Title: The Toymaker’s Apprentice
Author: Sherri L. Smith
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy/Retelling
Based on the original inspiration for the Nutcracker ballet, Sherri L. Smith brings the Nutcracker Prince to life in this fascinating journey into a world of toymaking, magical curses, clockmaking guilds, talking mice and erudite squirrels.
A lot of the middle grade books I read usually fall some where around the 3-star range. However, this book exceeded my expectations. I learned about this book from BookTube, and the storyline piqued my interest. I had recently read ‘The Nutcracker’, so finding out that this was a retelling of that story made me even more interested.
When we meet the protagonist, Stefan, his mother has just passed away, and he is thinking about his next steps. He questions being a toy maker is his destiny, as it was for his father. Grief has left him confused about the future, and made him guarded. When his estranged cousin, Christian, shows up Stefan immediately finds him suspicious. However, they quickly form a connection and bond while reminiscing about Stefan’s deceased mother.
Stefan accept Christian’s offer to be his apprentice, and become a clock maker. More than anything, it seemed like he desired to forge a new path, due to his mother’s death. Stefan wasn’t necessarily a complex character, but he was clever. He easily combined his love of toy making with his fascination with clock making, which made him unique.
The other characters, such as Christian, Stefan’s father, and Christian’s companion were well rounded characters. However, I found Stefan to be the most enjoyable character. Still, every characters had their own place in the story, even all the mice, and I don’t think the plot would have been complete without all of them. As I mentioned, there are mice characters, because it wouldn’t be a Nutcracker retelling without mice.
I liked how we got a look into the mice kingdom and the evil Mouse Queen. Her mice babies were all different in personality, but you could see how much their mother’s influence affected them. Their thoughts and emotions were very human like, which is an odd thing to say about mice.
The story is slow at first, but around the third chapter, it picked up. There wasn’t a point throughout the story that I was bored, or wanted to put it down in favor of something else. There was so much mystery and excitement within every chapter. Stefan goes on this adventure that changes his life forever, and you can see how it helped him come to terms with his mother’s passing.
There were so many twists and turns throughout the book, that you almost couldn’t tell where the story was going, or what to expect next. Right when you think the ending is near, and everything is wrapping up, the author throws you for a loop, and you are left needing to know how it all turns out.
I couldn’t put down the last few chapters, because the plot was so enticing. The ending was fantastic, while being somewhat sad. I wanted these characters’ journeys to continue. In my opinion, the author needs to write more books that include this cast of characters. Also, if you are new to the fantasy genre, this would be a good book to pick up. It is a gripping fantasy, but it isn’t intimidating. More of a lighter fantasy, in essence.
If you haven’t read this book yet, I really don’t know what you’re waiting for. I would also recommend it to any tween, 12+ years old. Please leave me a like, and share my reviews with others. Remember, something as little as liking my blog means a lot to me.
Until The Next Chapter,