Quick Review: The Thief of Broken Toys (2010)

Author: Tim Lebbon

Available at AMAZON
ISBN-10: 0981297897
ISBN-13: 978-0981297897

When a father loses his son and his wife leaves him, he cannot tear himselfaway from the small fishing village where the boy’s memories reside. They’re all he has left. Thinking that his life is all but over, he takes to wandering the cliffs, carrying broken things that he always promised his son he would fix, but never did. They’re a sign of his failure, and they keep little Toby close. And then he meets the thief of broken toys, and everything begins to change…

I must confess, I was not very familiar with the work of Tim Lebbon before this volume hit the door mat. A prize involving a competition with The Last Storm and a Tarantula (I might tell you more when I review Storm) I had no real idea what to expect, but the cover blurb is intriguing so I got on with reading it as soon as I could.

At 150 pages, it didn’t take long.

Thief follows Ray about a year after his son, Toby died. His marriage has collapsed and he is living a routine, almost meaningless life in the little fishing village where the memories or Toby push him to the brink of suicide.

A chance meeting with the Thief of Broken Toys leads to fixed toys and a “mending” of Ray as he starts to view his memories from a different perspective; a celebration of Toby’s life, rather than a litany of regret. Life changes for Ray and he sees light at the end of the tunnel, but the Thief has his own agenda and things don’t quite go according to plan.

Thief explores the grief and guilt that Ray feels, powerless to prevent Toby’s death or stop his marriage breaking up and how the memories of Toby are almost too painful to bear. His guilt is compounded by the box of broken toys he finds under Toby’s bed, a stark reminder of dozens of broken promises that further depress Ray and make him question whether he was a good father.

This short story from Tim Lebbon is a heartfelt exploration of the power of loss, grief and memory. In what might feel like a slight story, Tim manages to pack in a great deal of emotion and thought about what we might do to keep memories alive and remember our loved ones. What would we sacrifice to have them back and how to do we move on without them? Heartbreaking and yet beautiful, this is powerful stuff and, as a writer myself, falls easily into that category of “books I wish I had written”…..

I will definitely be back for more Lebbon!

TIM LEBBON is a New York Times-bestselling writer from South Wales. He’s had twenty novels published to date, including The IslandThe Map of Moments (with Christopher Golden), Bar NoneFallenHellboy: The Fire WolvesDusk, and Berserk, as well as scores of novellas and short stories. He has won four British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award, and a Scribe Award, and has been a finalist for the International Horror Guild and World Fantasy Awards. In 2011, his book Thief of Broken Toys (ChiZine Publications) was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in the novella category. He has also been a judge for the World Fantasy Award.

In 2004, Fangoria named him “one of the thirteen rising talents who promise to keep us terrified for the next twenty-five years.” Only nineteen years left to go . . . better get busy.

Forthcoming books include The Secret Journeys of Jack London for HarperCollins (coauthored with Christopher Golden), Echo City for Bantam in the US and Orbit in the UK, Coldbrook for Corsair in the UK, 30 Days of Night: Fear of the Dark for Pocket Books, the massive short story collections Last Exit for the Lost from Cemetery Dance and Ghosts and Bleeding Things from PS Publishing, as well as several other projects not yet announced. He has written several screenplays, and is currently developing two TV series with a British TV company. Several of his novels and novellas are currently in development for screen in the USA and UK, and he is working on new novels and screenplays.Find out more about Tim at his website: http://www.timlebbon.net.

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