Review from Hunstanworth Village Hall Book Group:
'Are you lost? Are you afraid? Are you a child at heart?' So begins the advert for a post at the Toy Emporium run by Papa Jack and his two sons Emil and Kaspar Godman. Cathy Wray, 15 years old and pregnant, seizes on the hope she finds in this advert and runs away from home to begin a new life.
With its setting in mainly pre WWI London - 'The Toymakers' is a mystical magical story about toys, secrets and family ties.
HVHBG review: With the Narnia like entrance to the Emporium, when it's always frosty or snowing, this story was a great read for long wintry evenings.
'The Toymakers' provoked a great deal of discussion and whilst a couple of members found the level of description distracted from the story, others felt it was the perfect amount to immerse themselves in the period and the 'believable' world of magic and toys. Although we felt this book was very child friendly, and would generally recommend it to 12yrs + (as well as adults) the story is not all whimsical as there is a dark side to the story (the horrors of war) which provides a good balance to the sweetness and light.
As mentioned comparison came up to the Narnia stories, as well as Peter Pan, with Cathy as the Wendy character and the Lost Boys (Emil and Kaspar) in Neverland (The Emporium).
There was also some curiosity as to whether there was an intentional allegorical device being used to present Papa Jack as a Godlike figure; a creator of a world of magic and toys, who always saw the goodness in people...'remember that every adult was a child once'.
Rating: Overall 'The Toymakers' rated very, very highly and scores averaged 4 to 4.5 out of 5. A couple of readers enjoyed it immensely (scoring 4.75 and 6 (!) out of 5, saying that it is destined to be a regularly read classic!