About the book
Do you remember when you believed in magic?
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!
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…
Published by Del Ray
A very original, magical and dark story!! And a gorgeous cover!! I started off reading this completely lost in a magical world in Papa Jacks’ Emporium full of the most wonderful toys – toy soldiers that fight their own battles, instant trees and animals who appear that they are alive – but behind the toys is a family fighting their own battles, and a girl who is running away.
Cathy is a young girl who is pregnant and has brought shame on her family so they are ready to send her away, but she takes matters into her own hands and boards the train from Leigh On Sea to London where she goes for a job interview at the Emporium – it has a way of taking in waifs and strays so she is the perfect employee for them. You just have to not stop remembering what it is like to be a child and see the magic in everything. She loves her new life there and is taken to the heart of the family very quickly.
Brothers Emil and Kaspar both work for their father at the Emporium and are always trying to outdo one another with creating the most wonderful new toy. But Kaspar soon has to go off to War while Emil stays behind to help run the business and life soon takes a darker twist for them all.
I loved the magical elements to this story and wasn’t really prepared for the darker sides to the story which did feel a little out of place at times as they were quite serious issues. Seeing someone dealing with PTSD – as we now know it – was a little heartbreaking to read and the effect it had on those around him. Because of this I’m finding this book difficult to sum up adequately as it often felt like 2 separate stories that shouldn’t really have worked together – but for the most part it does work and adds a different element to the reading experience you have with this book. And maybe that was the point! On one hand you have a true fantastical element in the Emporium and all it stands for and how it wants to see the use of toys as a wondrous thing, and that is up against the harshness and brutality of the real world – somewhere we all like to escape from every now and then.
The characters were all well put together in their development and it was interesting to see they dynamic between them all, especially towards the end.
I did enjoy reading this overall but would have loved more of the magical elements for more of an escapist read!
Would love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read this book!