Book Review – ‘The Toymakers’ by Robert Dinsdale ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Do you remember when you believed in magic?

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 of 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….

 

“Are you lost? Are you afraid? Are you a child at heart?

So are we.”

15-year-old Cathy Wray is hiding a secret, one that threatened to disgrace her family and lead to her running away from home.  She flees to London to apply for a job at Papa Jack’s Emporium,and is immediately set to work. The Emporium is like no toyshop she has laid eyes on before. It is a strange, magical place where some of the toys seem to be alive and others can do impossible things. Run by Papa Jack, a man of bear-like stature, and his two sons Kaspar and Emil, who are all Toymakers, it opens every year at first frost and opening night, the night Cathy arrives, is always one of great fanfare, chaos and large crowds.  Cathy is enchanted by the Emporium and becomes close to Kaspar and Emil, even becoming yet another “thing” for them to do battle over.

For me, part of the joy of this book was being just taken along for the journey and knowing little about how it would unfold. For that reason, I will only tell you that the story follows the life of Cathy and many others who work at the Emporium, reading as the changing world affects them in unimaginable ways.

“..once upon a time, all of us….were little boys and girls, happy with nothing more than bouncing a ball against a wall.”

I had been wanting to read this book for a while but I am so glad I ended up waiting to read it just before Christmas as was the perfect festive read. There was an immediate sense of magic as I started reading and the vivid descriptions brought the magic to life like I’m watching a movie reel. It really did take me back to those halcyon days of my childhood, particularly to the amazement and excitement of Christmas. I also really liked how the author addressed the reader directly in the narration of this book. It made me feel part of the story, like I was actually there on a thrilling adventure, not sat at home reading a book. I really did feel like I was one of the children in the Emporium, looking on in wonder as the toys came to life around me.

This was a mesmerising, heartwarming, unforgettable and magical novel. It is a story of childhood, sibling rivalry, jealousy, love, family, war and of the power of magic. Especially the ordinary kind.  This is a five-star book that everyone should read.

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