The Toymakers
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...

The Toymakers Details

TitleThe Toymakers
Author
ReleaseFeb 8th, 2018
PublisherEbury Digital
ISBN-139781473551602
Rating
GenreFantasy, Historical, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Fiction

The Toymakers Review

  • Amalia Gavea
    January 1, 1970
    ‘’Are you lost? Are you afraid? Are you a child at heart?’’ I never thought that there would ever be another book that would make me experience all the emotions The Night Circus brought to surface. The awe, the magic, the sadness and the hope. Naturally, I was immediately drawn to the story of ‘’The Toymakers’’, but I thought that it would be an elegant fairytale, a book to prepare me for the festive reads of this year’s Christmas that’s fastly approaching. But this novel by Robert Dinsdale pro ‘’Are you lost? Are you afraid? Are you a child at heart?’’ I never thought that there would ever be another book that would make me experience all the emotions The Night Circus brought to surface. The awe, the magic, the sadness and the hope. Naturally, I was immediately drawn to the story of ‘’The Toymakers’’, but I thought that it would be an elegant fairytale, a book to prepare me for the festive reads of this year’s Christmas that’s fastly approaching. But this novel by Robert Dinsdale proved to be so much more. A gem of beautiful quotes, vivid characters, exceptional writing. A fairytale for grown-ups, a creation where life is seen at its most majestic and its darkest moments.Dinsdale has created a striking Prologue, written in a fascinating contemporary version of Dickensian language that is natural, flowing and poetic. So we are immediately transferred to the magical world of Papa Jack’s Emporium, a toyshop that opens with the first frost and closes when the snowdrops start blooming again...It’s a toyshop in the heart of London, but unlike any toyshop we’ve ever seen. Magic makes its home inside its walls and this is where Cathy, a young woman in need of safety, finds her way under difficult circumstances. Papa Jack and his two sons, Kaspar and Emil, offer refuge and the journey begins… ‘’It was the first frost of winter this morning. We don’t turn folk away, not on first frost.’’ The story is centered around Kaspar and Emil’s battle for the control of the Emporium and the affection of Jack and Cathy through her eyes, in a saga - because that’s what it is- that starts in 1907 and concludes in 1953. We go through the two devastating World Wars and the ongoing fight between the two brothers. The themes of love, loyalty and war are the ones that guide the story further. How hatred and affection are separated by a thin line, how war can wound our souls more than it can ever hurt our bodies. Dinsdale writes and magic and beauty flow through his words, but at the same time, he doesn’t shy away from darkness, pain and death. Jack’s background story of his imprisonment in Siberia is harrowing. As the Great War sheds its horrible shadow over Europe, the Emporium doesn’t remain unscathed and not only because of Papa’s nationality. The post-traumatic shock effect, the abominable ‘’white feather’’ incidents are brilliantly woven into the story, a dark reality to remind us of our bleak human nature amidst the otherworldly beauty of being a child. At the same time, there are scenes of ethereal, whimsical poetry, such as the night lights and the opening day of the shop year after year.The characters of Jack, Cathy, Kaspar and Martha are beautiful, strong, complex. Cathy is our eyes to the story and her strength, grace and loyalty are features that make her an extremely memorable protagonist. Martha is the exact, perfect copy of her mother. Jack is the rock that supports the construction of a turbulent lifetime and Kaspar is one of the most complex characters I’ve recently come across. On the other hand, Emil and Nina are horrible. I couldn’t stand them, I hated them so much...He is whiny, insecure, irritating, selfish. Nina is absolutely stupid, an utterly uneducated egoist, unlikable to the core. They were pretty well-matched and helped in making Cathy and Kaspar even more perfect.This novel is full of changes and implications and I try to safely step into the no-man’s land of spoilers. It starts like a fairytale, with a vague aura of ‘’The Night Circus’’ and a warm, cozy feeling of a late-Victorian Christmas read, haunting and dreamy. And it grows and becomes darker and darker. Darkened by a world drowned in blood and madness, by a man’s desire for control and self-assurance. Give yourselves the chance to experience a beautiful, bittersweet example of Historical Fiction and Magical Realism. Suspend all your realistic expectations, suspend disbelief and let yourselves enter the world of Emporium, where everything has a mind and life of its own. Where the aisles become a metaphor for every passion, strength and loss in our lives.Many thanks to Penguin Random House and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange of an honest review.My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...
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  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    Robert Dinsdale has written a richly detailed and imaginative historical story of the place toys have in the hearts of both children and adults through Papa Jack's Emporium located on Iron Duke Mews in London. It begins in the early part of the 20th century with a pregnant 16 year old Cathy running away from home to work at the Emporium which offers accommodation. A traumatised Papa Jack Godman began to comprehend the role that toys have for a child and the importance of accessing that childhood Robert Dinsdale has written a richly detailed and imaginative historical story of the place toys have in the hearts of both children and adults through Papa Jack's Emporium located on Iron Duke Mews in London. It begins in the early part of the 20th century with a pregnant 16 year old Cathy running away from home to work at the Emporium which offers accommodation. A traumatised Papa Jack Godman began to comprehend the role that toys have for a child and the importance of accessing that childhood innocence and wonder after he spent so many years imprisoned in Siberia. He brings his sons, Kaspar and Emil to London, establishing himself as a master toymaker at the Emporium which operates on different laws on time and space, opening on the first day of frost, through Christmas and closing on the flowering of the first snowdrop. The rest of the year is spent coming up with and making new toys for the coming year. Kaspar and Emil are now toymakers too, their relationship riven with sibling rivalries. This is a dark story of love, family drama, war, loss and magic destined to enthrall.Both brothers are smitten with Cathy, but she has eyes only for the gifted Kaspar, driven by intense wonder in his toymaking, and the insecure, jealous Emil, pressed down by his never ending worries, never stands a chance. Living in the dream Wendy House with the patchwork dog, Sirius, Cathy gives birth to her daughter, Martha and goes on to marry Kaspar. The Emporium continues to flourish, a place seemingly apart from the rest of the world, until it is rudely reminded that it is a part of a troubled humanity after so many people take against the Godmans with the imminent threat of the Great War. Kasper goes to war, coming back a devastatingly broken man who has mentally retreated back to the safety of childhood, aided by his music box, and beyond the reach of his family. Emil is now married to Nina and has twin sons, he has sustained the shop through the war years with the toy soldiers he developed to fight The Long War, but cannot understand why his efforts remain unappreciated. A long drawn out war of attrition breaks out between Kaspar and Emil, emanating from their different perspectives and philosophy which has long term implications for the families, the toys and the Emporium. Kaspar leaves and disappears, lost to Cathy and Martha, to all intents and purposes, his beloved daughter.This glorious novel is related from the perspective of Cathy through the years until she ends up living with Martha and her grandchildren. Dinsdale has a surprise for the reader at the end as it becomes clear that all is not as it seems. This is the kind of novel that will linger long in the psyche after the last page is read. It burrows its way into that part of us that is nourished by our intimate and close connections to toys, its links to childhood innocence, magic and joy, which become a beacon of light in times of desperate need. This is particularly true for those whose lives and minds become infested and broken by the horrors and darkness that lurks within humanity. An unforgettable and sublime book that I recommend highly. Many thanks to Random House Ebury for an ARC.
