The Toy Thief
October 6, 2018
Flame Tree Press
reviewed by Brian James Lewis
Being a writer is a tough job that one does almost an obligation to the rest of the world. These stories need to be told and some of us are marked for that vocation. For those writers, it’s not all about the money, glamour, or movie adaptations. Sure, we’d all like to be millionaires with multiple homes and all that jazz. But for writers like D.W. Gillespie it’s about feeding the fire, following the trail, and making things happen. The Toy Thief is an intricate labor of love. A twisted labyrinth with dark surprises around every corner. Some are gifts and some are terrors, but I guarantee that you’ll never feel bored or lonely while reading this amazing new release from Flame Tree Press!
The story is told to us by Jack, who was a young girl when the Toy Thief shattered the tenuous structure that her family balanced upon. It is a single parent family that was brought to that state by a blessed event that turned out horribly. This is a burden that Jack bears at some times and rejects others. Her brother Andy seems to be constantly seething about it, but appearances can be deceiving. Their father is a decent guy doing the best he can to hold everything together. These are regular, working-class people who take life as it comes.
Jack has a friend named Sallie who comes from a rich family, but enjoys the freedom of sleeping over at a house where the kids aren’t under strict adult supervision. It is possible that the girls would have eventually parted ways, but The Toy Thief makes sure of it when he steals Sallie’s doll. Not only that, but Jack sees him doing it! Trouble is, no adult is going to believe in the strange, skeletal creature that walks on ceilings. So Jack is stuck with trying to find her own solution to the problem. A little 9 year old girl isn’t much of a threat to something so huge and powerful, but when her brother Andy joins in, they might just have a chance.
When they do take the offensive approach, it seems uncertain how successful they’ve been. But then Andy disappears and Jack knows that he didn’t just wander off on his own. Regardless of his violent record and official title of juvenile delinquent, Jack doesn’t see him that way. He’s her smart and calculating older brother, who often seems like he’s merely an observer to his own behavior. Things just kind of happen when he’s around. When the police and even their dad have no idea how to find Andy, Jack is pretty damn sure she knows exactly where he is. But can she find The Toy Thief’s lair and save her brother without becoming a casualty in the process?
This is a powerful, Five Star read that will keep you reading long past your bedtime! The complexity keeps readers on their toes the whole way through and when you reach the end, there’s a good chance that you might cry. Not about some happy, sappy family that finally figures out that they love each other, either. No, you will feel the pain Jack bears in her heart for her father and her brother. Why did things have to go the way they did? Are they special or just a normal, screwed up family in an age when doctors prescribe Ritalin to hyperactive children as if they were Sweet Tarts? Is The Toy Thief a who or a what?
D.W. Gillespie’s writing is amazing in the way it pulls us in close, right into the center of things. He never sugar coats or shies away from difficult things and that is exactly as it should be. People need to come to grips with the difficulties of being human again. No electronics or smoke and mirrors here. The Toy Thief is bloody and frightening. It tackles big issues. It’s a cave on fire and you need to get a copy now to see just what I’m talking about! Something just slid my sliding glass door open and I need to check on it…Run! Save yourselves by going to www.flametreepress.com and purchasing The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie today! Also available from Amazon.com or your favorite bookseller. Ow! It burns!