Name: The Toymakers
Author: Robert Dinsdale
Number of Pages: 480 (Hardback)
Published: February 8th 2018 by Del Ray
Genre: Historical, Fantasy, Magical Realism
The Emporium opens with the first sign of frost…
It is 1917, and while war wages across Europe, in the heart of London, there is a place of hope and enchantment.
The Emporium sells toys that capture the imagination of children and adults alike: patchwork dogs that seem alive, toy boxes that are bigger on the inside, soldiers that can fight battles on their own.
Into this family business comes young Cathy Wray, running away from a shameful past. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that the Emporium has secrets of its own… – from Goodreads
With the first frost of winter the Emporium opens it’s doors, revealing a vast world of magic and imagination.
In Papa Jack’s Emporium are wonders to delight any child, and a chance to recapture something of the magic of childhood. Papa Jack is famed for his wondrous creations, from incredibly life-like patchwork animals to floating balloons in which a child can ride.
Cathy Wray finds her way into this self-contained world when she runs away from home. She takes a job at the emporium and becomes involved in a rivalry between the two brothers, Kaspar and Emil, who compete to one day inherit the business from their father, and also for Cathy’s affections.
I loved the opening chapter of this book, the description, the fantasy, the magic. It really drew me in.
The story is part magical escapism, part family saga, and follows the lives of Cathy, Kaspar, Emil and their families throughout many years during which there is love, but also the horrors of two world wars, and an unending rivalry which may just be the end of the unique world in which they live.
The story offers up magic, tragedy, longing and hope in a vivid tale with an ending I didn’t expect. There is such contrast between the wonders and whimsy of the emporium with it’s castle made of clouds and the horrors of a Siberian wilderness through which Papa Jack journeys during imprisonment as a younger man. Add to this a wonderful patchwork dog called Sirius (who I loved) and an unending army of toy soldiers (which I didn’t love quite as much but I liked the way they featured towards the end) and you’ve got a fascinating tale.