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  • Pauline
    January 1, 1970
    Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale is a story of Cathy a teenage runaway who takes a job in Papa Jack's Emporium. A place where magical toys are made and sold by toymaker Jekabs and his two sons. I enjoyed the imagination and the description of the toys that were created. I really liked the character of Cathy. I would like to thank NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jules
    January 1, 1970
    I loved The Toymakers. This was a truly magical and emotional tale.I was sad to leave Papa Jack’s Emporium. It was a safe place so full of wonder, love, friendship, hope and the magic of toys. The whole place came to life in front of my eyes. I was surrounded by toys the whole time I was reading this book. It was such a delight.However, this book is not all fun and games. While one brother obsesses over his toy soldiers in the Emporium, another is made to face a much darker world outside those w I loved The Toymakers. This was a truly magical and emotional tale.I was sad to leave Papa Jack’s Emporium. It was a safe place so full of wonder, love, friendship, hope and the magic of toys. The whole place came to life in front of my eyes. I was surrounded by toys the whole time I was reading this book. It was such a delight.However, this book is not all fun and games. While one brother obsesses over his toy soldiers in the Emporium, another is made to face a much darker world outside those walls. Even in this place of wonder, there is anger, jealousy and secrets. This story seeped deep into my soul. It was emotional, heart breaking and thought provoking.I’ve always treated toys as if they’re alive. I talk to them, even at the age of forty. I’m the kind of person who strokes a cuddly toy in a shop and says hello to it or compliments its appearance. I fear this book may have just encouraged that behaviour even more, so now I’m going to come across crazier than I already do. I loved the idea that when we are young, toys make us feel grown up, as we use them for role-play, but when we are grown up, toys make us feel young again. Toys are wonderful and so important in all our lives, whether we’re young or old.Such a wonderfully magical and emotional story that made me feel proud of my quirky imagination and strong desire to go on believing. A little bit of belief can go on a long way!
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsThere's so much to like in this book- the Emporium is truly a magical place, somewhere a patchwork dog can run, and play, and love. It brings to mind every Christmas film you've ever seen, Santa's factory brought once more to life within the pages of the book. Such a place might seem inimical to disaster but conflict arrives in the form of a young girl, pregnant and in search of a place to survive. Cathy is the instant and everlasting focus of two brothers, Emil and Kaspar, whose kinshi 3.5 starsThere's so much to like in this book- the Emporium is truly a magical place, somewhere a patchwork dog can run, and play, and love. It brings to mind every Christmas film you've ever seen, Santa's factory brought once more to life within the pages of the book. Such a place might seem inimical to disaster but conflict arrives in the form of a young girl, pregnant and in search of a place to survive. Cathy is the instant and everlasting focus of two brothers, Emil and Kaspar, whose kinship was already strained by jealousy, competition, and the problem of inheritance. Here, the changing relationship between the two brothers, reflected through war and play, is fascinatingly developed through the use of toy soldiers and the Long War of sibling rivalry. Yet for all that, the last part of the book is wrong, just plain wrong. It doesn't fit, not with the development of the characters or the plot of the rest of the book. From the sublime to the ridiculous, the shine of the novel tarnished, and ultimately disappointing. Still, the memory of the beautiful parts remain and it's hard to argue the talent of an author who can create Sirius the patchwork dog. This might not have finished the way I wanted it to, but Dinsdale has a skill of creation that I will look for again.ARC via Netgalley
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  • Lucy Banks
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.Richly written, full of magic - a lovely book.Others have compared this book to The Night Circus, and for good reason; as it has similarly rich, lyrical language, and deeply evocative descriptions.The novel follows Cathy, a pregnant young runaway, who finds herself at Papa Jack's Emporium in London. This is no ordinary toy shop, as hints of magic rule every aisle; from soldiers able to do battle of their own volition I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.Richly written, full of magic - a lovely book.Others have compared this book to The Night Circus, and for good reason; as it has similarly rich, lyrical language, and deeply evocative descriptions.The novel follows Cathy, a pregnant young runaway, who finds herself at Papa Jack's Emporium in London. This is no ordinary toy shop, as hints of magic rule every aisle; from soldiers able to do battle of their own volition, to wind-up patchwork animals that behave much like the real thing. Papa Jack has two sons; the affable Emil and the dashing, daring Kaspar. Both are key parts of the story's narrative (for reasons I won't go into, for fear of spoiling the surprise!). The book took me a while to finish, but actually, that wasn't a problem at all, because I was immersed in the lovely writing, which took me right onto the floors of the magical Emporium. It's not only richly depicted, but gloriously imaginative, and the characters themselves are easy to get attached to.An absolutely wonderful read, especially this close to Christmas. Go and read... now!
