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The Thief of Broken Toys

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  207 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
British Fantasy Society Award Finalist (2011)

When a father loses his son and his wife leaves him, he cannot tear himself away from the small fishing village where the boy’s memories reside. 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 failu
ebook, 149 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by ChiZine (first published 2010)
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William M.
May 10, 2012 William M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, fantasy, drama
Tim Lebbon, author of numerous horror and fantasy books, merges his talents into a dark adult fairytale. The Thief of Broken Toys is a painful exploration into the loss of a child and the aftermath of guilt that the parents are left feeling. For the most part, it was beautifully crafted and balanced with just enough hope to keep the main character afloat. Never overly sentimental and always honest, this story was a touching but sad novella that ranks up near the top of Lebbon’s best work.

The per
Nicholas Kaufmann
I was loving this spooky, haunting novella right up until the end. It was beautiful, lyrical, and melancholy, but also about hope and remembrance and moving past your grief. Lebbon skillfully maneuvers the reader through Ray's stages of grief as he inches toward coming to terms with the new reality of his life. But then that ending happens. I couldn't get into it. It's too abrupt and weirdly unforgiving for a story that's all about forgiving yourself. It's unfair to both the characters and the r ...more
Ginger Nuts
Jun 15, 2010 Ginger Nuts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 stor ...more
Colin Leslie
Feb 16, 2011 Colin Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always look forward to a new Tim Lebbon novella. That's not to dismiss his many excellent novels (e.g. Bar None, Fallen, The Island) nor his extensive short story back catalogue many of which have now been collected together in Last Exit For the Lost (review soon). No, it's just that Tim Lebbon novellas are usually something very special. The author himself has acknowledged that he feels the novella is the perfect length for horror. Large enough to allow a full exploration of the characters bu ...more
Lucas Garner
I really wanted to like this story. The concept is good, but I think the problem of the story arises with the length. It is clear that this story was a short story that ran too long. So instead of cutting out the unnecessary plot points, Lebbon decides to turn the story into a novella. The story starts out fine and Lebbon's language and descriptions are quite captivating. But when the town is described to us for the fifth time, and the same cliff looking over the sea is described for the tenth t ...more
Wayne Simmons
Mar 11, 2012 Wayne Simmons rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Thief of Broken Toys is a novella that charts the journey of central character, Ray as he tries to come to terms with the grief of losing a child. The setting is a small, costal village in Wales with its rural backdrop providing a suitably minimalist canvas to paint this heart-breaking yet simple tale upon. Most of the focus remains on Ray and his relationship with his deceased child, Toby, and estranged wife, Elizabeth. Ray still lives alone in the family home, while Elizabeth finds comfort ...more
Sep 09, 2011 Doskoi_panda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
This was really an odd little book, and one I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The tale centers around Ray, who lives in a fishing village in Cornwall and has been grieving for his young son who died a year before. Ray and his wife are estranged (she's sleeping with his former best friend to combat her own grief; Ray reminds her too much of their dead child) and he is the one who remained in their house, with all of their son's toys and clothes and the ghosts that memories can bring. He meets a ...more
Richard Wright
Jul 10, 2010 Richard Wright rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
A quiet, affecting mood piece, this novella (beautifully produced by Chizine Publications) deals with the infectious horror of loss. Set in a small coastal village, so well invoked that it becomes a character in its own right, the story follows Ray's struggle to come to terms with the death of his son. It's about memory, and pain, and it's beautifully done. While there's horror here, of the most personal and intimate variety, there's also a strange sense of redemption, at least until the shatter ...more
Andi Newton
Sep 01, 2011 Andi Newton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing book with a heartbreaking tale of a father's loss and an unexpected, creepy twist at the end. Only four stars because I would have liked to know more about who the old man was and because the book ended just as the conflict really started. But, then, it's that kind of horror story, so it does work.
Mar 31, 2012 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, novella
An excellent novella that ends rather abruptly and without much explanation.
MB Taylor
Jul 05, 2011 MB Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading The Thief of Broken Toys this afternoon. It’s a short novel or a long novella packaged as a separate book (ISFDB calls it a Chapterbook). It’s also very good. As it’s a horror story I’m not quite sure I can say I enjoyed it, but I did find it mesmerizing.

The Thief of Broken Toys is interestingly told. Sometimes the story is a third person narrative; sometimes it’s first person, by a person (being?) close to, but not in the story; and sometimes the narrator even addresses the c
Aug 27, 2011 Geoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an emotional tale of despair and hope - where the loss of a child creates the despair, and a mysterious man who fixes toys brings hope. This was a beautifully dark tale that reminded me a lot of another emotional dark tale by Lebbon called the Reach of Children. Both stories use a little supernatural and grief stricken people who have lost members of their family to tell a tale.

