The Toymaker by Jeremy de Quidt

Rating 9.0/10
An excellent book, one of very few that I wish were longer.

What good is a toy that will wind down? What if you could put a heart in one? A real heart. One that beat and beat and didn't stop. What couldn't you do if you could make a toy like that? From the moment Mathias becomes the owner of a mysterious piece of paper, he is in terrible danger. Entangled in devious plots and pursued by the sinister Doctor Leiter and his devilish toys, Mathias finds himself on a quest to uncover a deadly secret.

The Toymaker has David Fickling Books written on its spine. This is the literary equivalent of a Royal Warrant of Appointment, a sign of quality that reassures the prospective buyer that they are not making a mistake in parting with their hard-earned cash. I have yet to read a poor David Fickling book and they have all been of the very highest standard.

Jeremy de Quidt’s dark and brooding debut is no exception.

The Toymaker is wonderfully atmospheric, with a decidedly gothic feel, and an almost tangible sense of mystery and suspense. The locations and settings are imaginative and the characters are believable and deserving of empathy. Be warned though, this is not your usual run-of-the-mill fantasy book for older children. Torture, death, violence and hardship are all to be found within its covers.

The narrative progresses at a fair rate of knots and is written simply, yet with power. There has always been something sinister about dolls that are too lifelike – they really are the stuff of children’s nightmares - and de Quidt cleverly plays on this. A quick glance at The Toymaker on Amazon.co.uk shows that de Quidt and the illustrator Gary Blythe both have their names listed - this is fully deserved as Blythe’s illustrations are uniformly brilliant, amongst the best I have seen in any fantasy book.

There are some books that you can read in a single day and this is one of them. The pages simply fly by and there is just the right amount of tense and scary moments to keep the reader enthralled.

The Toymaker is an excellent book, one of very few that I wish were longer, and the book’s ending is as chilling as it is unexpected. A superb debut in which everything fits together like a jigsaw.

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