Made Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky (book review).

Coppelia lives in the Barrio, the slum city pressed up against the most magical city in the world. She takes what work she can get, building puppets for a blackmailer and performing puppet shows in the streets to lure spectators into the path of pickpockets. Things got easier when she discovers her new partners, tiny puppet-like automatons that live hidden in the roof of her room.

They don’t really trust her and she doesn’t really understand them, but their partnership works as they both have something the other needs. When a strange workshop is discovered beneath the palace walls, their tenuous relationship will be tested. With unlikely help from some of the cities most dangerous criminals, Coppelia and her tiny companions delve into the darkness at the heart of their city. Can they trust each other enough to save an entire city?

I love the tag line of this book: ‘making friends has never been more important’. That is what this novel centres around, the idea of friendship and creating a family for yourself when times are tough and how those bonds are forged. This novella is a wonderful story in the style of a fairy tale with the orphaned Coppelia and her tiny magical helpers. Tchaikovsky has done a wonderful job of melding some of the darker aspects of the original fairy stories with a more modern lightness.

Coppelia is perhaps named for the beautiful doll from the Saint-Leon ballet, a doll so perfect that a village boy falls in love with her believing that she’s a real girl. A strange name for an orphaned child struggling to make a living in the cold world of crime lords who is befriended by magical dolls. Instead, it is the automatons that question the ideas of ‘alive’ and ‘born.’

If one wanted to get all philosophical, this book could to lead into discussions of sentience and consciousness, of power and powerlessness. But I don’t want to get philosophical and study this novella as I want to enjoy this lovely little book and the magic of a toy-like race of built magical creatures.

This novella is for fans of fantasy heist novels such as ‘The Lies Of Locke Lamora’ by Scott Lynch or Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Six Of Crows’ to read to or with their children who are just breaking into longer format novels.

LR Richardson

November 2019

(pub: TOR. 2019. 190 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $14.99 (US), £ 9.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-25023-299-1)

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