This review is from: The Toymaker (Paperback)
With it vaguely Mittleuropean, and unspecified 19th century setting, 'The Toymaker' is a dark adventure, a gothic yarn, that comes across like a Hammer Horror for young people. Featuring a gallery of grotesques, most notably a sadistic dwarf that refuses to die and a marionette that can distinguish truth from lies, a young boy Mathias is pursued by the sinister Dr Leiter after his grandfather is murdered in the circus where he worked as a conjuror. But what is the secret on the piece of paper bequeathed to him? Teaming up with a teenage girl Katta, a maid at a nearby tavern, rescued by a smuggler Koenig, who may or may not be on their side and aided by the gypsy- like youth Stefan who once harmed the girl, and you have the makings of a plot that is chock full of revenge motifs and bloody set pieces. Indeed, it's the kind of book that only someone called Jeremy de Quidt could have come up with.
Cracking entertainment for anyone of 12 upwards and although there is a certain amount of undisguised glee in the violence, it's undeniably great fun that hints at a possible sequel but it also has the courage to give a rather downbeat ending.
A couple of minor quibbles: Katta's working class background is signified by her speech occasionally lapsing into a sort of Cockney-ese vernacular which seems a tad unnecessary, and the illustrations that are scattered throughout are at best workmanlike rather than inspired. That aside, go play with the toys!