The Thief of Broken Toys by Tim Lebbon
ChiZine Publications, Toronto, 2010
I own this one. Another book for the TBR Dare.
I discovered ChiZine last year and check their website every once in a while just to see what they are up to. They publish “weird, surreal dark fiction” in different forms, short stories, novellas and novels and I find myself intrigued by some of their titles. They are a small press and I enjoy supporting independent publishing so I break my “no new book buying” ban occasionally and buy one of their books. This one caught my eye.
When Ray and Elizabeth lose their son Toby it destroys their marriage. Elizabeth leaves their home and takes up with another man. Ray sinks in to despair and begins wandering the cliffs around their small village. Then he runs into a stranger who also is wandering the cliffs and everything begins to change. Are his memories real? Did he really have a son?
The story is told from different points of view in a way that is gentle and almost seamless. It could have been awkward but it all flows quite easily, at times beautifully. It is subtle story, filled with longing and darkness.
And now there you are, sitting in your garden above the harbour looking down at the hypnotically shifting sea beyond the harbour wall. It sways and shifts, bulges and ebbs like the grey skin of a giant beast, a sleeping thing that has no concept of the humans who have come and built themselves around and over it. Sometimes there is a distant splash as a wave impacts the stone wall and the sound serenades the gulls to provide a melody for the village. From page 16.
The Thief of Broken Toys is about devastating loss and the inability to deal with that loss, either on one’s own or with others. It is about memory, is memory real or is it dream? It is well-written dark fantasy. I have never read Tim Lebbon before and this small book has me curious about his other work.