Told in the unsettling voice of a child-adult repeating ancient truths, The Spy Toys presents a young girl listening too well to a schoolmate’s disconcerting view of the “pot-bellied old rubicund man” seen only in December, and the “intelligence agency for the collection of information on children’s behavior.” Scares grow toward a semblance of horror, but the story’s short and the day won’t be as dire as the spymaster predicts. There’s even a kind of sweetness in the ending, belying the Tom Brown’s Schooldays feel of the start. And the formal tone of the writing provides an appropriately awkward backdrop to the thoughts of an overly gullible child. disclosure: I was given a free ecopy of this short story by the author.
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