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  • Thebooktrail
    January 1, 1970
    I remember when I started believing in magic againWhen I read this bookVisit the Emporium for yourself - Enter the store in LondonThis is a joy of a read. The sentences are exquisite and the magical feeling they evoke, reminiscient of that sense of amazement you got as a child. There is childhood magic in this book and words of wisdom such as ““There’s a shared heritage in toys. Take any man and show him a hobby horse and a little piece of him will be a boy again”I was like a child going into th I remember when I started believing in magic againWhen I read this bookVisit the Emporium for yourself - Enter the store in LondonThis is a joy of a read. The sentences are exquisite and the magical feeling they evoke, reminiscient of that sense of amazement you got as a child. There is childhood magic in this book and words of wisdom such as ““There’s a shared heritage in toys. Take any man and show him a hobby horse and a little piece of him will be a boy again”I was like a child going into that store. The trees, the soldiers and oh! the wendy house. The store comes alive in more ways than one.It’s a story to discover for yourself as there’s not just magic in these pages but a sombre and poignant story too. Sad moments and meaningful glances off the page, but the whole package is like a jack in the box, as when you open it, there’s shock, surprise, awe and that after effect when you sit back and take in what you’ve just seen and been part of.The story is centered around Kaspar and Emil’s battle for the control of the Emporium. The book guides the characters through two world wars, two harrowing world wars. Love of a family, loyalty of two brothers to the store and their vision for it, and the war..not just outside but on the battlefield in the toy shop itselfThere are some harrowing moments though despite this magic – Jack’s background story of his imprisonment in Siberia, one of the brother’s experiences of the ‘’white feather’’ incidents.And the result of Kaspar’s time on the front line.What words would I use to describe this novel? The language is poetic, ethereal, like a flickering night light projecting visions of flowers, people and soldiers on the walls of your imagination.Enter the Emporium and then delve into the darkness as the book progresses…a war both inside and out…and the ultimate salvation of a childhood dream.Truly magical and highly recommended! Kudos to the author for transporting me back to some very happy and magical moments we all share to some degree.
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  • Jodie Humphrey
    January 1, 1970
    This is the most fantastic, magical, enchanting book I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It is both heart-warming and heart-breaking. Pure wonder from beginning to end. (Proper review to come when I have gathered my thoughts and feelings)
  • Tessa
    January 1, 1970
    This beauty was given to me by the lovely Parabatai Reviews as they had a spare copy (courtesy of Ebury Publishing) and I couldn’t be happier that I get to own such a masterpiece.This was my first ever proof copy and the experience of reading, first hand, something that wasn’t yet been released was incredible.Not only is this book absolutely gorgeous (I mean, look at that cover, it is the most beautiful thing I own), but the story was also out of this world. This book doesn’t abide to any standa This beauty was given to me by the lovely Parabatai Reviews as they had a spare copy (courtesy of Ebury Publishing) and I couldn’t be happier that I get to own such a masterpiece.This was my first ever proof copy and the experience of reading, first hand, something that wasn’t yet been released was incredible.Not only is this book absolutely gorgeous (I mean, look at that cover, it is the most beautiful thing I own), but the story was also out of this world. This book doesn’t abide to any standards, it is completely new and unique in itself.Reading the story of toymakers that create unique toys only a child could dream about takes you back on a journey through your childhood, when everything was magical. If I had to describe this book with one single word it would have to be: nostalgic. But the kind of nostalgia that makes you dream of better places, that leaves a smile on your lips. That invokes magic…Full review: https://wordpress.com/post/libraryofd...
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  • Imie K-M
    January 1, 1970
    This book has been raved about to no end on Instagram, and generally online. However, what caught my attention was a review comparing this to one of my favourite books: The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. I was lucky enough that my request was granted so that I could give this book a go. I originally planned only to read a chapter before bed, but before I knew it I finished the book at 4:30 am and was in love. The raving was for good reason – this book is extraordinary.You can read my full re This book has been raved about to no end on Instagram, and generally online. However, what caught my attention was a review comparing this to one of my favourite books: The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. I was lucky enough that my request was granted so that I could give this book a go. I originally planned only to read a chapter before bed, but before I knew it I finished the book at 4:30 am and was in love. The raving was for good reason – this book is extraordinary.You can read my full review on my blog but this story is a beautiful one of forgiveness, jealousy, war, family, love, growth, and a touch of magic. Dinsdale explores commentaries on humanity and choice through this magical toyshop that really hit you in the soul. I would recommend it to everyone and I would give it way more stars than just five!https://mythicreader.wordpress.com/20...
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  • Kate (infinitelynovel)
    January 1, 1970
    Such a rich, evocative story, bursting with magical realism and imagination. A bit darker than I was anticipating but that was one of the reasons it kept me hooked! The Toymakers is definitely a new favourite of mine.
  • Helen
    January 1, 1970
    This was not what I was expecting from the blurb. I was thinking it would be a light-hearted and magical Christmas read but it turned out to have a lot more depth to it and be a whole lot darker than I thought.It starts out as a magical Christmassy story. Cathy is pregnant and running away from her family who want her to give up her baby. She sees an advert in the paper for The Emporium, a toy shop, and instinctively feels that it's the answer to all her problems. When she arrives she finds that This was not what I was expecting from the blurb. I was thinking it would be a light-hearted and magical Christmas read but it turned out to have a lot more depth to it and be a whole lot darker than I thought.It starts out as a magical Christmassy story. Cathy is pregnant and running away from her family who want her to give up her baby. She sees an advert in the paper for The Emporium, a toy shop, and instinctively feels that it's the answer to all her problems. When she arrives she finds that the shop is full of magic and wonder and finds a place to raise her baby in safety.The two brothers Kasper and Emil are at war with each other. They have been playing what they call the Long War since they were little, battling against each other with toy soldiers. They are also competing over who can create the best toys, the most magical, the ones that sell the best. Emil takes the contest very seriously because as the younger brother he has always felt inferior to the confident and gifted Kasper. The toy soldiers he makes are the only way he can live up to the abilities of his father and his brother. When Cathy arrives at the Emporium Kasper and Emil also fight for her attention, even when the arrival of her baby force the two boys to begin to grow up. The intrusion of the first World War causes a further rift between the brothers. The author has created some interesting characters but they mostly feel flat and two dimensional. The female characters especially have no personality, we have The Martyr in Cathy who spends her life working for the happiness of the people she loves, and The Harpy in Nina, who berates Emil constantly. Both exist only to cause conflict in the men. Cathy is the supporter who cares for Kasper after the war and Nina pushes Emil to the edge so he has to take desperate measures.The magical feel of the book starts to fade as the family deal with the effects of war and what's left behind is quite dark and depressing. Cathy is the main character in the book but she doesn't have the personality to carry the story or shine a light through the dark places. A heartbreaking read but it aims higher than it reaches and the characters are too flat to hold interest. I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.
