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Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism: A Novella

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  351 ratings  ·  81 reviews
From the creator of Hellboy, an illustrated novella that brings Twilight Zone originality to the written page...

In the aftermath of a criticalWorld War II battle, Father Gaetano is assigned as the sole priest at the Church of San Domenico in the small, seaside Sicilian village of Tringale. The previous pastor has died and there is a shortage of clergy at the moment, so unt
Hardcover, 163 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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Now, it isn’t often that my bank of cultural references is useful. I don’t have a comprehensive understanding of Shakespeare, never read the Bible, and maintain only a vague understanding of Celebrity Apprentice. I typically read books I find on clearance racks and haven’t watched network television in two years. Because I am an elitist, hipster asshole.

That said, I have watched more than my fair share of horror movies featuring killer puppets. There’s Screamtime, of course. And Pinocchio’s Reve
Kat  Hooper
Originally posted at FanLit.

There is just no way I can resist reading a novella called Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism, especially when it’s written by the guy who created Hellboy. As I expected, I was rewarded with just over 4 hours of constant audio entertainment.

The young priest Father Gaetano has just been assigned to a church in Sicily that has taken in children who were orphaned during World War II. The nuns love the children and are doing the bes
It would not be a “spoiler” to suggest that anyone who has ever watched a Night Gallery or Twilight Zone episode with a ventriloquist is going to know what will happen in Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism. If one has never seen movies about malevolent dolls named “Chuckie” or even considered what might have happened if Pinocchio had longed to work for Murder, Inc. rather than being a “real boy,” there would still be enough foreshadowing in this fascinating novella to let you know what was going ...more
Loved it. Won on a Goodreads giveaway and very delightfully surprised at how enjoyable it was. I'm guessing most people would know the authors right away as the ones who did Hellboy and other popular comics but since I've never been a fan of that genre, I went in without any preconceptions. You know from the beginning (especially if you've read the back cover) what the basic story is, and there's really no surprises to it: a priest, some nuns, some orphans, and a box of puppets - only so many di ...more
Orrin Grey
I love novellas, and this one is beautifully presented. A nice size, attractive hardcover, and with illustrations by Mignola. And it's a good, simple, straightforward tale of the quiet supernatural, which I love. And it's about puppets, which I love. (Pretty much all of Mignola's illustrations are just pictures of spooky puppets, a fact about which you will not find me complaining.) The length made for a very pleasant read, very slow burning, which I sort of liked, but in the end I think there w ...more
Scott D.
This review is of the audiobook edition, and was posted originally at SFFaudio (

When this audio novella came in for review, it took a few days to make the connection: Mike Mignola is the creator of Hellboy! I'm a fan of the Hellboy movies (directed by Guillermo del Toro), but haven't picked up any of the comics. If anyone has a recommendation for a particular volume I'd like to give it a go.

Mignola and Christopher Golden, the writing team that produced some Hellboy novel
Thanks to Goodreads First Reads and St. Martin's Press for an ARC of Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism: A Novella.

Set in Sicily ravaged by World War II, Father Gaetano takes over the Church of San Domenico's rectory/orphanage. While he leads mass and tends to his parishioners, Father Gaetano takes most pride in teaching the children the Bible and the value of God in their lives. As most of the children have lost loved ones in the war, this turns out to be a difficult task. Father Gaetano stumble
I mostly picked this up for the title and the cover. The artwork has the same angular creepiness as the Hellboy comics (as you'd expect from Mike Mignola), and, well, how can you not want to know the story behind Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism?

The plot's not bad, but the characters never quite grabbed me. I should feel for the children orphaned by WWII, the young priest struggling under the weight of his responsibilities, the veteran nun looking after her charges...and when hints of puppets m
Sarah Lawrence
I chose 84, Charing Cross Road to fit in my purse, but I finished it in just over two subway rides...which left me up a creak the next day, when I once again had to leave behind my briefcase. I'd already read The Little Prince , which meant I was running out of short, small books. Rather than commit to a 300-page trade paperback, I reached for this one.

What a delightfully creepy little story!

There were a few things that chafed, though.

