Fiction Book Reviews

Fantasy | The Toymakers | Robert Dinsdale

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The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale is the best story I’ve read this year so far.  It is magical, it is bewitching, it is dark with plenty of shadows … and you really do step into another world once you enter the doors of The Emporium.

The Toymakers Robert Dinsdale

Format: Kindle Edition

File Size: 1432 KB

Print Length: 480 pages

Publisher: Ebury Digital (8 Feb. 2018)

Language: English


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…

A dark enchanting, spectacularly imaginative novel perfect for fans of Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus


Where to start?  There are so many layers to this story.  Fairy tales and fables.  Magic and the mundane.  Light and shadows. Sibling rivalry (to its extreme!).  Birth and death.  PTSD and mental health.  Charity and kindness.  And at the heart of it, Papa Jack and his Emporium.

The Toymakers will take you back to your childhood, to the sights and sounds and smells, evoking memories and comfort and safety.  To a time of innocence and wonder.  Papa Jack’s experiences taught him the truth which we get to see when he ‘shows’ Cathy Wray (I felt it keenly at the time but it’s fading now which makes me feel sad) and his sons, Kaspar and Emil need to understand this truth before they can become the magicians they have the power to be.  In the darkest and most brutal time is when you find the brightest light …

Much of the story is set in The Emporium and I would love to see this on a movie screen!  It opens at first frost each year and then closes when the first snowdrop flowers.  It is magical with its moving aisles and fantastical toys both on the shelves, on the floor and in the air.  The workshops are awesome with their mundane materials and a thrumming of energy.  Aisles and counters throng with parents and their children, that is until WWI comes and changes much more than a loss of customers to The Emporium.

There is so much I want to talk about but no spoilers.  It’s really hard not to tell you about one of the key parts of the story.  It’s a fascinating concept and felt real.  And at the end when we find out … mind blowing!

The Emporium is a time out of time, with worlds within worlds and The Toymakers is an experience I won’t be forgetting for a very long time.  Outstanding.

This is the first book I’ve read by Robert Dinsdale but won’t be the last!

Connect with Robert Dinsdale


Twitter @Robert_Dinsdale

I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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