The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
Publisher: Del Rey
Expected publication: February 8th, 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism
* Received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much! This doesn’t affect the review in any way. My opinions are, as always, my own.*
Do you remember when you believed in magic?
The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!
It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.
For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…
Welcome to my first favorite book of the year. I know it’s kinda early still to say something like that because by the end I always have way too many, but this, I’m sure, it will be one of them. You guys have no idea how much I loved this book! I hadn’t even heard of it, but it was recommended to me and I decided to try it out. This was AMAZING!
The Toymakers is quite a complex and interesting story set in London. It goes from 1907 until 1953. So the whole story happens during both of the World Wars. They have a big impact in this book and I really like that the timeline was so long, since we were able to follow our main character since she was a teenager until she was a grandmother. It just made it all even more special, you know what I mean? I feel that often the only way we know so much about a character is that it’s a series and as just a standalone, this book did something I never even thought I wanted… It made me connect with the character on a whole other level and somehow I really felt part of the story.
Cathy Wray is our main character and she is just 16 years old when we meet her. She was desperate when she reached Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium, and she got a job there. I’m trying not to give much away since this is quite a complex story, and a lot of things happen but, the thing about the Emporium is that it only opens from first frost, until the first snowdrop blooms. And everyone that came to work there, then go away, the exception being, of course, Papa Jack and his two sons, Kaspar and Emil. But Cathy stays and we see her live evolving and all the magic behind the Emporium’s doors.
Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium is a fascinating place, full of magic, happiness, and possibilities. It will make you nostalgic; it will make you reach for your inner child and throw yourself into all the fascinating things happening; best of all, it will make you believe. Believe in the extraordinary and in everything you miss from your childhood. It’s a place you will wish to have visited. For I sure do.
I can’t make it justice to how unbelievably beautiful this book is, but I really urge you to read it. It’s full of magic both ordinary and extraordinary, it’s full of hope, love, and emotions and by the end, you will not believe in what you’ve read. Everything in here is unexpected and a lot less fluffy than I first thought it was going to be. It’s a sweet book but it also has a realistic and hard part to it – especially the war parts – and those are really hard-hitting to read because you get used to living in that amazing wonderland.
I loved the characters, how different they were, but how well they complemented each other. How they let their inner child live so fully, how they saw the world in a totally different light and how much they meant to me. You just really got engrossed in the story and it was impossible not to care for all the characters, even the dog is special for me!
The writing was truly beautiful, it sucks you in… It just grips you… I couldn’t stop reading, if I hadn’t had stuff to do I believe I would have read this in one sitting. It really touched me and made me feel tons of emotions. It even made me cry… Although yeah, I do cry easily but still, it was tense and unexpected and just… Ahh… Read it!!
Also, I feel that I should say that among other things, this book talks about PTS (post-traumatic stress) and how war changes people, teenage-pregnancy, family issues, in case someone is sensitive to any of those topics. I feel that they were talked about with great care and in a slightly realistic way, because I mean, we are talking about a magical toy store… But even the magic was believable and beautiful! This was the best magical realism I’ve read.
This was an amazingly beautiful book. If you like magical realism and historical fiction conjoined, this is the book for you. But I believe that anyone would enjoy this book. It will transport you to when you were a child and it will just make everything possible! Highly recommend it!
What did you think of it? Are you excited about this book? Let’s discuss it in the comments below!