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Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism: A Novella

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  502 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
From the creator of Hellboy, an illustrated novella that brings Twilight Zone originality to the written page...

In the aftermath of a critical World 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 u
Hardcover, 163 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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Kat  Hooper
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
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
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Orrin Grey
Oct 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mignola
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
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
This dark fiction novella needed a lotta splainin' to this non-catholic gal here. And even tho I'm not religious, I like the stories that blend religion and horror. But more than half of this novella by two kickass authors built up the religious theme (I get it now!) before winding down to the scary stuff. I liked it, I just wish there had been more of it.

For you Catholics, it might present some questions. I don't know. Who am I to say? But my final rating was 3 1/2 stars and a recommend if this
Joseph R.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read_2016
World War II Sicily is home to much hardship. The church of San Domenico has just lost its priest so young Father Gaetano is assigned. The parish rectory has been converted to an orphanage that is supported by nuns from the next-door convent. The children (a mixture of boys and girls) are taught by the nuns but catechism class falls to Father Gaetano. He has trouble connecting to the children until he discovers a puppet theater with plenty of puppets. A former caretaker left them behind. Most ch ...more
Scott D.
Nov 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
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
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This short novel is a good examination of faith and religion in the face of catastrophic loss due to war; the supernatural element is rather obvious, and serves as something of a literary metaphor for the religious structure. The illustrations are nice but aren't as big of a part here as they have been in other Mignola/Golden collaborations. It's a quietly sad story, with both the puppet and human characters nobly persevering against temptation, loss, and fear.
May 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Nov 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
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.
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a charming novella that deals with pain and loss of faith in the aftermath of war, as well as doll horror. It is written with an economy of detail and a simplicity that makes it appropriate for a variety of ages, but isn't lacking depth.

I can't help thinking it would make a good film.
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Toy Story meets Twilight Zone... Absolutely fantastic.

Really snappy novella, loved it
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
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have dolls. None of them are sweet or cuddly. Nearly all of them are sinister or downright scary so this book was certainly my cup of tea. I think puppets are especially terrifying in that they are meant to move but they do so in a jerky, not quite normal way no matter how good the person manipulating them. Father Gaetano is a young priest sent to a convent that is harboring orphans at the end of WWII. The children are difficult and so finding a trunk of puppets seems like a godsend that will ...more
Oct 19, 2017 rated it liked it
One of those creepy puppets-come-to-life stories with a bit of possession thrown in for good measure. Not a bad story; a little predictable.
James Rhodes
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Conceptually brilliant and well written, I wanted to enjoy this a lot more than I did. As it was, I never really gelled with the characters and found it a bit of a slog.
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, signed-books
"Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism" was an outstanding novella. I love horror, and stories that take place during the second World War, so this was perfect. I'm never sure how co-authoring books works, but Mignola and Golden make a great team. They've done other books together before, Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, Joe Golem and the Drowning City: An Illustrated Novel, and a few comic books. The story is about an orphanage in a church in Tringale, which is in Sicily, d ...more
Feb 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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
Ker Malkin
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s ever-fruitful partnership yields, at first impression, what seems like a horror novel but ultimately reveals itself as a campfire-story meditation on the problem of evil in the world – a spiritual complement to their work on Baltimore.
The drama comes from Father Gaetano’s efforts to persuade child witnesses of World War II’s horrors that God’s love is real and available. In response to understandable skepticism from his orphaned charges, particularly young S
Oct 01, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Karina Maza-gildea
This was a creepy story. Not my cup of tea at all.
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked 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
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Neil McCrea
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Fantasy Literature
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 18, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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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...