Told in engaging, conversational style (“I thought of the Fascists, the Nazis, the Manikins. Evil was eating up Europe like a plague of rats.”) Pinocchio’s narrative blends revisionist historical fiction with playful fabulist elements and dead-serious stakes. It’s a fairy tale for adults that doesn’t blink at the real world’s harshness or cheapen historical atrocities when lacing in the fantastic. Moon’s riffing on the source material has thematic integrity—after Pinocchio loses a flesh-and-blood leg in the Italian army in World War I, his “papa” Gepetto fashions a wooden replacement for the one-time marionette, an accommodation that informs the rest of a life. That life that finds him exploring as a sailor and a puppeteer, experiencing love and loss, and, crucially, daring to face the dangers of fascism on the rise.
Pinocchio and the “Blue underground” relishes the fight, but he’s no two-fisted pulp hero. “I wasn’t a natural-born human, and I never would be no matter how many stars I wished on,” this wounded hero declares. But he’s also, in his ways, as human as it comes, as Moon’s fantasy showcases the heart it takes to stand up for what’s best in us all as that evil threatens to swallow the world.
Takeaway: The surprising story of Pinocchio taking on fascism, written with polish and playful power.
Great for fans of: Amanda Leduc’s The Centaur's Wife, Julie Berry’s Lovely War.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
A new adult fantasy novel by Eva Moon follows the wooden boy’s continuing adventures into human adulthood.
Becoming real should have been Pinocchio’s happily ever after. But a deadly fight with a fascist officer in the wake of WWI forces him to flee his home in Italy. From tramp steamers to stifling sweatshops, from love to bitter heartbreak, he can’t outrun his puppet past. When his beloved papa, Geppetto, vanishes into a Germany newly in Hitler’s grip, he embarks on a perilous rescue mission. Pinocchio’s Guide to the End of the World is a fairy tale for adults that examines loyalty, love, and, ultimately, what it means to be human.
Author Eva Moon became fascinated with Pinocchio after undergoing a double mastectomy and total hysterectomy. “I struggled to accept this radically altered version of my body. Pinocchio also experienced a drastic physical change. His was wished for, but wishes are tricky. We ask so much of our bodies — to live up to impossible standards, to make us lovable, to reflect our ideal selves. Reality can kick you in the teeth.”
Available March 21, World Puppetry Day.