1. Requisite priest/nun romance on the side of an imper
this book is only 163 pages long - and it didn't really start til like page 100. There is a good, simple, creepy short story here that either, 1) an editor didn't condense or 2) an editor loved the story and wanted it extended to a novella. Either way - it was a mistake. I almost stopped reading this book and gave up several times. I should have. Very disappointing. Boring for most, and then when not - too little too late.
I like Mike Mignola's comic books, but this was just bad. Dull, over-explanatory prose; dialog that no one, in Sicily or elsewhere, would ever speak; and a simplistic story which, if it had been reduced to 20 pages, would still have been overlong (Are we like puppets in the hands of God? Gosh, I don't know Goliath!), made this a slog, even though it only took a few hours to read.
Kayla Eklund
Note: This is my husband, Seth's, review as he is helping me with my gigantic review pile.

Be warned, minor spoilers ahead. Skip to last paragraph to avoid any potential plot points you don’t want to know.

This novella was a quite a quick fun read. Clocking in at 163 pages, one should be able to read it in one sitting. Well, at least that’s how it was for me.

As short as this book is, it draws you in. I couldn’t help but imagine the feel of threadbare socks sliding across hardwood floors. The atm
Chris Knox
Toy Story meets Twilight Zone... Absolutely fantastic.

Really snappy novella, loved it
In the middle of the chaos, death, and destruction of WWII, in the tiny town of Tringale in Sicily, Father Gaetano is trying to teach the orphans of the convent of San Domenico. He is charged with teaching them the Bible, as well as bringing them the message of God’s love and forgiveness. But the orphans are resistant: How can they believe in a loving God? Why would God kill their parents and destroy their homes?

Little Sebastiano has one precious toy: a puppet, which, so the boy claims, speaks
Sara Habein
A friend recommended this novella for our book club selection, and I’m so pleased that she did because I’m not sure it would have otherwise crossed my attention. Set during WWII, Father Gaetano is assigned as the sole priest in a small Sicilian village, where not only must he conduct every mass, he must also see after the spiritual care of the many orphans who are now living at the church. To better engage the children in their catechism lessons, he brings up an old puppet set from the basement. ...more
What better way to teach children than with puppets? As we all know from sesame street, the muppets, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and the many other children's television shows out there, children respond to puppets, teachers can use puppets to teach difficult lessons to children.

In this book Father Gaetano, the sole priest at the Church of San Domenico, tries to reach the orphans taken in after WWII battles destroyed their city and took their parents. The orphans question the love of God, or even h
Ker Malkin Gesulga
Once upon a time, at the Church of San Domenico in Tringale, Sicily, lived a bunch of orphans as a result from the recent warfare days, which also brought a pretty big deal of havoc in the village.

Guiding these unfortunate children were the sisters sworn to The God Almighty. Sister Teresa was the mother superior but rather propounded to drop the title for she didn't want to sound high above her colleagues.

Shortage of clergy due to the late pastor, they'd sought Father Gaetano as a replacement.
When I heard of this book I thought, as an Italian Catholic Hellboy-fan puppeteer, what could be a more perfect book for me?! But unfortunately it didn't live up to my excitement.

I thought there would be more of Mignola's illustrations. There are about 5, I think, that are small, and re-used throughout the short book. They are not scenes, really, but just iconographic images. That was a bit disappointing. But, really, my first goal of a book is not to see how many pictures it has!

It's a sad tal
Andrew Logan
A story of sorrow, magic, loss, love and mystery set on WWII Sicily.

There are really good things about this book. A good story and an easy read. A modern, complex view of people's feelings and motivations.

There are some bad things. Some odd anachronisms, in particular. It is little callous in its treatment of its minor characters. It also feels underdeveloped as a story. It could be a much longer book. Explore characters and back stories more. But maybe that suits me :-)
Glad I read it.
Lupe Dominguez
Woah. Not what I expected at all but definitely pleasantly surprised. I think deep down we all have some fear of something and this was just mine: puppets that walked and talked in the dark. Awesome. But seriously, to take religion, especially during such a tumultuous time ad WWII, and teaching faith to children who lost so much, Father Gaetano, I think, does a spectacular job using the tools he has, even when he thinks he is losing his own faith. I really enjoyed it.
Brian Taylor
It seemed like this story was stretched beyond its means, like the author wanted to make it book length but failed. While the writing is of a high quality, there is too much unneeded exposition which really hinders the pace. I understand some tales are slow burners, but nothing significant happened until halfway through the novella. It just didn't work for me. The artwork, also, felt more like an afterthought rather than an integral part of the book, which is a shame.
I found this book on a library display of Neil Gaiman-esque reads. I love Gaiman so I grabbed it. Here's why I love Gaiman - magical, imaginative stories with unfailingly human characters. There's beauty in everything and there's moments that cannot fail to touch your heart. Also (and here's what I always forget) there's a liberal sprinkling of moments that make your skin crawl.
This novella had parts that made me tear up for the lost innocence of children. As the plot thickened, I was very glad
Fantasy Literature
There is just no way I can resist reading a novella called Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism, especially when it’s written by the guy who created Hellboy. As I expected, I was rewarded with just over 4 hours of constant audio entertainment.