In this case the main character is named Ray and he walks the hills behind his house in a small fishing village
Theresa Glover
Jun 12, 2011 Theresa Glover rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure how to really classify or discuss this story other than to say that the style of writing was interesting and the story was well written, and the characters believable. The chapters all begin as if you're looking down on the scene from afar and a conspiratorial, confessional type narrator is discussing what is laid out in front of you, then the focus narrows and you're back into the story and the narrator fades away until the beginning of the next chapter. The first time, this was di ...more
Nov 08, 2010 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in its entirety during a cross-country flight, and was enjoying it...right up until the ending. I'd endured with valor the rather dull story of a downtrodden man who'd lost his son, then his wife, because it had an upward-moving emotional tenor that seemed to promise at least a positive or hopeful ending, if not a "happy" one. And then, the ending was absolutely awful, and sudden. It was kind of a "be careful what you wish for" theme, but then again not even quite that. It was rather ...more
Damien Angelica Walters
This is a beautiful, lyrical story filled with emotion. The ending made my heart hurt, but in the best possible way. I truly cared about Ray, the main character. Following the death of his young son, he is caught up in a fog of loss and grief, and when he encounters The Thief of Broken Toys, he thinks he's found a way out of the dark hole of despair. I'll say no more about the story for fear of revealing too much, but Tim Lebbon is a gifted author who takes you on a journey with gorgeous prose, ...more
Jun 03, 2010 Corey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Thief of Broken Toys is far more of a mood piece than a horror story, and where there is horror, it is of the more cerebral variety. This is the horror of loss and memory, and the horror of recovery. As Lebbon's fable wends it's way to a close and the importance of grief is made apparent, it is clear that he's a writer of vast talents and sublime emotional wisdom.

Read the rest of the review here.
Matt Moore
Feb 27, 2010 Matt Moore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very quick read, but a bizarre one. Following Ray, a man whose son had recently died, we see into his grief to a level that made me squirm. All grief is quiet and personal, and we get right inside Ray and see his despair. But then there is the Thief of Broken Toys, a man we never quite understand but offers Ray salvation... but at a price.

If you are looking for everything to be tied up nice and neat, skip this one. But if you are looking for an experience unlike anything you've read, more than
This was a short, interesting story. It was sad and hopeful at the same time with an unexpected ending. I still have some questions as to what exactly happened toward the end.

In the book, which takes place in an English village by the sea, Ray has a difficult time coping with his son's death. He meets an old man who appears to help him cope as Ray gathers up his son's broken toys that he had always intended to mend, but never did. But how is the old man helping him, exactly? And is he actually h
Jun 07, 2011 Blu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bryce Holt
Started out interesting, turned boring, turned ridiculous, and finally turned into a what-the-hell-just-happened ending. This is the third book in recent reading where I just closed the cover and was left angry for even taking the three hours it took me to get through it. The writing was actually pretty good in most places, I'll give Lebbon that, but other than that, I was let down.
Jeff Heimbuch
Sep 06, 2011 Jeff Heimbuch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up over the weekend from Tim at Horrorfind. I started it an hour ago and couldn't put it down. It was a wonderful tale of loss and how a father deals with it...with the help of a strange old man. Fantastic little read.
Philip Athans
Feb 22, 2016 Philip Athans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though billed as "horror" there's nothing scary about this brilliant and heartfelt novella of memory and loss. Matching Tim Lebbon's mature and articulate writing is Erik Mohr's exemplary design. This is a book to buy and keep.
Jun 08, 2010 Tone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A dark little story about dealing with loss and dealing with it badly.
I can't remember the last time I read a novella so this was especially refreshing.
May 27, 2012 Carla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a good short read which was exactly what I was in need of. It was well written and had a bit of a twilight zone feeling to it as it progressed.
Nov 14, 2014 Karl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chizine_own
This is copy 3 of 74 signed numbered copies.
Kevin Lucia
Oct 17, 2011 Kevin Lucia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this all today. AND YOU SHOULD TOO.
Maggie Gordon
The Thief of Broken Toys is a haunting little novella about grief. Ray hasn't been the same since his son Toby died until one day he is walking in the woods and meets a strange old man in the woods who wants to repair one of Toby's broken toys. Everyone he repairs a toy, Ray's grief recedes. But the relief comes with a price, and the book ends on a horrifying note. While the ending was a bit abrupt, the novella is well-written with a sympathetic main, and the abruptness does add to the dreadful ...more
Autor bastante conceituado no mundo do Horror e vencedor de vários prémios pela ficção literária que tem produzido, Tim Lebbon é um nome que cria grandes expectativas no género. Quando vi este volume, a 50 cêntimos na Eurocon (cortesia da Livraria Gigamesh) não pensei duas vezes e nesse mesmo dia li-o na viagem.

O que encontrei é uma boa história que usa terrores mundanos para iniciar a narrativa e alguns elementos sobrenaturais para a desenvolver, mas num
Jan 12, 2015 Evelyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing style was a wonderful thing to read. There were some lines that were just... so well written that they just strike you. The type of lines that just have you stop and think about it. I also enjoyed the (somewhat rare) use of 2nd person that came in at times. This piece really pulled me in, and I began getting caught up in the mood of the work. For these things i'm moving what may have tentatively been a 3 or 3.5 star rating to a 4. However, despite the pros, there were still -

2.5 stars

I picked up this book years ago as something about it called to me, but of course, it took until now to finally read it (TBR problems).

Whenever I read a novella (or short story), I can't help but think I missed something, or that I'm not "smart" enough to get these books, or maybe I read it at the wrong time, etc. The story was interesting: it's about a grieving father (Ray), now estranged from his wife, who lost his 5 year old son a year prior. In part of his healing, he sets about wa
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I love writing, reading, triathlon, real ale, chocolate, good movies, occasional bad movies, and cake.

I was born in London in 1969, lived in Devon until I was eight, and the next twenty years were spent in Newport. My wife Tracey and I then did a Good Thing and moved back to the country, and we now live in the little village of Goytre in Monmouthshire with our kids Ellie and Daniel. And our dog,
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