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WesternSFA
Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism
by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
St. Martin's Press, $19.99, 163pp
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Mike Mignola is the illustrator known for his Hellboy comic art. Christopher Golden is a master of fantasy/horror/suspense. Together they have created a charming and poignant story with a light touch of horror.

The story takes place in a small village on the island of Sicily just after WWII. The village was strongly affected by the loss of many souls leaving behind many orphaned children. The local church has taken in all the children they can find and made an orphanage. But the village has been missing a pastor for a while and into this troubled environment comes young Father Gaetano. The young pastor is challenged to find a way to bring faith back to these broken children. When he finds a box of finely made puppets he is delighted with the idea of using them to put on a puppet theatre using bible stories. The puppets were left behind by the building’s former caretaker but one was given to one of the little boys, Sebastiano. The puppet has been his constant companion and afforded him much comfort. The puppet disturbs some of the children with its afterhours antics and walkabouts. But only one other child is truly terrified of the apparently sentient puppet and refuses to interact with the other puppets or participate in the puppet theatre. And while the children are slow to believe in the stories, the puppets are not. One must be careful with bible stories; even the cautionary tales can be terrifying when taken literally.

This was a small delight; a little book with a vivid story. Golden has a deft touch with horror and people; never forsaking what makes us people, for common monsters and gore. The plot was tight and the characterizations good. I would’ve liked more of Mignola’s drawings; I think the publisher could have afforded another page or two added to the total to give us just a little more. ~~ Catherine Book

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