They Stole Our Hearts is the second book in the Teddies Saga by Daniel Kraus. Due out 11th Jan 2022 from Macmillan on their Henry Holt imprint, it's 240 pages and will be available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats.
Although this is marketed for middle grades (10years+), I found it really quite scary, more horror than thriller/fantasy. There is quite a lot of blended real life trauma (parents fighting in front of the little girl, Darling, Darling's mother screaming and belittling her, teddies being dismembered quite graphically, dead teddies left right and center, and more). In addition, there are "dream sequence" interludes which are unsettling and scary-ish.
The book is undeniably well written though. The atmosphere throughout is charged with tension and palpable danger. The author absolutely knows his craft. There is very little backstory given in the narrative, so I would not recommend this one as a standalone. I hadn't read the first book when I read this one and I am sure it wouldn't have been nearly as confusing in the start. For readers who pick this one up without having read the first one, give it a few chapters to get up to speed with the plot.
The unabridged audiobook has a run time of 5 hours and 40 minutes and is well narrated by Kirby Heyborne. He has a rich and expressive voice and manages to read the different characters (including young, old, teddy bears, and adults) distinctly and clearly. The sound and production quality throughout are to a high standard.
The next book in the series is foreshadowed heavily with a cliffhanger ending which left me feeling somewhat frustrated.
Four stars for the print and audiobook versions.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes