The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
The Toymakers is filled with history. There is magic, there is tragedy and grief, there is finding a home and, eventually, everlasting love. There is also a devastating secret spanning some years but redemption at the end of it.
It all starts in London, before The Great War, in Papa Jack’s toy emporium tucked away at the end of a lane. Papa Jack is a refuge from another country, a master carpenter who has the gift of imbuing toys with real magic. His shop sells self-propelling toy soldiers (a best seller with small boys), flying pegasi and toy boxes which have TARDIS interiors.
Run with the help of his two sons, both of whom are toymakers too, they take in young Cathy who has run away from home, burdened with her own secret.
This novel will appeal to those readers who loved The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman and London Falling by Paul Cornell. The author has written other unrelated novels but the style of writing in The Toymakers is a complete departure from his prior books.
This novel is full of whimsy, yet grounded in the utterly black reality of post WWI, and the broken men who returned from the Belgian battlefields. Each character is beautifully molded, ensuring the reader follows their travails right to the last page.