I predominately read books for sheer escapist pleasure. I like a book to bring a big cheesy grin to my face. I'm a pulp fan, yes I said it. I know it's a four letter word to some folk. However every now and then I prefer something with a bit more substance to it. Tim Lebbon is one of those authors, since I first discovered him in 1997 with his debut the horror novel Mesmer. Ever since then Tim has proved to be one hell of an author, no matter what genre he works in horror, fantasy, or short story, he brings a new perspective to the genre. He also manages to produce something more than just a genre novel. It could be said that he is the UK's version of Joe R Lansdale, high praise indeed, but something that I feel is worthy praise.
In his latest offering from Chizine publications The Thief of Broken Toys, he tackles the themes of loss depression, and regret. Ray has lost his son, and soon after his wife leaves him. Living in a small fishing village, the kind where everyone know everyone, all he has left are the memories of his dead son. He starts to wander along the windswept cliffs around his home where he meets the thief of broken toys, who can fix all of his son's broken toys. Toys that ray had always promised his son he would fix, but never got round to doing so.
This is a short novel clocking at 146 pages, but it is 146 pages of sheer awe inspiring writing. I have never read a book that affected me in such profound ways. I found this a difficult read emotionally being a father, so I don't know how easy this was for Tim to write. You can feel the ray's pain and despair on every page of the book. I just wanted to find ray and give him a big hug. This is not a genre novel this is great piece of English literature, which in a perfect world would be on every reading list in every English class in the country. I was brought to tears throughout this book; gut wrenching is not the word. I don't really want to say too much about the plot of the story, suffice to say that if you to have a box of broken toys, you'll be doing everything to fix them after reading this.
I don't know much about Chizine publications, this is the first book by them that I have purchased. If Thief of broken toys is typical of their production standards then they have got a new customer, this is a beautifully produced book, and at a cover price of $10, (I got for £6 at a well known online retailer) is well worth it. In this day in age where many small press publishers are more concerned with how a book looks and its collector's value, than actually having someone read what's inside, it's a pleasure to have a well put together book with a great great story inside.