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  • Hayley Long
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley, Katie Sunley at Penguin Randon House and of course Robert Dinsdale for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this amazing book.This book did not play out in the way that I thought it was going to. It started out with this wonderful childlike feeling of magic and whimsy and as the years in the book progressed I felt this creeping responsibility of adult hood sinking in, yet there was always the possibility of magic.The Toy Makers was beautiful and sad at the same Thank you to Netgalley, Katie Sunley at Penguin Randon House and of course Robert Dinsdale for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this amazing book.This book did not play out in the way that I thought it was going to. It started out with this wonderful childlike feeling of magic and whimsy and as the years in the book progressed I felt this creeping responsibility of adult hood sinking in, yet there was always the possibility of magic.The Toy Makers was beautiful and sad at the same time, it was filled with some of the most beautiful quotes I have come across in a long time, was superbly written and a joy and an honour to read. It did take me a long time to read this book but it wasn't the kind of book that you could or even wanted to rush through, it was so engrossing and consuming you felt like you became part of the Emporium.
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  • Christina Reid
    January 1, 1970
    Absolute perfection! Magic and wonder hand in hand with hardship and horror. Full review to come!
  • Michelle Ryles
    January 1, 1970
    I was immediately drawn to the striking cover of The Toymakers and decided to read this on the run up to Christmas to inject a little magic into my life. I didn't expect to feel so emotional at the end but the power of Robert Dinsdale's writing clearly worked its way into my heart like a toy soldier scaling a battlement. Don't be mistaken: this is not solely a magical feel-good story, it is mainly set during World War I so be prepared for loss and devastation but you can forget about it for a wh I was immediately drawn to the striking cover of The Toymakers and decided to read this on the run up to Christmas to inject a little magic into my life. I didn't expect to feel so emotional at the end but the power of Robert Dinsdale's writing clearly worked its way into my heart like a toy soldier scaling a battlement. Don't be mistaken: this is not solely a magical feel-good story, it is mainly set during World War I so be prepared for loss and devastation but you can forget about it for a while when you enter Papa Jack's Emporium.The Emporium is hidden away down a side street in London and you could easily walk past it, if you didn't know it was there. This magical toy shop opens at first frost and closes as the first snowdrop flowers but in the short time it is open you can find every toy imaginable in its four walls, but even more toys that you could never have imagined. Papa Jack and his sons, Kaspar and Emil, create all the toys themselves and there's quite a rivalry between the boys as to whose toys are the best. Cathy Wray is drawn to the Emporium after she sees an advert in the newspaper, just when she thought she could not escape her predicament. So she runs away from home and starts a job in the Emporium, but when the first snowdrop flowers she has nowhere to go and hides in the wendy house in the Emporium. Both brothers find her at different times and keep it a secret from each other as their rivalry extends to who will win Cathy's heart. After the war, this intense rivalry threatens to be the downfall of the Emporium when Kaspar meddles with Emil's precious toy soldiers...the toy soldiers don't want to fight anymore and seem to have minds of their own. Can the Emporium ever survive when Kaspar, Emil and thousands of toy soldiers are at loggerheads and Hitler's bombs are flying overhead? Let your imagination run wild and expect the unexpected in The Toymakers. My imagination went into overdrive and I thought of those horrific Chucky movies as the toy soldiers were scuttling about all over the place. I found it terribly heartbreaking as the horrors of the First World War were touched on and hoped the soldiers had somebody like Kaspar in the trenches with them to give them some comfort.The Toymakers wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The Emporium is painted in such glorious colour through the magical prose that I felt as if I was visiting it myself. I think The Toymakers is a little like the Emporium itself, it's only going to be enjoyable to those who believe in magic but know that the big bad world is right outside the door.I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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  • Tintaglia
    January 1, 1970
    Premessa: per decidere se The Toy Makers mi fosse piaciuto (e decidere che sì, mi era piaciuto, e parecchio pure) ho dovuto riflettere un paio di giorni.Cosa inusuale, per una che di solito stabilisce se un romanzo è nelle sue corde alle prime trenta pagine ( e difficilmente sbaglia - è rarissimo che qualcosa che non mi è piaciuto alla prima si risollevi).In buona parte credo che sia dovuto allo scarto tra le aspettative iniziali e il prodotto effettivo.Insomma: mi capita fra le mani un romanzo Premessa: per decidere se The Toy Makers mi fosse piaciuto (e decidere che sì, mi era piaciuto, e parecchio pure) ho dovuto riflettere un paio di giorni.Cosa inusuale, per una che di solito stabilisce se un romanzo è nelle sue corde alle prime trenta pagine ( e difficilmente sbaglia - è rarissimo che qualcosa che non mi è piaciuto alla prima si risollevi).In buona parte credo che sia dovuto allo scarto tra le aspettative iniziali e il prodotto effettivo.Insomma: mi capita fra le mani un romanzo ambientato fra il 1907 e il 1953, in un negozio di giocattoli a Londra.Giocattoli meravigliosi, con più di un tocco di magia, e un negozio altrettanto magico: apre con la prima brina e chiude allo spuntare dei bucaneve.Ogni anno, da vent'anni, generazioni di bambini affollano i suoi labirintici interni, scoprendo castelli di nubi, animali di pezza che volano davvero, scatole più grandi all'interno che all'esterno, soldatini che combattono battaglie complesse e sempre nuove.E in questo negozio arriva Cathy, quindici anni e incinta, in fuga da una famiglia che vorrebbe farla rinunciare al bambino che porta in grembo; per decoro, decenza, vergogna. Cosa ci può essere di più coccoloso di un romanzo ambientato in un negozio magico di giocattoli magici?Ben poco, pensa una, ricordando con piacere The night circus.E legge, incauta e impreparata.Perché arrivano violenze sugli ebrei, e i campi di lavoro in Russia, e i traumi della prima guerra mondiale; i difficili rapporti fra fratelli; invidia e gelosia che infiltrano come veleno le generazioni; dolore e lontananza e tradimento; la degradante perdita della magia; e una sorprendente riflessione sul libero arbitrio.Il tutto sullo sfondo di un mondo a parte, toccato solo dai maggiori eventi di due decenni, fino alla sua disgregazione, quando la realtà diventa troppo per la magia.Ecco, questo è quello che mi sono trovata, stranita, per le mani: un'opera complessa e intelligente, che ribalta le aspettative del lettore, scavando a fondo e offrendo una molteplicità di piani di lettura.Notevole, davvero.
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  • Katrina Southern
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.I'm actually a little taken aback by how much I really enjoyed this one. I'd heard of Robert Dinsdale's work, in fact, I'd been hankering to read 'Gingerbread' for some time. I was thrilled to be offered the chance to read this book, especially as it felt like such a festive read! Toy shops are certainly the most magical place during Christmas time and I wanted a book that would take me back to my childhood. This cert I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.I'm actually a little taken aback by how much I really enjoyed this one. I'd heard of Robert Dinsdale's work, in fact, I'd been hankering to read 'Gingerbread' for some time. I was thrilled to be offered the chance to read this book, especially as it felt like such a festive read! Toy shops are certainly the most magical place during Christmas time and I wanted a book that would take me back to my childhood. This certainly did that! The plot concept of this book was a really good one - set in the enchanting Papa Jack's Emporium, his two sons play a constant, childish game known as 'the long war' representative of their desperation to be the favourite. Cathy Wray's POV makes a lovely 'neutral' viewpoint, and what I loved most of all was that each son was credible in his own way. There's a clear 'good' and 'bad' guy, but at the same time, there sort of isn't. Kaspar IRRITATED me to begin with, and I felt sorry for the often forgotten and downtrodden Emil. As time went on, Kaspar became more sensible and grounded, while Emil grew childish and a little obsessive. Dinsdale did a great job at illustrating the effects that past events, trauma and new characters had on each character (and the Emporium itself, which is very much it's own character too).I enjoyed everything about this book. The characters were well-constructed, events such as WWI were integrated in a believable way, and many of the twists and turns left me reeling. Especially at the end (I actually audibly gasped when it dawned on me what the toys were trying to tell Cathy, I did NOT see that coming), though I did feel that the way it ended was a little unsatisfying considering the story-long build-up. There are many gorgeous quotes and lessons to be learned about humanity here too, and I adored the toy soldier sub-plot towards the end. Dinsdale's gorgeous writing has very much made it's mark on me. I'll definitely be getting round to 'Gingerbread' a lot sooner!
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    I feel bad,for possibly bringing the average rating down a notch,and I feel bad for myself that I didn't get the book I'd hoped for.To be honest,most of it was quite good... I LOVED the idea of magic in the toy shop,because when you're young,it's a magical place in itself.I LOVED the idea of opening at first frost and closing at spring. The relationships between all the characters were great,and even when war intruded on this cosy corner,I enjoyed the book.However,when the soldiers started revol I feel bad,for possibly bringing the average rating down a notch,and I feel bad for myself that I didn't get the book I'd hoped for.To be honest,most of it was quite good... I LOVED the idea of magic in the toy shop,because when you're young,it's a magical place in itself.I LOVED the idea of opening at first frost and closing at spring. The relationships between all the characters were great,and even when war intruded on this cosy corner,I enjoyed the book.However,when the soldiers started revolting,I just wasn't sure any more.. it lost some of its charm for me... and all that followed,just not MY cup of tea.Solid start.... Not keen on last bit.
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  • Lady Fancifull
    January 1, 1970
    Sensing the life in everything : Magic for adults which will make, and break, your heart. Repeatedly.Who did not, as a small child, believe their toys were alive, or, at least, HOPE they came alive when your back was turned…….and so, yes, reading the synopsis of this book, my heart quickened a little in anticipation of recovering that state of ‘magic, real magic IS the world’, that was some of the place of that child, not ‘pretending’ a toy was alive, but, even if only momentarily, believing.The Sensing the life in everything : Magic for adults which will make, and break, your heart. Repeatedly.Who did not, as a small child, believe their toys were alive, or, at least, HOPE they came alive when your back was turned…….and so, yes, reading the synopsis of this book, my heart quickened a little in anticipation of recovering that state of ‘magic, real magic IS the world’, that was some of the place of that child, not ‘pretending’ a toy was alive, but, even if only momentarily, believing.The fact that this book was being compared to The Night Circus (which I adored, and catapulted me back into that place) was also appealing. The fact that it was compared also to The Miniaturist gave me pause (lacked it, in my opinion). I needn’t have worried. The Night Circus pleasurable shivers of delight up the back of the neck started very early with The Toymakers.Primarily taking place in 1917 (and making a journey TO that time and place from some 11 years earlier, the Toymakers is set in what any toyshop should really be – a magical place where the maker-of-those-toys really is a true mage and can make the toys live. Though the period of the First War will occupy a bulk of the book, it will end in the 1950s.“The most terrible things can happen to a man, but he’ll never lose himself if her remembers he was once a child”And that ‘primarily set in the period of the First War’ gives, I must warn, a lot of heartbreak to readers. A good author will have us invested in many of their characters – and Dinsdale, on this showing, is a very good author indeed.“Mightn’t it be…that until you’ve seen the dark, you don’t really know the light”Do take delight, as much as you can, in the playfulness and yes, that childhood remembered magic in the early part of the book, because payback time of grief will come. Without this reader feeling in any way manipulated, or in any way that the author was mechanically moving any of his sometimes surprising cast of characters around, my heart was being swung between imaginative delight and ‘I can’t take the sorrow of this’ moments.Readers’ Appropriate Behaviour In A Public Place warning : Do not read in a public place.. If you must, ensure you have a ready supply of tissues. Involuntary cries of ‘oh no, no, no’ whimpers of grief and the like can alarm innocent bystanders.Brief synopsis and subject matter, avoiding spoilersCathy, a young girl, pregnant, single, disgraced, runs away from home in Leigh-on-Sea to London, after seeing a curious, alluring advertisement in a local paper “Help Wanted…Are you lost? Are you afraid? Are you a child at Heart? So are we. The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. Sales and stocktaking, no experience required. Bed and board included. Apply in person….”Cathy becomes winter help in a most extraordinary toy shop, Papa Jack’s Emporium. Papa Jack, originally a man with a different name, and we suspect, a tragic story, set up his extraordinary toyshop, after arriving in this country from Eastern Europe, and Tsarist Russia, the father of two young boys he had not seen for many years.Papa Jack, originally a carpenter, crafts exquisite toys, out of quality material when he can, but he can also create something extraordinary out of found materials such as pine cones, twigs and grasses. Really extraordinary.By the time young Cathy reaches the Emporium, it is a famous and established place, financially successful, fabulously strange. Those two young boys, Kaspar and Emil are now also extraordinary toymakers, a little older than Cathy. Fast, loving, supportive brothers; fierce, struggling sibling rivals, both as inheritors of Papa Jack’s love, Papa Jack’s dream for the stability and future of the Emporium, and … well, much more.