The Motion of Puppets is a clever play on an ancient Roman myth.
Orpheus was a musician who was so talented he could charm the birds from the sky and make the forest spirits weep. He madly loved a woman named Eurydice.
One day, she stepped on a serpent and died. Orpheus nearly lost his mind out of grief for her. So, he made his way to the underworld to beg Lord Hades for his bride.
Orpheus plays such sweet music that Persephone weeps and Hades allows the bard to take the shade of his dead wife back to the living world. There’s one condition, he can’t look back to see if she’s following.
I think we all know what happened then. This book takes that tragedy and places it in the modern world.
Everything is fine until Theo’s wife, Kay, goes missing. “She should be more responsible, should know that he would worry, but he could hear her laughing it off when she came home. You’ll give yourself ulcers, she’d say. You fret too much. I just went out for croissants.” pg 18
He assumes she stumbled into the bed of one of her coworkers and is sleeping off a hangover. But the truth is much worse.
Kay has been transformed into something else, something magical and monstrous. “We lucky few can move about as long as the people are not watching. Midnight to first light, we are free.”pg 41
She is trapped in a metaphorical “underworld,” ruled over by an ancient power and his minions. “You cannot go home,” he said. “You cannot ever leave the Back Room.” pg 76
Even if Theo can figure out where she’s gone, how on earth will Kay go back to the shape she had before?
Keith Donohue has crafted a clever and haunting novel, putting a horror-tinged lens on the myth.
“And, besides, let me tell you a secret: all art needs a little sadness in it, a small tragedy to balance the human comedy.” pg 111
Like Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann’s musical take on Orpheus and Eurydice, the elements of the original story are in both works of art. I think The Motion of Puppets is more weird and other-worldly.
To truly enjoy this tale, you have to be willing to believe in magic.
Highly recommended for readers who like twists on mythology or not-too-terrifying horror stories.
Thanks for reading!