Author: Robert Dinsdale
Publisher: Ebury Digital
Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
Blurb (as on Goodreads):
It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.
For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…
The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!
Imagine a world where everything has a mind of its own, where toys can walk, talk, grow and even fight, a place where magic is a matter of perspective and belief. Welcome to The Emporium, a toy store in London that opens every year only during winters. A store loved by all and a place with its own share of secrets and wonders.
The story revolves around Papa Jack, Emil, and Kasper- the family who own The Emporium. In this beautiful, magical place enters Cathy. Cathy has run away from her family because her family wasn’t ready to accept her child. As Cathy starts working, she managed to draw a lot of attention, especially from the brothers- Emil and Kasper. As the story progresses, we see a silent war between the brothers. A war that is both for the inheritance of the Emporium and the attention of Cathy. As the story continues, we are given a glimpse of the real world, the wars being fought and how it affects the body and the soul. The story spans between 1907 and 1953- the times when two great world wars have been fought, countless lives lost, families destroyed. The plot darkens further and talks about how The Emporium and it’s occupants are affected, how scared they are and the consequences they had to face as a result of the war.
The book is touching in a multitude of ways. There’s innocent love that Kasper and Emil have for Cathy, the love for one’s child, and the love for one’s legacy. This story is all about that fact that the great war hasn’t left anyone untouched.
The writing is highly imaginative. The world that has been created is enchanting and its so easy to forget the world and drift into the other world the author has created. The characters are vulnerable, hence making them extremely relatable. The situations, no matter how dark, was written flawlessly. The book requires a bit of patience because there are places where I felt lost.
It’s a mixture of Magical Realism and Historical Fiction and the only way to get through this book is to let the story flow through and let it cast its magic. This book is everything life is- full of possibilities yet in jeopardy.
Do you believe in Magic?