The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie

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.

About the Book

Publisher: Flame Tree Press  |  Release Date: October 6, 2018  |  Pages: 240
Genre: Adult, Horror  |  Format: eARC  |  Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Jack didn’t know what to call the nameless, skeletal creature that slunk into her house in the dead of night, stealing the very things she loved the most. So she named him The Toy Thief… There’s something in Jack’s past that she doesn’t want to face, an evil presence that forever changed the trajectory of her family. It all began when The Toy Thief appeared, a being drawn by goodness and innocence, eager to feed on everything Jack holds dear. What began as a mystery spirals out of control when her brother, Andy, is taken away in the night, and Jack must venture into the dark place where the toys go to get him back. But even if she finds him, will he ever be the same?

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My Review

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.

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

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 were 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 interested in, I definitely pick it up!

Content warnings: 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. 

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

7 Comments

  1. betweenfoldedpages

    October 3, 2018 at 10:14 AM

    Aww! I’m disappointed that it’s not as good as I thought. The fat shaming really puts a downer on my excitement to read it ☹️

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 3, 2018 at 8:28 PM

      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!

  2. ERK

    October 3, 2018 at 11:46 AM

    Ooh! I have this book on my TBR too! The cover was what drove me to request it because it looked creepy af! I am hoping to get to it this month

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 3, 2018 at 8:29 PM

      The cover is CREEPY AF! I hope you enjoy this one!!!

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    November 1, 2018 at 9:35 AM

    […] * The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie: 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. This was another case of right book, wrong reader. [Full ARC Review] […]

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