I received this as an Advance Reader Copy (releasing October 4th 2016) from a Goodreads giveaway so take all my opinions and observations with a larger grain of salt than usual.
Theo and Kay are newlyweds who are staying in Quebec for the summer. Theo is a scholar who is translating a book. Kay is an acrobat who is working with a cirque in the city. On her way to work every day Kay passes by an abandoned puppet shop. She is particularly entranced by the ancient puppet in the store’s front window. All is well until one night Kay does not come home. She disappears without a trace leaving Theo devastated and under suspicion. This novel is a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth with some interesting twists and turns.
I liked this book. The premise of it really appeals to me. There’s mythology, magical realism, and mystery. Three great “M” words! Though I love the idea of the novel it fell a bit short in its execution of a great idea. The magic in this story is very ambiguous. There’s little explanation about how things work and why. By the end I still had so many questions about the puppets and the puppeteers. The magic has rules, but the reason behind said rules is never really explained. Sometimes the rules are broken and other times it seems like they are not flexible at all. There’s a build-up to one specific bit of magic and a character, but the reveal is one of the most anticlimactic scenes I have ever read.
The plot feels like it could have been tighter. There are lulls in the pacing and some scenes do not feel necessary. As with the magic there are loose ends in the plot as well. Some characters do not feel like they are developed or used as much or as well as they could have been. Though I like open ended stories (I feel like I say that a lot) some characters suddenly disappear and I was left wondering why and what purpose they truly served. Their “endings” didn’t make sense or they needed more screen time because they were interesting. None of the main characters really stuck out to me and the supporting cast weren’t utilized as well as they could have been. Also, the parts inspired by the myth were not very subtle and references were too easy to spot.
Despite all that I did enjoy the book. I simply wanted more from it. The potential was there! It is possible it could be setting up for a sequel, but this book would have benefited from a tighter narrative and a more fleshed out world.