geek's Guide to the Galaxy gives Christopher Golden full credit for the writing, so I suspect that this audiobook contains little of Mignola's input. The story did have a Hellboy (or even a Pan's Labyrinth) feel to it. Dark, a bit sad, with something spiritually sinister about. It's about an Italian orphanage in World War II, shortly after the Allies' victory. Father Gaetano, recently assigned there, and a group of nuns struggle to connect with the grieving children. One of the kids finds puppets and a puppet stage in the basement, and Fr. Gaetano decides to put it to use. The kids become more interested as he, with their help, paints the puppets as Old Testament characters, then performs stories with them. And then, the problem - the puppets come to life at night, and they take on the persona of the Bible characters they have been decorated to portray. Not knowing this, Father Gaetano plods along with his plans, and he wants to tell the story of Lucifer's fall. This wasn't a bad novella, but it wasn't stellar either. An interesting idea, and there are some great scenes, but even at novella length it feels a bit padded out. Still, it's worth a listen, in my opinion. Or a look if you can find the hardcopy. Nick Podehl is a terrific narrator.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Thanks to Goodreads First Reads and St. Martin's Press for an ARC of Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism: A Novella. Set in Sicily ravaged by World War II, Father Gaetano takes over the Church of San Domenico's rectory/orphanage. While he leads mass and tends to his parishioners, Father Gaetano takes most pride in teaching the children the Bible and the value of God in their lives. As most of the children have lost loved ones in the war, this turns out to be a difficult task. Father Gaetano stumble Thanks to Goodreads First Reads and St. Martin's Press for an ARC of Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism: A Novella. Set in Sicily ravaged by World War II, Father Gaetano takes over the Church of San Domenico's rectory/orphanage. While he leads mass and tends to his parishioners, Father Gaetano takes most pride in teaching the children the Bible and the value of God in their lives. As most of the children have lost loved ones in the war, this turns out to be a difficult task. Father Gaetano stumbles upon a puppet theater left by a previous caretaker, and comes up with a way of engaging the children through the Bible stories of David and Goliath, Noah and the flood, and more. When the puppets begin to take on a life of their own, Father Gaetano finds he has more than he bargained for. The book was engaging, easy to follow, and well-written. The story unfolded beautifully. While there were only a few directions this book could go with its subject matter, there were still some surprises along the way. The character development was superb. We learn of Father Gaetano's struggle with his own faith, nine-year-old Sebastiano's innocence and imagination, as well as Father Gaetano's and Sister Teresa's flirtations with desire. The characters' stories and description gave them reality and depth that a real person would have.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    this book is only 163 pages long - and it didn't really start til like page 100. There is a good, simple, creepy short story here that either, 1) an editor didn't condense or 2) an editor loved the story and wanted it extended to a novella. Either way - it was a mistake. I almost stopped reading this book and gave up several times. I should have. Very disappointing. Boring for most, and then when not - too little too late.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    This short novel is a good examination of faith and religion in the face of catastrophic loss due to war; the supernatural element is rather obvious, and serves as something of a literary metaphor for the religious structure. The illustrations are nice but aren't as big of a part here as they have been in other Mignola/Golden collaborations. It's a quietly sad story, with both the puppet and human characters nobly persevering against temptation, loss, and fear.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    I like Mike Mignola's comic books, but this was just bad. Dull, over-explanatory prose; dialog that no one, in Sicily or elsewhere, would ever speak; and a simplistic story which, if it had been reduced to 20 pages, would still have been overlong (Are we like puppets in the hands of God? Gosh, I don't know Goliath!), made this a slog, even though it only took a few hours to read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kylie

    This is a charming novella that deals with pain and loss of faith in the aftermath of war, as well as doll horror. It is written with an economy of detail and a simplicity that makes it appropriate for a variety of ages, but isn't lacking depth. I can't help thinking it would make a good film.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Toy Story meets Twilight Zone... Absolutely fantastic. Really snappy novella, loved it

