Books: Lord of the Nutcracker Men

The Lord of The Nutcracker Men
by Iain Lawrence

I found The Lord of the Nutcracker Men a very easy and enjoyable read.

After ten-year-old Johnny’s father volunteers for the British Army in WW1 and his mother starts a job in a munitions factory, he has to move away from the city and live with his aunty in a small, rural village. 

Johnny’s father was a toy-maker who whittled toy soldiers for Johnny. He continued to send new toy soldiers to Johnny from the frontline trenches. The plot is very clever and is rooted in Johnny’s games with his toy soldiers who parallel his father’s real-life experiences. 

Like everyone else, Johnny initially expects his father to be home for Christmas, but realises that that won’t be the case. As his father’s letters become more vivid and honest, Johnny comes to believe that he is controlling the war and his father’s fate in the war through his games with the toy soldiers his father makes and sends to him.

The characters are well-developed and the settings feel historically authentic. The threads to the plot are wonderfully wound together and it ticks along at a satisfying pace. The writing is honest and charming. The writing style is genuinely pleasant and works to create a richly-told story. I really enjoyed reading Lord of the Nutcracker Men and can recommend it to adults as well as the young-teen readers for whom it was primarily written.

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