the guardian Fri 03 July 2009
The woods around the Hayman family's Dorset home stretch for 300 acres, taking in caves, clearings and a bowl-like quarry. They are a fine landscape for the imagination, and the genial Arthur spins yarns around them, centred on a boy named Luke, the mysterious Mr Toppit and the foreboding Darkwood. When Arthur is hit by a cement truck in central London, a strange series of events sweeps his books to global success. Soon Mr Toppit's name is on the lips of punning politicians, book-lovers are crawling all over Arthur's forest and the Hayman family are struggling to negotiate a world that desperately wants a piece of them. Elton's neat debut allows the former literary agent to parody the publishing world, the puffed-up British film industry and entourage-packed LA. Not all of his characters are perfectly realised, but Mr Toppit builds into something special nonetheless, as Arthur's son Luke deals with school, crosses the Atlantic and uncovers the sad secrets that underpin his family and their cash-spewing franchise.