  16. 5 out of 5

    Robert Kelly

    Thoughtful, creepy, and lots of fun.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I chose 84, Charing Cross Road to fit in my purse, but I finished it in just over two subway rides...which left me up a creak the next day, when I once again had to leave behind my briefcase. I'd already read The Little Prince , which meant I was running out of short, small books. Rather than commit to a 300-page trade paperback, I reached for this one. What a delightfully creepy little story! There were a few things that chafed, though. 1. Requisite priest/nun romance on the side of an i I chose 84, Charing Cross Road to fit in my purse, but I finished it in just over two subway rides...which left me up a creak the next day, when I once again had to leave behind my briefcase. I'd already read The Little Prince , which meant I was running out of short, small books. Rather than commit to a 300-page trade paperback, I reached for this one. What a delightfully creepy little story! There were a few things that chafed, though. 1. Requisite priest/nun romance on the side of an imperfect priest which must be cooled by the nun. Not that priests would never be tempted, but it's a dirt common sin. Give me a story with a priest who battles with his compulsive lying or something. 2. Whacking out Christianity at the knees. I mean, I get that questioning is an integral part of most stories involving religion, but there didn't seem to be much effort to portray faith in a positive light...which is, quite honestly, the opposite of a complex situation. (For example, (view spoiler)[the fact that not a single one of the biblical "good guys" puppets, including saints, actively resisted the Lucifer puppet (hide spoiler)] .) 3. After saying that he's "starting at the beginning", the first story that Father Gaetano presents is David and Goliath...then Noah...then the extrabiblical Paradise Lost . Um, what? 4. Father Gaetano's lost teaching moment. Completely spoilery, so read on at your own risk. (view spoiler)[ I get that there was a lot going on after the attack, but it seems like an intelligent priest with FG's worldview might take a moment when everyone's attributing the puppets' animation to the devil to point out that, wherever their power comes from, it's not from God. Since they're not God's creations, they don't have free will, which means they are only what they are made to be: no more, no less. Quite unlike the children, after all! (This is an approach entirely from what seems to me to be a reasonable approximation of what FG's view of the puppets might be, not my own. After all, no attempt was made to talk to the puppets, let alone reason with them, so the extent of their will remains unknown.) (hide spoiler)] 5. No one thinks to do the obvious: (view spoiler)[redesign the puppets quickly so that they're all good, kind, faithful characters...or redesign Lucifer into Jesus (yeah, I kind of thought that might happen, though thematically it wouldn't make sense) (hide spoiler)] . I always end up over-critiquing the books that I enjoy, but it's in large part because I only write a lot about books that connected to me. Yes, there are a couple cases where it's been because I was actively angry about something/s ( The Art of Racing in the Rain ), but this most certainly was not one of those cases. I enjoyed the creepy book and thoroughly agree with Comic Book Resources's assessment that it "would make a great gift for Neil Gaiman's All Hallow's Read." Quote Roundup 7 - "They're angry at God, but they can't punish Him for it. Sometimes they punish me and some of the other kids instead." No points for originality, but it's an important point to make early on in a kid's book. It could be pretty mind-blowing depending on the reader's age. 39 - The devil might be mankind's greatest enemy, but Father Gaetano firmly believed that the second greatest nemesis faced by any priest must be Monday. This made me laugh. Seems like Mondays are always tough, even when you're looking forward to them. 66 - "Read? Not at all. But I am committed to a course of action." I feel like this is often how I live my life. I gave up waiting to be ready back in high school when I realized that I usually wasn't ready until too late. 98 - "God made so much rain fall that everyone drowned. How is that love?" Father Gaetano nodded, making sure to keep his expression serious, as the question warranted, though he had a smile in his heart. They were thinking. It was the best gift he could have asked for. For all my beefs with the way this story handles religion, I did really like this. Not all religious leaders, even in conservative institutions like the Catholic Church, are no-questions blind-faith-only kind of people, and I was glad to see this represented. ((view spoiler)[139 - "Lucifer tried to kill me." "He tried to kill his Creator! To him, you are God. He was just doing what you made him do do, acting out his part." This was where point #4 really hit home for me. The comparison is imperfect, but the only one who protests it is Father Gaetano, who the narrative has spent quite a bit of time casting doubt on. The fact that Sebastiano became a priest only seems to reinforce the correctness of his interpretation--that is, that God made people as they are and they have no choice but to act accordingly. Of course, there's a very interesting metaliterary issue going on at the same time: we treat he characters as though they have their own will, but they are as much at the direction and mercy of their creators as the puppets are. 159 - "I'm not God! I only held the strings!" "Perhaps you should have held on to them more tightly." Again, we don't exactly trust either of these characters at this point, so it's unclear whether this important exchange can be taken seriously or not. This makes me uneasy because the metaphor could apply to the "strings" of the children's education. Father Gaetano let them loose, allowed and even preferred for them to ask questions, but the result if it all isn't exactly encouraging! (hide spoiler)] like whoa)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    I have dolls. None of them are sweet or cuddly. Nearly all of them are sinister or downright scary so this book was certainly my cup of tea. I think puppets are especially terrifying in that they are meant to move but they do so in a jerky, not quite normal way no matter how good the person manipulating them. Father Gaetano is a young priest sent to a convent that is harboring orphans at the end of WWII. The children are difficult and so finding a trunk of puppets seems like a godsend that will I have dolls. None of them are sweet or cuddly. Nearly all of them are sinister or downright scary so this book was certainly my cup of tea. I think puppets are especially terrifying in that they are meant to move but they do so in a jerky, not quite normal way no matter how good the person manipulating them. Father Gaetano is a young priest sent to a convent that is harboring orphans at the end of WWII. The children are difficult and so finding a trunk of puppets seems like a godsend that will help him reach these troubled kids. Well, that doesn't work out as well as he planned because these puppets have a life of their own and it's more steeped in hellfire than catechism. Father Gaetano has some issues of his own that relate to a pretty nun so it all goes bad rather quickly. The illustrations are wonderful and creepy, making this little book a treasure as far as novellas go. I read it in one sitting and like many great stories, I was left wanting a little more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Charles Crain

