Book Review & Blog Tour: The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice by Lisa DeSelm

Hi everyone! I am one of today’s tour stops for The Puppermaster’s Apprentice by Lisa DeSelm, which is hosted by Turn the Page Tours. Be sure to follow along the tour here!

The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice

Author: Lisa DeSelm

Publication Date: 13 October 2020

Genre: YA – Fantasy (retelling)

Pages: 352

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Pinocchio meets Frankenstein in this dark fairy tale retelling where a young girl is commissioned to build an assassin for a dark-hearted tyrant.

Impressed by the work of the puppetmaster and his apprentice, Tavia’s ruler, The Margrave, has ordered dozens of life-size marionette soldiers to be sent to Wolfspire Hall. When the orders for more soldiers come in with increasingly urgent deadlines, the puppetmaster’s health suffers and Pirouette, his daughter and protégé, is left to build in his stead. But there is something far more twisted brewing at Wolfspire—the Margrave’s son wants Pirouette to create an assassin. And he wants her to give it life.

With Tavia teetering on the brink of war and her father dying in the dungeons, Pirouette has no choice but to accept. Racing against the rise of the next blue moon—the magic that will bring her creations to life—she can’t help but wonder, is she making a masterpiece…or a monster? 

I was immediately drawn to this story with the comparison Pinocchio meets Frankenstein. I am a sucker for fairytale retellings, especially when they are on the darker side. That being said, while I still enjoyed The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice, I envisioned a much darker story reminiscent of Kiersten White’s The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein.

Pirouette ‘Piro’ is the daughter of the renowned puppetmaster. Unlike everyone else, Pirouette’s father brought her to life using magic under the blue moon. Pirouette trains under her father as his apprentice, honing the craft as her own. When Pirouette is faced with dire circumstances, she has no choice but to create marionettes for the Margrave even if the nature in which he intends to use them is evil.

The prose in this book is beautiful and delicate, which is also how I felt about Pirouette for the first 50 percent of the book. Pirouette is dedicated to both her father and her craft. While I enjoyed her character, I much preferred the paradigm shift that we see in the latter half of the book. Pirouette changes from the timid and delicate daughter to someone who is strong, independent, and unrelenting.

I loved that the author put a spin on the traditional nose elongation that accompanies lying. Pirouette also must pay the price for lying but the way in which it was carried out was really interesting and original. I love that everything tied back to the wood that Pirouette was made from. It was more reminiscent of magic coming at a price versus being wielded without consequence.

The pacing of the story was slower than I would’ve liked to see. Again, the first 50 percent of the story feels more like an elegant waltz and then we move into the more rapid pace and darkness that I prefer in the second half of the book.

Thank you to Turn the Page Tours for the tour invite. Thank you to Page Street YA for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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