After tragedy strikes a small village, killing all of its children, the villagers strike a deal with their local witch to create a new child, a patchwork of those who died, to replace those they have lost. With great reluctance, the witch complies, and soon produces Elizabeth, the “Poppet” referred to in the title. The witch is killed before the process is completed, leaving Elizabeth with many unanswered questions and a fragile identity. Throughout her many adventures, her search for the truth of her existence remains her main motivation.
The “Lune” is Faolin, a reluctant werewolf who becomes Elizabeth’s loyal companion, protector and friend. He has a compelling story of his own, neatly sidestepping the categories of mere sidekick or romantic interest (although he does, in part, fill both these roles). In fact, all of the characters in The Poppet and the Lune resist being pigeonholed, either with intriguing backstories or with a pervasive aura of mystery that leaves one wondering about them long after the story is over.
The Poppet and the Lune is nothing short of a rejuvenation of a dying genre. It is fresh, original and brilliantly plotted, with characters that the reader cares about easily and deeply. It steers clear of most of the common clichés, and offering up genuine surprises in their place. I honestly believed that I knew where the main character’s story arch was leading, but the ending was both different and better than I expected.
It’s hard for me to review this book without sounding completely giddy and uncritical, so I hope the reader will understand that this is a very unusual reaction for me. As an editor and reviewer, my first instinct is to pick apart whatever I’m reading, which often makes it harder to slip completely into the atmosphere of a book. In addition, I had more or less given up on the fantasy genre in the late ‘90s, when all original thought appeared to have been bred out of it.
A few small criticisms: the book would have benefitted from a more thorough proofreading, although the flaws that have been overlooked are not more than many conventional works contain. These may also have been corrected in more recent editions.
My second concern is not directly with this novel, but with the discrepancy in quality between Franklin’s novel-length and shorter works. This novel obviously received a great deal of care and attention, and I would love to see that same attention applied to her short stories, which often appear to be more impulsive and unpolished. I would like to see that gap in quality closed so that Franklin’s shorter works, as well as standing more firmly on their own, can serve as better ambassadors to her wonderful novels.
Title: The Poppet and the Lune
Author: Madeline Claire Franklin
Publication: 2011, Kindle Direct Publishing, paperback
Price: $0.99 (Kindle), $13.99 (paperback)
Author’s Website: http://www.madelineclairefranklin.com