Author: Joanne Owen
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
224 pages • £9.99
What an odd little book this is. When it works, it really works: it’s like reading an old fairytale you’d forgotten you heard as a child. When it doesn’t work it’s largely cos the prose reads as though it’s been translated from another language. That kind of makes sense, since the action takes place in Prague in 1898, but seeing as it was written in English, it’s rather puzzling…
The story follows a young girl named Milena who finds herself being terrorised by an evil Puppet Master and his followers, twins Zdenko and Zdenka, while she tries to discover what happened to her vanished mother. Contrasting with Milena’s adventures are old stories exploring the myths and legends of Prague, which add a touch of the mystical. However, the true stars of Puppet Master are the twins, who are creepy enough to scare the bejeezus out of any child – Owen could only have been channelling the brothers Grimm themselves when she created them. If only the rest of the book lived up to their promise.