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Literature / The Toymaker

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What good is a toy that will wind down? What if you could give a toy a heart? A real heart. One that beat and beat and didn't stop. What couldn't you do if you could make a toy like that?

The Toymaker is a very dark children's novel written by Jeremy de Quidt.

From the moment that the circus boy, Mathias, takes a small roll of paper from the dying conjuror, his fate is sealed. For on it is the key to a terrifying secret, and there are those who would kill him rather than have it told.


Pursued by the sinister Dr. Leiter with his exquisite doll and malevolent dwarf, preyed on by the circus master and his vicious painted wife, Mathias is drawn into a relentless nightmare. A nightmare that will lead him to the Toymaker, and to a knife as cruel as frost.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Katta tends to leap into action no matter the cost to herself and others, which ends up getting her captured and made into the Duchess.
  • Antagonist Title: The Toymaker is one of the main villains of the book, and is the titular character.
  • Anti-Hero: Katta is a tough girl with no mercy for those that cross her, and is gung-ho about getting into troublesome situations.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Dr. Leiter and the Toymaker are the main villains of the story, with Leiter having political schemes while the Toymaker enacts his operations.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: Mathias is saved and Leiter's crimes have been exposed, but the Toymaker and Valtar escape and Katta has been converted into clockwork and goes mad.
  • Eye Scream: Katta tries to blind a boy who threw a stone at her years ago.
  • Freak Out: Katta goes mad once she's made into the Duchess.
  • Heart Trauma: The Toymaker used sparrows' hearts in his experiments. Then he moved onto human hearts.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Katta is treated this way in the finale when she's forcibly converted into the Duchess.
  • Implacable Man: Valter the clockwork dwarf is unstoppable by conventional means. Justified as he's not human.
  • Karma Houdini: The Toymaker gets away at the end, and it's implied he and Valter are still out there to perform cruel experiments.
  • Kill and Replace: This happened to the Duke, who was killed and replaced with a clockwork double.
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  • Pinball Protagonist: Mathias spends much of the book bouncing from character to character and place to place, with little agency of his own.
  • Robotic Reveal: The Duke is made of clockwork; the real one has been dead for years.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Mathias spends much of the story being pulled around by other characters and only does one thing of importance in the whole book.


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