Cover Image: Marionette


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This story is set on the end of fin de siècle Paris, and follows a dancer, Cece, who comes into possession by a malevolent spirit, and a young artist from England, George. It features multiple forms of arts, yet none of them are executed successfully.

To begin with the things I liked; I was drawn to this book by its beautiful beautiful cover! It was different from most of the covers we see nowadays and eye catching. The writing was fairly good however some of the descriptions was hard to get through and quite boring. I was expecting a detailed and lavish introduction to Paris but unfortunately the background was not set in an inviting manner. I liked the folklore that the story was built upon but i felt like it could’ve been fleshed out more to expand the plot. Even though the first few pages were slow, the story builds in the middle and the last few chapters were exciting and fast paced (I did not like the ending though).

The characters barely had any depth to them, their dispositions could’ve been more amplified; therefore it felt bland and hard to connect or form an opinion. Cece and George’s relationship was rushed and there were no sparks or a real connection. Even though this novella is described as gothic-horror the actual presence of these elements in the plot was weak and unconvincing; I expected a compelling narrative, but personally, the story failed to deliver it.

I understand the author had to rush with certain plot points as this was a novella, but I believe this book could’ve been grand if the plot was full and the characters had more to them.

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC.

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This was an interesting quick read. The concept alone could have made for a bigger novel. However, I understand why it's a short story, if I took more than 1 day to read this I probably would have gotten bored or would have been less invested. I was intrigued by the possibilities of how the story would end. The concept reminded me of "Pulp Fiction" in a more creepy paranormal way.

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This novella tells the story of a paranormal… romance… erotica? I’m honestly unsure of what to call this strange little book.
In an attempt not to sugarcoat this, I did not enjoy this book at all. I usually adore eroticas, especially paired with dark romance which this book technically was. This one just fell flat for me.
I didn’t like the story, I thought it was very stupid and goofy. I won’t go into detail as to not spoil it, but it felt like I was reading a middle grade level novel with poorly written sex scenes. If i have to read the words “manhood” or “member” in regards to a cock again I think i may break my kindle.
I wouldn’t recommend this book, to be honest, unless you’re looking for a weird laugh.

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I didn’t expect to like this book this much, but here we are.

Hear me out. What drew me to this book was the cover. The cover is amazing, so so pretty. I had no idea what the book was about, so I read it completely blind.

I hate erotica and smut in books. Sexy scenes make me cringe, I just stop liking a book because of them. I don’t know if that’s because most of them are poorly written or because I’ve read too much smut by the age of 14 (thanks to Wattpad and fanfics). If I would have read the synopsis of the book, I would probably not pick it up mainly because it’s erotica. But it was really good, I didn’t cringe at all.

The book is very well written and easy to follow but also throws you into the right atmosphere, like it feels old but not really. The writing is very fancy.

I loved this story, like come on, it’s a horror gothic erotic novella, what do you want more from life?

However, I rated it 3 stars(on Goodreads )but my true rating is 3, 5 stars. It’s not a book I normally read and even though I really enjoyed it, I just kind of wanted a bit more. Maybe a bit more character development, maybe a bit more buildup between Cece and George.

Thank you to Brigids Gate Press for providing me with an e-ARC of Marionette!

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Mercifully short and not quite as depraved as it imagines itself to be. Not much else to add to this as it’s a nothing story.

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Thank you to Brigids Gate Press for providing me with an e-ARC of Marionette!

Can I hear a little commotion for that cover?!@! GORGEOUS.

I honestly had zero idea what Marionette was about besides the fact that it was horror & erotica; I think a lot of my enjoyment stems from the fact that I went in blind. Like, literally, my notes for this book reads, "what is this book even about?!" It's a very fast-paced read, very short & well-written! I think the main thing that sold me on the book was the setting/time period/atmosphere. Plus, I just really love women.

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A slight bit of erotic gothic which plays as Trilby At The Gates Of Hell. But then if the instigating incident in a book is called an erotic seance you know that subtlety wasn't exactly the point of the book in the first place. Cece Dulac is trying to make ends meet and get away from the life on the streets and prostitution that her upbringing has left her. So she agrees to be featured in said erotic seance there she is possessed by a ghost who - well its an erotic seance - you guess. Though this isn't just dead bodies getting their jollies, wouldn't you know it, we're looking at tearing down the barriers between life and death, permanent possession and a (sex positive) take on the dead returning.

There is, of course, a gentleman who is taken by Cece and thus confused and perturbed by her personality swings, and maybe murderousness. Marionette is a fun and quick read that rattles through a bunch of gothic and 19th century touchstones knowing that broadly while all of its bits are familiar (possession, ghost sex, hypnotism, fallen women, sexy heroes), they haven't quite been put together like this before. Basically the sex isn't embarrassing, so if you like the idea of Svengali with sex and ghosts, then it'll probably work for you.

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**Disclaimer: I recieved an advanced reader's copy of Marionette by Antonia Rachel Ward through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this opportunity.

Marionette by Antonia Rachel Ward is a dark fantasy romance set in the past in France.  It features a young exotic dancer named Cece who takes an opportunity to change her fortunes and becomes possess by a ghost who wishes to return to life to exact revenge against those who have wronged her.  It also features the perspective of a young artist named George, who comes to France to work on his art and falls in love with Cece.  It was published on August 16th, 2022.  I rated it 2 stars on Goodreads.

Here's the summary from Goodreads:

On the run from a life of prostitution and poverty, exotic dancer Cece Dulac agrees to become the main attraction at an erotic séance hosted by an enigmatic mesmerist, Monsieur Rossignol. As the séance descends into depravity, Cece falls prey to Rossignol’s hypnotic power and becomes possessed by a malevolent spirit.
George Dashwood, an aspiring artist, witnesses the séance and fears for Cece. He seeks her out and she seduces him, but she is no longer herself. The spirit controlling her forces her to commit increasingly depraved acts. When the spirit’s desire for revenge escalates to murder, George and Cece must find a way to break Rossignol’s spell before Cece’s soul is condemned forever.
Marionette is an erotic horror novella inspired by traditional folk tales and set in fin de siècle Paris.

This book was an interesting read.  I will fully admit that it wasn't really for me, but I was still curious, and I was right.  It wasn't really for me, and that's where this particular rating came from.  I tend to rate on the basis of how much I enjoyed something and this just wasn't the vibe.   There are definitely lots of readers who will enjoy this kind of book.

Outside of it not being for me, objectively, I felt that it was well written.  The characters were interesting to me, and I liked that we got both Cece and George's perspective.  It was really interesting to get two sides of the story.  The basic premise of the plot was interesting.  I like the idea of a ghost possessing someone to try and come back to life and to seek revenge.  That was fascinating.  However, I didn't like that it meant she was participating in sex acts without being able to consent to them.  But to be fair, I was warned about that at the beginning of the novel because it did give you content warnings.

One of the things I didn't really enjoy was the fact that it felt like insta-love.  Cece apparently had this absolutely irresistable quality and immediately George was head over heels and supposedly her true love.  I just wanted a bit more of a development there.  Though it was a novella, so it's going to be fast paced in that sense.

If you find the plot interesting, I would still suggest that you read it.  Everyone should make their own decision.

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George Dashwood is a young man wishing to make his name as an artist so he journeys to Paris. His father will only give him money providing he avoids the temptation of women. George has agreed to these conditions, however, that becomes hard to maintain once he meets Cecile.

Cece left her childhood home in the country, hoping to become a dancer in Paris. She is swiftly made the main attraction at a club- having been renamed Cecile- bringing in many men just to see her. It is there that she meets George.

But with all this attention, she quickly finds herself in difficult situations with only her attraction to George keeping her grounded.

Primarily it has to be noted that this story is simply a novella. As such, the plot is pacey meaning the romance is instalove and there are only fleeting moments of character development and world-building. It is a fast read- one that jumps between smut and the fantastical like a pendulum in an earthquake.

The plot of this novella is perplexing; is it cleverly plotted or just absurd? I've read the entire thing and I'm still not sure. It makes clever call-backs to subtly included earlier plot points- an impressive thing to achieve in so shorter work- and yet, other events lack the groundwork so instead they appear random.

Ultimately, there is a strong audience for this story. It feels rather as if Dorian Gray was a Black Mirror episode and that is guaranteed to appeal to many. It will also appear utterly bizarre to many others.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

I'll be completely honest, I just finished this about a day ago and already I forget most of what happened. It wasn't a memorable read for me. The sex scenes were steamy and well written but that was the only thing I enjoyed.

Overall, it wasn't for me. Once I post this review I'll probably never think about this book again.

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This was most definitely very different to the books I normally read but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by it! Marionette is erotic horror fiction, so obviously ‘reader beware’ and all that, you WILL encounter smut. I usually don’t mind sexually explicit books, but I also don’t normally seek them out so it was fun reading something different than the usual. It also helped that the writing was done exceptionally well - the author was able to entertain and intrigue, and made this little novella into a real page turner.

Marionette is able to entertain the reader with both a compelling mystery, in which you do feel interested in uncovering it, AND some straight up smutty scenes. But while I did enjoy it a lot, I also think for how short it is, that I would have liked for it to either have been straight up erotica or straight up mystery/horror as I felt both failed to dominate the novella. That’s also, obviously, a personal preference so I don’t think this should keep anyone from reading it - perhaps others like the duality of erotica and horror in short bursts!

I would recommend looking up the content warnings for Marionette before reading though as it could potentially be triggering for some! I would also say that while the author gives content warnings at the end of the book, including saying it has ‘dubious consent’, that most of the sexually explicit scenes are non-consensual due to the nature of the possession.

Thank you NetGalley for the review copy!

Rating: 3.75

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A very quick and enjoyable read. However, I really wish that we could have gotten to know our characters more as I didn’t really feel attached to them at all. Also, this is just preference, but I really wish trigger warnings were placed in the front and not the back of the book.

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A story of possession, prostitution and revenge. I am not sure what I wanted when I started reading it. Still not sure what I wanted from it when finished reading it. It was not bad, not exactly unexpected.

I felt like the story was a bit rushed. There was no actual relationship between the two main character, which made it hard for me to believe in them and their "true love". More than none, it was more superficial.

I did get some pleasant surprise in how the story went on. The discovery of the aunt was well made in my opinion.

I was not too unhappy with the descriptions and the writing.

So yeah, there's that. Not disapointed, but not happy either.

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(Note: 3.5 stars - rounded down to 3. Full review linked)

Bringing erotic horror to turn of the century Paris, Antonia Rachel Ward‘s Marionette may be short but it certainly isn’t sweet. Dripping in Gothic ephemera, it blends debauchery, decadence, and desire with a compelling tale of possession – both paranormal and all too earthly.

There are a few content warnings for the sex scenes – the possession aspect of the plot doesn’t always leave much room for enthusiastic consent – and the resolution feels a little too fairy-tale, but there’s certainly something darkly delicious about Ward’s handling of the genre’s tropes when it comes to women, wickedness, and sexuality.

Short, spooky, and spicy, Marionette hits more than it misses. A solid little slice of erotic horror that benefits hugely from its setting.

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Needed more character work and some trigger warnings. Overall not my cup of tea- if you’re going to do smut, then do it, but commit.

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What a great read! A truly original take on possession and revenge. And Antonia Rachel Ward is a talented writer. She was successful at creating a novella with 3 dimensional characters and told an entire story. And don’t be turned off by the erotica label. It’s there, but it really does contribute to the story that is being told.

This is another quality release by Brigid’s Gate Press.

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I really enjoyed this delectable story of debauchery and revenge!

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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Thank you NetGalley and Brigids Gate Press for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Before reading this, I didn’t know whether or not I would like it, as it is not the usual genre I read. I weirdly liked this. It was very dark and gothic - which I do love in books. It deserved the 4 stars as the book is very unique and different, and was written very well. Whilst parts of it are quite disturbing, it kind of makes you laugh at the same time; it is just so ridiculous that it is funny. I thought this was quite clever. A lot of people were saying in other reviews that it was too short, but I thought it was the perfect length - I didn’t think it needed to be any longer. The plot just flows and isn’t detached (plot makes sense and events aren’t disconnected). I would recommend it to readers over the ages of 18. I also suggest you read the content warning before reading as there are some quite graphic parts.

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This is a short story set in Paris that tells us about Cece and George. Cece Dulac is an exotic dancer, who agrees to become the main attraction at an erotic séance. George Dashwood, an aspiring artist, comes to Paris to study painting and make some new creations. But once he arrives his friend Bastian takes him to the theatre and introduces him to Cece. George falls in love with Cece and wants to save her from this life, but Cece is controlled by the spirit now.

This was a really short read, yet I was still bored while reading this. The atmosphere is amazing in this story, you can feel Paris. But everything else... There were not enough interactions between Cece and George. I felt like only George likes Cece and I'm not sure if that was the author's intention. Also, I don't really think that sex was mostly consensual in this book since women couldn't control their bodies once the spirits entered them. That was a huge no for me and that's why I literally forced myself to finish this short story.

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Marionette by Antonia Rachel Ward.
On the run from a life of prostitution and poverty, exotic dancer Cece Dulac agrees to become the main attraction at an erotic séance hosted by an enigmatic mesmerist, Monsieur Rossignol. As the séance descends into depravity, Cece falls prey to Rossignol’s hypnotic power and becomes possessed by a malevolent spirit
Really good read. I l I very the cover. Different. 4*.

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