Title: Marionette by Sarah Main Burton
Published by: Structure Fire Press
Publication date: 12th July 2020
Captured supervillain Mesmer has a choice: die for her crimes, or repay society by using her mind-control abilities in the service of the American Hero League. The heroes of the AHL look forward to sending her to her execution at the first sign of a moral slip, but Mesmer still follows the “suggestion” of the AHL government liaison, Jones, and chooses life, of a sort…a life of service to the AHL and their sponsors, the totalitarian U.S. government.
Mesmer revels in the fury of battle, and thinks that heroism will leave her with fewer ghosts to bury. But life as a hero doesn’t leave Mesmer time to recover from what she faced in prison, and there are deeper horrors in her past…horrors that made her super in the first place. Horrors that made her villainous. If Jones weren’t there, acting as Mesmer’s moral guide, a future of madness and swift death would be her final legacy.
When Mesmer starts to find clues that the AHL is involved in a sinister conspiracy that could cut the disenfranchised population off at the knees, she must decide… Whose freedom she stands for. Whose safety. And whose version of good. Her life is on the line if she rebels against her keepers. The freedom of a nation is the price if she doesn’t. Evil wasn’t easy. Good will be the death of her.
A massive thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this book for review!
Marionette is a compelling and intricate story following the capture of supervillain Mesmer and her journey to becoming a hero. I love superheroes so needless to say I was really intrigued by this story and I have to say it was worth the read.
I loved how Mesmer’s special ability was mind-control and I found it really interesting how it worked in different ways. For example, she has to either touch someone for it to work or make eye contact with them. When Mesmer joins the AHL, she’s among other superheroes who also have special abilities and this was something I really enjoyed. I loved how each character had a unique ability and the author got really creative with this – one character was invisible, while another had healing abilities, for example – but I think Mesmer’s was my favourite. It just seemed a very fitting ability for a villain to have because you can do so much with it and you could see how she had become so powerful and feared by people. I loved seeing her use her abilities for good though and I found it interesting seeing a villain have to go against their darker instincts to be bad and actually save people. It was interesting how Mesmer felt like it was a betrayal the first time she used her mind-control for good.
I enjoyed seeing how the other heroes reacted to and interacted with Mesmer, and probably the most fascinating part of the story was Mesmer discovering that heroes aren’t much better than villains. At least as a villain you’re in control of yourself, but Mesmer finds that as a superhero, you don’t have much or any control over your own life and your actions. I loved how the more time Mesmer spends working for the AHL, the more she finds the line between right and wrong blurring. And most of the heroes she spent her time with were pretty questionable in my opinion. I’m not sure I’d appreciate them watching over me.
As much as I enjoyed Marionette, I would have like the author to expand on some parts of the story for me to fully appreciate the plot. For example, I felt like I couldn’t really appreciate Mesmer’s transformation from a villain to a hero because I never really got the chance to see what she was like as a villain. I found myself wishing we got to see her as a villain through either flashbacks or possibly spending more time with her at the start before she was captured. Instead, there’s other people and heroes who, through their behaviour and actions, paint a picture of what she was like as a villain. She was powerful and feared, and I wanted the opportunity to experience that. I also struggled to understand Mesmer’s connection with Jones. I felt like we needed an extra chapter when she was in prison and speaking with Jones to understand why she suddenly went through a transformation from a confident villain to someone who is so unsure of herself and struggling in her role as a hero.
The story is mainly told from Mesmer’s perspective, however, there’s a few chapters from a character called Kathy, who is imprisoned and having experiments performed on her body. At first I couldn’t understand what the connection was to the main story but once I realised how it was connected, I was impressed. It was done in a really clever way and the author gives nothing away until the end when it all comes together. I would never have guessed the significance of Kathy’s chapters and it helped me understand the story more.
If you are looking for a book that’s all grey areas and comes with an intricate redemption story, I highly recommend Marionette.