This is No Pinocchio story
by Adrian Tchaikovsky
“They were very beautiful, to her eyes. They were horrible, too, but only in a way that uncanny things often are, and in Loretz, the magicians’ city, one got used to uncanny things.”―
Adrian Tchaikovsky, Made Things
She was good at making friends.
Coppelia is a street thief, a trickster, a low-level con artist. But she has something other thieves don’t… tiny puppet-like friends: some made of wood, some of metal. They don’t entirely trust her, and she doesn’t entirely understand them, but their partnership mostly works.
After a surprising discovery shakes their world to the core, Coppelia and her friends must reexamine everything they thought they knew about their world, while attempting to save their city from a seemingly impossible new threat.
Made Things, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s wild take on puppets, a puppeteer named Coppelia, and the schemes of a local thieves guild. What is becoming known to me as a very Adrian Tchaikovsky way of approaching an idea. Adrian took the concept of puppets, which under any other author would be twee and quaint, and gave them personality and breadth of character. The main protagonist is the puppeteer Coppeliam and the trials she faces with two of her homunculi friends Tef and Arc.
“They were very beautiful, to her eyes. They were horrible, too, but only in a way that uncanny things often are, and in Loretz, the magicians’ city, one got used to uncanny things.”
Made Things is a story of many layers. Firstly we have the view of Tef and Arc. Two creatures who are trying to make their way in the world. When you are small and insignificant, the view from those who lord power over you is quite different. Though they are small, they be mighty. Secondly, Coppelia is learning to trust her mind and heart and where she should put her trust. There is also an exciting magic system in place, one that allows creating objects like Tef and Arc.
In the background are political disputes, but I think the real magic of the story and where Tchaikovsky has excelled is in the character creation of Coppelia and Tef and Arc. He fleshes them out and gives them life. These humonoculis’s are no Pinocchios.
“The workshops of her mind were minting sincerity in unprecedented quantities, depressing the market for years to come with their adulterated coinage.”
Suppose you are not familiar with Tchaikovsky’s other stories. In that case, they all have very similar qualities to them that make him one of the leaders in science fiction and fantasy writing today. He puts a lot of time and detail into his characters. I see this intensity of creation in his characters most in his novella work. It is as if his gift for writing has been distilled down for this medium.
The story’s plot is interesting, but honestly, I thought of it as only a vehicle to learn more about the characters and where they fit into the world. So, if you enjoy very character-heavy stories, don’t overlook Made Things. It will appeal to fans of fantasy in general, and as a shorter read, I think just under 200 pages, you can’t go wrong with it.
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Elizabeth Tabler runs Beforewegoblog and is constantly immersed in fantasy stories. She was at one time an architect but divides her time now between her family in Portland, Oregon, and as many book worlds as she can get her hands on. She is also a huge fan of Self Published fantasy and is on Team Qwillery as a judge for SPFBO5. You will find her with a coffee in one hand and her iPad in the other. Find her on: Goodreads / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter