The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice: A Fun Pinocchio Retelling!

4.5/5 Stars

Author: Lisa DeSelm

Publisher/Imprint: Page Street Kids

Edition: Paperback ARC, 332 Pages

Hardcover Publication Date: October 13, 2020

A Spine that Shines? Quite Well!


*I won an ARC of this book in a giveaway from the publisher. All quotes used in this review come from the uncorrected proof. These are my honest opinions. Thank you.*

Book Synopsis

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

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Now That I’ve Found You and The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice

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?

Book Review

‘Bitter moon and solemn blue, blood of earth and sap and dew, wake a second life anew.’

-Lisa DeSelm, The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice

Initial Thoughts

Hello lovely bookworms! How are you all doing? Reading anything good? Yesterday after work, I was able to finish reading The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice, which is pitched as Pinocchio meets Frankenstein. What an interesting combination!

39B005E5-3160-4802-9B83-5AD8BB793DB8Here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • Although it is not a perfect book, I had to round up to 4.5 stars because I loved the creativity in this story! I love how it feels like you’re reading a fairytale right from the beginning.
  • You’ll definitely find puppets, enchantment, disturbed rulers, and even murder in this novel!
  • I loved the premise; the puppetmaster of Tavia is lonely, and one day, an old crone tells him how to turn one of his marionettes into a human being via the magic of the blue moon! Thus, the main character Piro is “born”!
  • The rest of the plot is fascinating as well. Piro and her father must complete a series of tasks for the ruler of Tavia. They must complete a set of wooden soldiers, a customized wooden assassin, and one other project I don’t want to spoil. Things turn a bit creepy and disturbing, making this a good fall/winter read.
  • The pacing overall feels slow but steady until the end, when things speed up a little bit.
  • The world-building is depicted well enough for the reader to get a sense of how things work in Tavia.
  • The twist on Pinocchio’s nose and telling lies is different and interesting in this story too. Lisa DeSelm really makes it her own tale.

Gephardt Leiter might be the puppetmaster, but I am Pirouette, a girl whose heart is made of stronger stuff than flesh and blood.

-Lisa DeSelm, The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice

Characters & Relationships

  • Piro is the puppetmaster’s apprentice and daughter. Magic is forbidden in the land, so she struggles to hide her very existence. She loves helping her father with the puppets – until the ruler of Tavia begins to send them “special” orders. From there, things go downhill for Piro, and she must figure out how to prevail.
  • Bran is Piro’s friend and the boy next door. He is also the tailor’s son. He’s a nice guy who really cares about Piro. She struggles to keep her secret from him as well. I appreciated that Bran is not the perfect love-interest; he makes a mistake, but that adds to his humanity and realness.
  • The romance between Bran and Piro in this story is super sweet, and I enjoyed it! There is a thing with a cupboard that is absolutely adorable!
  • The “villain” of this story is quite disturbed. His requests of Piro become more and more twisted in nature, and he has a room full of creepy puppets that he collects!
  • I was also pleased to see some great friendships in this novel. All of the craftsmen and women in the “Makers’ Guild” are fun characters to read about. It is touching to see how loyal they all are to Piro. They each had a distinctive personality, and I loved their camaraderie.

But woodworking is my native tongue; I relish the grain against my hands and dust beneath my fingernails, the satisfaction of polishing a piece until it gleams.

-Lisa DeSelm, The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice

Final Thoughts

540DAE86-2D4F-4D96-97A6-580188A7444EHere are a few final thoughts I wanted to mention.

I did note that in the prologue, there seems to be an odd mix of both 1st and 3rd person POV. But this could just be because I read the ARC. Not sure. The actual story is consistently told in 1st person POV. Just a small quibble. Overall, I really enjoyed the atmospheric writing.

At the end of the story, I enjoyed the big crazy showdown! Things go a bit haywire for the characters! When the pace picks up near the end, some things that happen feel slightly coincidental, but it didn’t bother me too much.

It is also nice that this is a standalone novel rather than a series. There are so many series in YA right now. Sometimes, I just need a good standalone! Overall, The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice was a very fun read. This book released last month, so I would definitely recommend checking it out if you like reading fairytale retellings. Happy reading, everyone 🙂

*Content Warnings: Some fantasy violence (death by fire, death by impalement, etc.); mentions of burning women at the stake in the past; some kissing.*

Copyright © 2020 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)

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Book review time! What was the last book you read and what did you rate it? I won a copy of The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice by @lisadeselm last month in a giveaway from @pagestreetya and @forest_reader ! These are my honest opinions! My rating: 4.5/5 stars -Although it is not perfect, I just had to round up to 4.5 stars because I loved the creativity of this book! It is a mix of Pinocchio and Frankenstein. I love how it feels like a fairytale right from the beginning! -The main character Piro was a marionette brought to life by her father with the magic of the blue moon 🌙 -Piro must build a wooden assassin for the new ruler of Tavia; the ruler’s requests become more and more disturbing – perfect amount of creepiness. -The romance in the story is super sweet, and I enjoyed it! -The pace felt overall slow but steady, until the end when things speed up a little bit. -I enjoyed the big crazy showdown/battle at the end. -The twist on Pinocchio’s nose and telling lies is interesting in this story too. -The world building is enough for the reader to get a sense of how things work in Tavia. -Piro has some good friendships too; the craftsworkers in the “Makers Guild” are all fun characters to read about! They each had a distinctive personality and I loved their camaraderie! -It was also nice that this is a standalone novel rather than a series. There are so many series in YA right now. Sometimes you just need a good standalone 😊 -This was just such a fun story and I look forward to reading the author’s next novel! #autumnaesthetic #ourmoodydays #simpleandstill #bookfeatures #mybookfeature #cozyandwarm #pagestreetya #tbrpost #anticipatedreads #retelling #retellings #pinocchio #fairytaleretelling #yafantasybooks #octoberbooks #bookreview #bookreviewer #bookblogger

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Up Next on My TBR: Now That I’ve Found You

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4 thoughts on “The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice: A Fun Pinocchio Retelling!”

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