“A secret has been revealed, and finally I understand the true meaning of toys….When you are young, what you want from toys is to feel grown-up. You play with toys and cast yourself as an adult, and imagine life the way it’s going to be. Yet, when you are grown, that changes: now, what you want out of toys is to feel young again. You want to be back there, in a place that did not harm nor hurt you, in a pocket of time built out of memory and love”There are toys here, of course; there is magic, too. What is this book? It is a story of war, it is a story of the tangled web of relationships – parents and children, brothers and sisters, men and women. Not to mention toys themselves. What relationships might they have? What relationships could they have? Dinsdale makes us think about Creation itself, question who we are. He creates puzzles of time and space for us …..we just need to let our imaginations surrender to what once they wereI can’t praise this highly enough. I’m intrigued to discover Dinsdale has written earlier books, and I shall nervously explore them…….nervously because this book is so extraordinary that I would be surprised to have missed a writer so fine, for so longThe challenge is the one a reader has with a book which makes its own world so very much realer than the world we know. What on earth can I read next, that will not disappoint and seem pale and insubstantial? Poor author who has to follow Dinsdale. Not fair!I received this from NetGalley as a (very well done) digital ARCLucky, lucky readers about to start their journey with this one
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    There is very little in life that makes me happier than a book that whisks me away from myself and plonks me right into the midst of a whimsical world of Magic with a Eastern European slant. Admittedly there are not many of those to the Pound.The Toymakers is a sparkling example of the type though. It is utterly charming. The opening passages quite literally draw you in, down alleys and conduits into the most magical place I have been since my visit to Diagon Alley and a certain bespectacled Wiz There is very little in life that makes me happier than a book that whisks me away from myself and plonks me right into the midst of a whimsical world of Magic with a Eastern European slant. Admittedly there are not many of those to the Pound.The Toymakers is a sparkling example of the type though. It is utterly charming. The opening passages quite literally draw you in, down alleys and conduits into the most magical place I have been since my visit to Diagon Alley and a certain bespectacled Wizard.This is not a book for children, there are some very dark notes in the overall symphony of this plot, but it is, at its very heart a book for the children in all of us. It awakens parts of us that delight in the toys of our youth, the pure uninhibited joy of seeing those simple things that engendered imagination and play in us all.Set in the time of the gradual fall of the Tsars, beginning in the sharp cold of a London at First Frost, we are thrust into the Emporium, a Toy Shop like no other in the capital, where the toys themselves are imbued with a kind of magic that animates and enlivens them.Wrapped up in whimsy and wonder, this is a family saga, the tale of a father and his two sons. Siblings in constant rivalry for the approval of their talented,wise and wondrous Father, a man with magic learned not from a school for magic, but that of hard knocks. The story of travels across the steppes of Russia to a Prison work camp where the only joy is in the little scraps of twig and leaf that Jecob conjures to raise a smile in the harshness. Here men are cruel and vicious using each other as punch bags and worse. Where a truth universal , that we are all children wanting the joy of the innocence of play, brings him to England with no money, grasp of the language or prospects. Yet that skill from inciting fond memory and warm thoughts, brings people flocking to the Emporium in droves.Into his shadow step the two sons left behind as infants during that period of incarceration, caught in a interminable battle, both figurative and literally as they wage war with the legions of toy soldiers that younger brother Emil fashions from wood and paint and lacquer and a smidge of his own magical power, one born of envy ,of self doubt and love.Brought into conflict more violently when a young girl in a delicate state finds the Emporium the perfect place to hide from disapproving parents, Society and the impending birth. Both siblings take a shine to the lovely young lady. The innocence of childhood soon turns horribly sour and that is only the start.This is one of the most brilliantly complex and hauntingly beautiful books I have read in an age. It is angry and brutal and then tender and achingly innocent. It was a searing endictment on War and the battles rage on the fields of Flanders, the carpets of a hundred boyhood homes and in the hearts and minds of two brilliantly talented men, whose rivalry drives them further and further into a maelstrom that could destroy everything they were battling to control, on the brink of tainting the purity of the gifts they possess within their hearts and bringing the Emporium crashing into disaster that would destroy forever the joy of play which is the strongest balm for every wounded soldier be they young or old.Brilliant!Bound to be one of my Top reads of 2018.