The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie

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“Brothers and sisters are like that, the best and worst of relationships, the entire world rolled into one.”

Have you ever read a book that was both everything you wanted and everything you didn’t at the same time? Unfortunately, that was my experience reading The Toy Thief: I really enjoyed the main storyline but I didn’t enjoy the main character or the narrative style.

The book is written in first person and is narrated in such a way that feels like you are listening to someone try to tell a story – it is completely stream of consciousness and she jumps around her life, weaving a tale that largely paints her as a horrible and unlikable character, which is in stark contrast with her as a child. The way Adult Jack talks about herself gave me vapid TifAni from Luckiest Girl Alive flashbacks, which is one of my least favorite reads. I found myself not really enjoying the book whenever we were in any time other than that summer when she was nine years old.

As far as horror goes, the central story and backstory of the Toy Thief was creepy and interesting. If the book had been told in the present tense and skipped the weird time jumps and fat shaming of a blind date, I would have thoroughly enjoyed this book. The Toy Thief is really about Jack growing up, and I read the Toy Thief as a metaphor for lost innocence. I would have liked to see the Sallie/doll side story resolved a bit; while not integral to the story overall, it felt as if something bigger was alluded to but was largely left unexplored.

Overall, I thought The Toy Thief was a fast paced horror read with many layers: it isn’t just about the horrors of the rat-like monster that has come into their home but also about the horrors of losing oneself, of growing up, and of loss. My enjoyment of the book was somewhat hampered by the adult persona of Jack and I did personally struggle with the stream of consciousness “confessional” narrative style, but if this book sounds like something you would be interesting in, I definitely pick it up!

cw: animal death, bullying, death, body horror, loss of a loved one, suicide

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me an electronic advanced reader copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Quotations taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon final publication. The Toy Thief will be released on October 6, 2018.


You can find information about my rating criteria here.


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Hi! I’m Kaleena: book lover, runner, wanderer, and philanthropist. Life is an adventurous gift: through the outdoors and books. I run Reader Voracious Blog, where I post spoiler-free book reviews of science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, and mystery & thriller.

7 thoughts on “The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie

    1. I was really bummed about this book, but hopefully it was just a case of right book wrong reader. I struggle with unlikeable characters to this extreme (especially when there’s no character growth), but really enjoyed the horror part of the story!

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