The Toy Thief
D. W. Gillespie
Flame Tree Press
“As a girl, Jack lives with her father and brother after her mother passed away during childbirth. Her father is a well-meaning construction worker who treats her more like a roommate, while her brother, Andy, is an introverted loner prone to violent outbursts, a virtual mirror to his sister who is outspoken to an extreme. The story opens on a sleepover with nine year old Jack and her close friend. While putting on a pretend show, the two girls leave a video camera running, and when Jack replays the tape the next day, she sees her friend’s toy being snatched off the end table and out the back door by a swift, nearly unseen hand. Excited and bewildered, she tries to show the tape to her thirteen year old brother, Andy who is still furious about the spat he and Jack got into the night before. Without another word, he smashes the tape of the intruder. That night, determined to catch the creature she now calls The Toy Thief, Jack sets up a series of traps, all of which fail miserably. Once she awakens in the middle of the night, she finds her friend’s toy has returned, brought back by The Toy Thief, an impossibly tall and rat-like creature with glassy eyes. Just then, Andy steps out of his room, and as The Thief flees in a panic, Andy realizes his sister is telling the truth. The two of them are able to surmise that The Thief most likely travels through a tangled section of woods called The Trails, and they go out in search of it. After returning unsuccessful, Jack awakes the next morning to find Andy missing from his bedroom. As her father informs the police, Jack knows it’s up to her to find him. Jack must venture into the dark place WHERE TOYS GO to get him back. But even if she finds him, will he ever be the same?”
It’s the defining moments in our lives that what make us who we are. They shape us, mould us and manipulate us into the person we are today. A lot of those moments happen during childhood, during the period of our lives that we are most malleable, most impressionable, and most innocent.
I particularly liked the format of this book, the storytelling in the shape of a woman recalling a traumatic event from her childhood. One that will have shaped her somewhat, and made her the person she is today. It read really well, flitting between the past and the present. You could have almost been sat across a table in a greasy spoon from her, listening to Jack’s dark tale.
It was more than a story about a lurking monster; it was about family, and the bonds that hold us together as well as drive us apart. The sibling relationship between Jack and Andy was touching, how it ended was heartbreakingly sweet I felt. The family unit was the main focus of the book from my perspective. The challenges of a widowed father, raising two children after his wife has died during childbirth, and the difficult relationship between brother and sister that ensued. Andy had known his mother, Jack had not. That difficult resentment, when you love someone but you struggle to get past something that you know deep down wasn’t their fault. That’s the relationship between Jack and Andy, turbulent and angry, but at the same time a deep loving bond. It was really well thought out and written I felt. I had a real empathy for the whole family.
The Toy Thief itself, the monster, is deliciously creepy in so many wonderful ways. The perfect manifestation of a childhood nightmare, it’s the monster coming to take your most precious toys. It was a darkly creepy creature, hiding in the shadows, just waiting for its moment to strike. I really loved it. It’s that monster under the bed scenario, or in your closet maybe. It’s that underlying fear that something is watching, waiting, and you are afraid to fall asleep in case it gets you in the night. I appreciated the hidden depths too; it was a great touch that made it an even more frightening experience.
This is a great read that plays on our most innocent fears. It hits home in many ways, both good and bad. This is a wonderful scary story, definitely worth a read.
Available for Pre-order from Amazon, The Toy Thief hits the bookshelves 18th October 2018. Check it out.
4/5 – very very creepy.
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)