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Puppet Master Paperback – May 1, 2010

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Children's Books (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842556207
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842556207
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,075,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Part historical fiction, part fantastical nightmare, this haunting debut, set in 1899 Prague, celebrates the city's rich folklore and long tradition of puppetry. On the same day that Milena's father, a renowned puppeteer, fell to his death, her mother vanished. In Old Town Square, Milena encounters a traveling puppeteer and his menacing protégés, who are identical twins, and as the story changes perspective between the Puppet Master and Milena, readers will quickly realize that the sinister newcomer is responsible not only for loved ones who have disappeared but also for a ghoulish plot to control the city. Illustrated with creative, mood-setting spot art, the book includes frequent chapters of Bohemian stories, which are printed on pages resembling leaves of an antique book. A map would have been welcome, but an appended glossary and cultural notes offer background on names and places. The blend of terror, macabre theater, magic, lore, and fin de siècle setting creates an unusual, captivating adventure that, like many old Czech legends, celebrates strong women and their power to rescue entire lands. Grades 4-8. --Gillian Engberg


"Timeless, like fairytales and fever dreams. Its territory is the high Gothic: not the watered-down, commercialised stuff, but the genuine article. . . Joanne Owen has fashioned . . . a fascinating piece of children's fiction."  —Guardian

"It's like reading an old fairytale you'd forgotten you heard as a child."  —SFX Magazine

"Owen is a terrific storyteller, and she evokes an atmosphere [that is] beautiful and spooky."  —Daily Telegraph

"Full of magic and mystery . . . engaging and fascinating."  —Publishing News

"An original witch's brew of myth, history, fable and fun."  —Prague Post

"The vivid descriptions and gothic atmosphere which the author creates transport the reader deep into 19th Century Prague."  —Lovereading

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. Adlam TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 31, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the overview of Puppet Master and knew that it was a book I had to read. I adore Prague and its rich history and folklore and I adore tales which hint at the dark and mysterious. This book offered both.

After the death of her father and the disappearance of her mother, Milena still clung to the hope of reuniting with her mother and reopening The House of Dream Delights, her father's marionette theatre. However, her dreams take a strange turn when a mysterious man appears in town and claims that he'll put on the greatest marionette show ever. Through her grandmother and her two quirky aunts, Milena learns of her family's history and ultimate destiny and how the stranger, known as The Master of Marionettes, fits into it all. Although the core story was interesting, the telling of it wasn't cohesive.

A few characters lacked depth and a few seemed extraneous. What's disheartening, though, is that some of the extraneous characters were actually the best drawn ones. Zdenko and Zdenka, The Master's assistants, were so perfectly vile that I could feel my blood curdling each time they entered a scene. The Master himself was a well-painted arrogant drunkard, but his role in the story felt shaky; an explanation was given--a tie into the folktale being told--but it didn't quite fit. I couldn't get a foothold on Milena's, the protagonist, personality. One moment she seemed like a normal little girl gripping to her hopes and other times she felt like an inanimate object following stage cues. I also couldn't align myself with her two potential love interests: Lukas, her best friend, and Karel, The Master's head marionette maker. The, admittedly slight, allusions toward romance seemed contrived and could have been left out altogether.
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