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    First of all, I'd like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.If I'm being entirely honest, my main motivation for reading this book was the fact that it was described as being similar to The Night Circus. I can see why some people have said that, but I should really know better by now than to pick up any book in the hope that it'll make me feel the same way as a totally different book did - that only ever leads to disappoi First of all, I'd like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.If I'm being entirely honest, my main motivation for reading this book was the fact that it was described as being similar to The Night Circus. I can see why some people have said that, but I should really know better by now than to pick up any book in the hope that it'll make me feel the same way as a totally different book did - that only ever leads to disappointment.To be sure, there are some sparkles and flourishes of magic throughout The Toymakers, and it's certainly a very charming novel, but I was definitely expecting it to be more atmospheric throughout. Again, this is a case of my expectations working against me, but there were definitely long stretches of the novel when I felt that the magic just fizzled into nothing. That said, it might not have been a problem if I had felt more attached to the characters, but I didn't feel a real connection to any of them. On that note, one aspect of the book that I found utterly bemusing was the fact that Emil's twin sons are never named? They appear quite frequently in the second half of the book, so it came across as an absolutely bizarre oversight.I did think that there were some really interesting themes explored here - the costs of war, mental trauma and free will all featured prominently, but personally I always found myself most affected by the parts that focused on memory and nostalgia. There's a very moving scene in the first half of the book involving a kind of flashback which felt like the heart of the whole novel, and I would really have loved to have seen that side of the story explored more! Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of war stories, unless they're even more critical of war than this one was, so when the novel started focusing more on that side of things, instead of the power of memory and the effects of the past, it left me a bit cold.A lot of this review has been very subjective - speaking a bit more objectively, I found this to be a highly original book, with a very unique spin on the age-old concept of toys coming to life and the universal problem of how to cope when the wonder of childhood inevitably fades. I just found myself disappointed that the magic gradually fades from the narrative as well - because surely fiction is the one place where we can always hope to find that magic? However, I have to say that the final pages were some of the most captivating and beautifully written ones in the whole book, and even though it was nothing like the ending I'd been hoping for, the book certainly finished on a high. All in all, quite an enjoyable book - just not as enchanting as I'd hoped!
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  • Gem ~ Bee
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, this is truly such a rich, evocative book it is almost impossible to sum it up in to a review that can do it justice; it will be a book that stays with me for a long time and one I can see myself returning to read again and again, which I rarely ever do.It is a Toy Story for grown ups, encapsulating all the magic emotion and wonder of childhood when toys were more than just toys; dolls, teddy bears, soldiers, were our friends, sometimes the only things that could comfort us and that we woul Wow, this is truly such a rich, evocative book it is almost impossible to sum it up in to a review that can do it justice; it will be a book that stays with me for a long time and one I can see myself returning to read again and again, which I rarely ever do.It is a Toy Story for grown ups, encapsulating all the magic emotion and wonder of childhood when toys were more than just toys; dolls, teddy bears, soldiers, were our friends, sometimes the only things that could comfort us and that we would confide in. There are reminders throughout the book that even in isolating loneliness we are never completely alone if we choose to look for the magic. To be able to evoke that depth of enchantment and charm within the pages of this book, yet simultaneously the dark despair and destruction that war brings is quite a talent that Dinsdale absolutely nails.You are witnessing the events over many years as an observer, invited to see the quite unbelievable sights of the emporium and the way the characters evolve. It all begins with a young girl, Cathy, in an impossible situation she makes a life changing choice and ends up in London, taken in by the Emporium on the opening night of the season. The owner is the mysterious Papa Jack, and his sons Emil and Kaspar. The clockwork dog Sirius was such an endearing character to me, as was the courageous Kapitan. The world of the Emporium is mysterious with a secluded, secretive air not only from the outside world but also inside it's own realm, where there are many hiding places, secrets, and closed doors. Jealousy, misunderstanding, and bitterness breeds in the face of much sacrifice, and when unexpected events change everything it becomes a true battle to find a peace within the emporium walls or risk losing everything.There is so much I want to say about the ending that I can't without using spoilers, but it is monumental and profoundly astute. I absolutely loved every page of it.I found the fragile sanctuary of the Toy Emporium and the battles of the main characters an allegory of how in life we grow old and lose our innocence and magic of childhood; we suffer tragedies, loss, illness, some become consumed by materialism, pride, greed, or control; but if we choose to do what's right, to be benevolent, to hold on to what is precious and be brave enough to protect innocence, love and freedom then a little bit of magic can always survive and reincarnate.I'm ending this review with a few of my favourite quotes from the book (no spoilers I promise):"Running was easy, she decided; but every runaway had to arrive, and arriving seemed the most difficult thing of all.""There are a hundred different clocks in the Emporium. Some keep time with the comings and goings of London seasons. Others tick out of sync, counting down the hours of that faraway coastline the Godman brothers once called home. Still, more keep erratic and uncontrollable times: one counts each third second backwards, the better to extend the time between chores; another elongates the evening, all the better to keep bedtime at bay. These are the times that children keep, and which adults are forbidden from remembering. Only a child could understand how one day might last an eternity , while another pass in the flicker of an eye.""When you are young, what you want out of toys is to feel grown-up. You play with toys and cast yourself an adult, and imagine life the way it's going to be. Yet, when you are grown, that changes; now, what you want out of toys is to feel young again. You want to be back there, in a place that did not harm nor hurt you, in a pocket of time built out of memory and love. You want things in miniature, where they can be better understood: battles, and houses, picnic baskets and sailing boats too. Boyhood and adulthood- any toymaker worth his craft has to find a place to sit, somewhere between the two. It's only in those borderlands that the very best toys are made."Thank you so much to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me this opportunity to read and review this book in my own words.
