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 is an emotionally resonant tale with it’s own magical heart and is extraordinarily compelling throughout.
There is a beautiful blend of the magical and the hugely realistic in this addictive clever story – a story about love, family, war and the absolute magic of toys. It is layered and enticing, bringing a lot of thought provoking themes to the surface. Difficult to describe without giving too much away but it is very different, intelligently woven and indeed get’s quite dark in places, with an evocative sense of time and place even if that time works somewhat differently…
I was engaged by Cathy, by the two brothers with their own version of war and with Jack and his magical toys. It is one of those books that you don’t realise you are devouring until you turn the last page, the writing is immersive and beautifully descriptive, evoking childhood in the underneath of it all and bringing a melancholy sense of nostalgia.
Very different to anything I’ve read lately which particularly made it stand out for me, I enjoyed it very much and read it over the course of a single day.