Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Seth's review of Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden

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.

Seth's Thoughts:

*Be warned, minor spoilers ahead. Skip to last paragraph to avoid any potential plot points you don’t want to know.*

This novella was a quite a quick fun read. Clocking in at 163 pages, one should be able to read it in one sitting. Well, at least that’s how it was for me.  

As short as this book is, it draws you in. I couldn’t help but imagine the feel of threadbare socks sliding across hardwood floors. The atmosphere really makes you think you are in a orphanage. I expect nothing less from the creators of Hellboy. It starts out as a semi generalized story about a poor orphan child who talks to his friend Pagliaccio the puppet. But then it gets strange. Hey welcome to the mind of Mike Mignola. 

The story follows a few characters. A new priest is brought in shortly after the death of the old one. The child who talks to his puppet another. Occasionally, it flashes to one of the nuns. All in all, it flows quite nicely from one perspective to another when it does.

The priest is having a hard time keeping the attention of the children and while cleaning out the basement discovers the old puppet set. He cleans it up and begins using it to teach his Catechism. He sews new clothing for different stories for each of the puppets. He covers many of the classic Bible stories like the Ark, the flood, and even when Lucifer fell from heaven. 

The children begin paying more attention and begin forgetting about their lost loved ones through his story telling and puppet plays. I would go into more detail about what happens, but I feel this is enough of a teaser for you to want to pick up the book and read it. I know I don’t do the story justice in describing things, but I’m a reviewer and not a writer. 

Seth gives Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism: 5/5.

Want to know where to buy the book?
Barnes and Noble
The Book Depository

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Neither Seth nor I were compensated in any way for this review.

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