The young priest Father Gaetano has just been assigned to a church in Sicily that has taken in children who were orphaned during World War II. The nuns love the children and are doing the best they can, but they are happy to have Father Gaetano’s help with the
Neil McCrea
Goodreads giveaways has been good to me of late. I really enjoyed Mignola & Golden's collaboration on Baltimore, so I'm looking forward to this one.

The ARC doesn't have the larger illustrations that will be present in the published edition, so I shan't be able to comment on them. That said, Mignola's art has seldom disappointed and the marginal art that the ARC does contain is lovely.

A solid, quick little story, maybe a couple hour read at most. This book contains more terror than horror, in
A good, chilling tale nicely augmented by several small drawings by Mike Mignola. The prose and the theology are a bit clunky. Overall though, it manages to capture a certain bit of charm very similar to M.R. James or Vernon Lee. Good for a better than average shiver.
Jack Haringa
A concise, interesting story with a strange premise, Golden and Mignola's novella effectively evokes wartime loss and longing alongside its exploration of ideas about free will and responsibility. Ultimately a little too Catholic for my tastes.
I was a bit confused about my own feelings about this book.

I like Mignola and Golden together.
Sometimes (as with this book) I wish they would let the illustrations and text inhabit the same space more. But generally, I like them.

What I was confused about was that for much of the novella (the beginning, especially) I just wasn't very interested. But then suddenly, out of (more or less) nothing, something wonderful. Dialectics, drama, horror, and big questions.

I'd say it's worth it for the end
Rob Slaven
As always, this was a book that I received for free in the mail because I clicked a button. Presumably on GoodReads.

Mignola submits for your approval, a tale of a young boy... yeah, enough Serling. The back of the book touts this one as very Twilight Zone and it is fundamentally a blend of "The Dummy" and "The Invaders". There's not really much that's terribly original about this book but it is wonderfully executed. Set in war-torn Sicily during the second world war, the whole thing comes across
Robert Delikat
This was a short book; the title itself names it as a novella. For me, short books need to have a tight story line. I believe that a book loses its cohesiveness when multiple arcs are brought into play. I think that this was a flaw in FGPC. On the one hand this is a book about puppets that come to life after dark and on the other it is quite, I believe, tangentially about Father Gaetano’s temptation with a nun in the story. Was there a connection? I never found one.

I thought there were parts of
Adam Luptak
Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism is, if I'm not mistaken, the third long-form collaboration between Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, and I cannot help comparing it to their first, Baltimore. This novella was brilliantly written, if not quite as atmospheric. This story is far more concerned than that one with, dare I say, the mundane, but not to its detriment: I found the struggles of a young priest to restore the faith of war-weary orphans perfectly rendered with a share of empathy and rea ...more
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Mike Mignola was born September 16, 1960 in Berkeley, California and grew up in nearby Oakland. His fascination with ghosts and monsters began at an early age (he doesn't remember why) and reading Dracula at age 13 introduced him to Victorian literature and folklore from which he has never recovered.

In 1982, hoping to find a way to draw monsters for a living, he moved to New York City and began wo
More about Mike Mignola...
Hellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction (Hellboy, #1) Hellboy, Vol. 3: The Chained Coffin and Others (Hellboy, #3) Hellboy, Vol. 2: Wake the Devil (Hellboy, #2) Hellboy, Vol. 4: The Right Hand of Doom (Hellboy, #4) Hellboy, Vol. 5: Conqueror Worm (Hellboy, #5)

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