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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.

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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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