Book Review: The Puppet Turners of Narrow Interior by Stephanie Barbe Hammer

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Henry has always been the baby of the family– he doesn’t fit in with his mom and brother who rule the hotel-building world one historical site at a time. His time finally came to be of help to the family business; he was sent to Narrow Interior to encourage the restoration of an old New England building into a hotel, with a gift shop. As his family digs deeper into paperwork and law suits, Henry and his organic cousin along with miscellaneous townsfolk dig up secrets hidden in the history of Narrow Interior and the heritage of its people.

I enjoyed the premise of this book. It’s a refreshing change with all its twists and turns. There’s the classic plotlines of the black sheep of the family, not living up to potential, rebelling against the oppressing force, but there’s also the secrets of the town, a new religion, and the use of puppets to keep the readers on their toes.

The book has fantasy elements in a mostly contemporary novel. The main conflicts involve the hotel construction and the unearthing of the town’s religious roots. There are instances where puppets talk on their own and tattoos hiss whole sentences, and I honestly couldn’t tell sometimes if A. the character involved was crazy, B. the talking was metaphorical, or C. the puppet and tattoo talk and it’s just normal so deal with it.

Which brings me to my main problem with the novel. Really, my only problem. But it’s a big one. The whole book was entirely way too confusing. It’s written in different perspectives, but that didn’t contribute to the issue. The history of the town was completely new to the readers, so the explanations could have been more in depth. Also, the practices of their religion were unclear at times because I couldn’t tell what was actually happening and what was supernatural. And why the puppets were important to their practices. The concrete plot of the book was fine, but the entire under-the-surface events were unclear. There’s also one perspective that I didn’t understand its tie-in to the main point of the story, which is the unveiling of the unknown history.

I thought the perspectives were very well written. They all had unique voices and personalities that made each person interesting to read and dynamic. The varied voices made it completely clear whose side you were reading. The characters were the most developed part of the novel, in my opinion, and I would have liked seeing more background on them.

The book didn’t drag, and it certainly wasn’t a story line that I see all the time. If it wasn’t so confusing at times, I would have adored this book, but that’s was a major issue while I read.

2.5 Stars

 

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