    Christopher Golden has a very distinctive writing style that is both unnerving and riveting. Descriptions of items fall over taste. The deliciousness of the salt air of the Mediterranean and other points throughout made me groan. However, he can weave a good yarn. Not being a child of war (or an orphan for that matter), Golden's prose weaves life in a Sicilian orphanage through the lens of an adult faced with both the horrors of violently lost innocence and the magic that lurks in the shadows. H Christopher Golden has a very distinctive writing style that is both unnerving and riveting. Descriptions of items fall over taste. The deliciousness of the salt air of the Mediterranean and other points throughout made me groan. However, he can weave a good yarn. Not being a child of war (or an orphan for that matter), Golden's prose weaves life in a Sicilian orphanage through the lens of an adult faced with both the horrors of violently lost innocence and the magic that lurks in the shadows. However well written, the artwork does wonders for setting the scene. Simple plates of single characters expertly drawn by Mike Mignola help keep the reader on task through this quick read. The climax and denouement were a bit stilted, but this was an otherwise fun and quick read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    I struggle with novellas sometimes, since sometimes the length lends to either a feeling of being rushed, or of being unnecessarily drawn out, but I didn't feel that at all here. As an agnostipagan/atheist who was raised Catholic, I was also wary of the subject matter, but in the end, the orphanage and clergy were portrayed as ultimately sympathetic, net positive, and very human without being overly preachy (obviously the characters were extremely preachy, lol, but the tale didn't come across as I struggle with novellas sometimes, since sometimes the length lends to either a feeling of being rushed, or of being unnecessarily drawn out, but I didn't feel that at all here. As an agnostipagan/atheist who was raised Catholic, I was also wary of the subject matter, but in the end, the orphanage and clergy were portrayed as ultimately sympathetic, net positive, and very human without being overly preachy (obviously the characters were extremely preachy, lol, but the tale didn't come across as such), and thus the setup for all of the creepy shit is pretty complete. The story is not revolutionary, but competently told and left a lingering chill with the closing act, and I'm pleased to have read it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    John Rennie

    There's nothing in this story that will amaze you. The plot is fairly lightweight and predictable, and the ending is unlikely to surprise anyone. I detect Mignola's hand in some of the themes of free will and responsibility, though I suspect the majority of the text was written by Christopher Golden. But it's a touching story and brought a lump to my throat on more than one occasion. I loved the story despite its limitations, and provided you aren't expecting too much I'm sure you will enjoy it a There's nothing in this story that will amaze you. The plot is fairly lightweight and predictable, and the ending is unlikely to surprise anyone. I detect Mignola's hand in some of the themes of free will and responsibility, though I suspect the majority of the text was written by Christopher Golden. But it's a touching story and brought a lump to my throat on more than one occasion. I loved the story despite its limitations, and provided you aren't expecting too much I'm sure you will enjoy it as well. Mignola scatters little drawings throughout the story and I found these helped the atmosphere. His style is characteristic and any fan of the Hellboy comics will a chill when they see them.

  22. 4 out of 5

    MH

    A group of Sicilian war orphans, the kind priest and sisters responsible for them, and a box full of unusual puppets come together in a beautiful little story of loss, free will, and God's responsibility to His creation. The author writes these children very well, there are some small moments of human kindness that are simply-written and very affecting, and the fiery climax (and the final line of the last puppet) is a corker.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    Fun idea, not fully developed. You expect more gore, more ick, more history, more on the characters, but it just felt lacking. Even the stories were too basic, the priest not deep enough in his faith and philosophy and felt too... surface-level. Perhaps that's all the authors wanted to do with the story. Even so, it lacks the punch it wants to give us at the end and should have been better developed. Shame. Quick read, better skipped.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Paul

    Pretty good, nothing exceedingly special or anything, but Mignolas drawings are always a delight to see and I don’t regret my time spent reading it. Good size of book, just wish it was a little longer. Not hard to guess what’s going to happen, but it’s so short that’s not much of a problem. Recommend for Mignola fans or if you like offbeat, weird tales.

  25. 4 out of 5

    James Rhodes

    Conceptually brilliant and well written, I wanted to enjoy this a lot more than I did. As it was, I never really gelled with the characters and found it a bit of a slog.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Kline

    My favorite of Mignola's "illustrated novels," maybe because it is actually a novella and tells a quick, concise, fun tale. World War II European church is infected with sentient puppets.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Fellows

    Excellent story and well done. The tension building was subtle but at just the right moment it became imperative to keep reading.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Vidura Barrios

    This book is legit scary. I loved it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Fuller

    Neither Mike Mignola or Christopher Pine disappoint. Love this weird little tale

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rumi Bossche

    Cool little horror novella packaged in a stunning little hardcover, and with some illustrations by the man himself, Mignola. Fun short read. 3.5 stars

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