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  • Misaki
    January 1, 1970
    The emporium is full of wonder and it inflames the imagination!This story starts from the young pregnant girl, Cathy run away from her home to Papa Jack's Emporium in London to find safely refuge for protecting unborn baby. There are unordinary magical toys that people craves to get and also she mets the sons of Papa Jack, Kasper and Emil, both are the toymakers. She gets involved in love, battle of ownership of emporium and even darkness of World War as well.As you see, many people really loves The emporium is full of wonder and it inflames the imagination!This story starts from the young pregnant girl, Cathy run away from her home to Papa Jack's Emporium in London to find safely refuge for protecting unborn baby. There are unordinary magical toys that people craves to get and also she mets the sons of Papa Jack, Kasper and Emil, both are the toymakers. She gets involved in love, battle of ownership of emporium and even darkness of World War as well.As you see, many people really loves this book, and I also immersed to the story of half way through. It's such a lovely and heartwarming story in which has full of many sort of love, courage and curious magical toys. I like the description of the attractive toys, they are very fun to imagine them and make me want to get ones. I was gripped by the passion and each distinctive skills of toymakers to create the fantastic toys. I also enjoyed the young characters how they cope with the birth. I could feel the love, agitation and happiness in the corse of the process.When the story gets to the darkness, I like some part but I found myself not attached any more. The characters fall apart and they become different. I wanted to know more about the feelings of the characters because I felt, in some part, Cathy just follows to what other people do ,even it's very confusing sort of things, without any her opinion and feeling. It took me long to finish this book, though the ending is beautiful that what I wanted to read. It's such a likable story and I really like the way of the writing. I gave 3.8 stars to this bookThank you Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing via NetGalley for an advance reading of this book
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  • Michael Cayley
    January 1, 1970
    This book is absolutely enchanting, moving, and beautifully written.Pregnant teenager Cathy runs away from home in 1907 rather than go to an institution where she would have to give up her baby. Responding to an advertisement for shop staff, she goes to the Emprium in central London, a toyshop open to customers only between the first and last frosts of winter. It is owned by Papa Jack, whose two sons, Emil and Kaspar, vie with each other in their efforts to create new toys during the rest of the This book is absolutely enchanting, moving, and beautifully written.Pregnant teenager Cathy runs away from home in 1907 rather than go to an institution where she would have to give up her baby. Responding to an advertisement for shop staff, she goes to the Emprium in central London, a toyshop open to customers only between the first and last frosts of winter. It is owned by Papa Jack, whose two sons, Emil and Kaspar, vie with each other in their efforts to create new toys during the rest of the year and to become the one who will inherit the place. The Emporium itself seems small and is set in an alley, but inside is cavernous, and the toys have magical properties. It is a place of wonder and of creations that amaze and delight - and of war waged through toys.But the outside world breaks in. In Papa Jack’s past is a period of appalling suffering. There are the horrors of the First World War in which Kaspar serves heroically and from which he returns very damaged. The rivalry between the two brothers become more acute, and the Emporium moves into a sinister phase.To reveal much more of the plot would spoil the book for new readers. Suffice it to say that the book carries the tale forward to 1953, through the Blitz and through changing fortunes.The book held me enthralled throughout. It is often enchanting, without being twee - it is too anchored in the sometimes harsh realities of life to be twee. At times it is heart-wrenching and brought tears to my eyes. It may be set largely in a toyshop, but it is very much a book for adults. This is magical realism at its best.With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me have an ARC.
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  • Orláith
    January 1, 1970
    When I first requested this book on NetGalley I honestly wasn’t sure what I would think as this isn’t my “usual” kind of book. Now that I’ve finished it I cannot express how glad I am that I took a chance!The Toymakers is probably going to stay on my list of favourite reads for a long time to come. Without giving too much away, it has quite the mix of genres that all seamlessly work together. It is a coming of age story set against a backdrop of family drama and war. It is a fantastical tale of When I first requested this book on NetGalley I honestly wasn’t sure what I would think as this isn’t my “usual” kind of book. Now that I’ve finished it I cannot express how glad I am that I took a chance!The Toymakers is probably going to stay on my list of favourite reads for a long time to come. Without giving too much away, it has quite the mix of genres that all seamlessly work together. It is a coming of age story set against a backdrop of family drama and war. It is a fantastical tale of childhood dreams and wonder, and a tale of heartbreak and loss.After finishing the last page I was emotionally broken, I was elated and it has been a long time since any book has affected me so.If you are considering pre-ordering a copy of The Toymakers, don’t hesitate. Do it today.Many thanks to NetGalley UK and to Ebury Publishing for providing me with an ebook copy of The Toymakers.
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  • Jantine Kampes
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy through Netgalley, in return for an honest review.In this book we learn to know and love the Godman-family and their emporium of toys. Wonderful, magical toys, and a whole world where you can really imagine yourself a child. A place to hide and feel safe, just the place Cathy needs when she runs from her family, as a soon to be teen-mom.While the magic keeps seeping through, this book also tells of hardships and difficulties, especially when people stop understanding each I received a free copy through Netgalley, in return for an honest review.In this book we learn to know and love the Godman-family and their emporium of toys. Wonderful, magical toys, and a whole world where you can really imagine yourself a child. A place to hide and feel safe, just the place Cathy needs when she runs from her family, as a soon to be teen-mom.While the magic keeps seeping through, this book also tells of hardships and difficulties, especially when people stop understanding each other. It tells about the magic there is to be found in love, family and imagination.When I was reading it, it felt like the world of the Emporium enfolded itself around me. I was soaked in the imagination myself, and pulled into a world bigger than my living room. I felt the plushy bouncy feeling of Sirius the felt dog playing with me, the coldness of the world outside and the contrast with the core being of the emporium. It was simply magnificent!
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  • Amy Hurrell
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely magnificent! This delightful story will be a staff and customer favourite for certain, taking pride of place on the shelves beside other magical works of fiction like The Night Circus, and Jonathon Strange and Mister Norrell.
  • Cathy Fogg
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book! It felt so magical - the characters were wonderful and the story kept me hooked all the way through. It covered everything from love, hope, friendship and I could not put this down! Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and Robert Dinsdale for the ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Eloise - BookPolar
    January 1, 1970
    All of the feels.I laughed. I cried. Arghhh. What a special special book.
  • Jemima Pett
    January 1, 1970
    Awe-inspiring tale of two brothers and a woman who sees their rivalry. With toys, magic and mystery of a different kind. Epic in its conception, beautifully delivered. Full review to follow.
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