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The Magic Toyshop

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,136 Ratings  ·  374 Reviews
One night Melanie walks through the garden in her mother's wedding dress. The next morning her world is shattered. Forced to leave the comfortable home of her childhood, she is sent to London to live with relatives she never met: Aunt Margaret, beautiful and speechless, and her brothers, Francie, whose graceful music belies his clumsy nature, and the volatile Finn, who kis ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published August 1st 1996 by Penguin Books (first published 1967)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 17, 2013 Lord rated it it was amazing
Normally, I walk into bookstores with a list. I didn’t, this time. I felt adventurous. The bookstore was enormous; there were rows and rows of shelves, winding so far it seemed endless. Shaking with delight at the sight of this, I had to ask a saleswoman what time they closed, as I was certain I would be there all day. And I had to set an alarm on my watch an hour before closing time so I’d not be rudely jerked out of my book-browsing stupor by the announcements and rush to the counter with an a ...more
Hannah Young
Jan 04, 2016 Hannah Young rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with an open mind and weird imagination!
'The Magic Toyshop' has so many exquisitely written layers, even though I only just closed its final page, I could easily pick it up and read it from beginning to end all over again and glean something new from its darkly spiralling plot.

This tale is wonderfully typical of Angela Carter and her taboo-breaking narratives. Sex, incest, feminism and a sinister magical realism are all weirdly intertwined. Fantastic imagery and symbolism are constant, transforming the story of the orphaned Melanie in
Jul 08, 2012 Rainbow rated it it was amazing
This book made me realize how long it's been since I've read a book that was EXQUISITELY written.

Angela Carter (who sounds a like fascinating character, based on her Wikipedia page) is really a poet. But the poetry isn't self-indulgent; there's a story here, a really weird one. With scary puppets and orphans. I would call this a gothy coming-of-age story that, among other things, captures the flesh-and-blood insanity of puberty. Also, it's very short.
Mar 31, 2016 Tracey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Angela Carter has thrust me into an uncomfortable world of orphans, incest, anger, mad uncles , suggestions of paedophilia and more. Strange though it sounds this book published in 1967 handled it all in a sensitive way.
The story begins with Melanie a 15year old girl exploring her body and her sexuality, then after the door closes fast behind her, when she goes for a midnight walk in her mother's wedding dress, ends up climbing naked up the apple tree to get back into her room.
Circumstances lea
Sep 22, 2010 Leanna rated it it was ok
What an odd little novel! Melanie, 15, is orphaned (along with her two younger siblings), and they are all sent to live with her uncle, his wife, and the wife's two brothers. Uncle Phillip is basically an ogre. He makes toys for a living, and every now and then puts on a private puppet show for his family. These puppets are his pride and joy, and he subjects his family to bizzare, short shows with these elaborately made creatures. He is a brute: violent, rude, and altogether domineering. His wif ...more
Apr 27, 2016 Leslie added it
Angela Carter’s prose is so decadent; it is ruffled (or stabbed!) with description and metaphor. I enjoy her balance of jeweled things and depravity. It feels wrong to give a book with such lovely writing 3 stars, but I had a terrible time getting through this book. The pacing of the Magic Toyshop was so slow after the first (intoxicating) third of the book. Perhaps this is because last 2/3rds are so concerned with captivity and spectatorship. This portion of the tale is set in the toyshop (and ...more
Althea Ann
Feb 08, 2011 Althea Ann rated it liked it
Having just finished Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber,' her retellings of traditional fairy tales, I thought I'd read something else by her in order to have a basis for comparison.
The Magic Toyshop is, firstly, much more horrific and disturbing than the cute cover of this edition would lead one to expect. It's full of over-the-top elements of gothic grotesquerie - I can almost imagine the author, while writing, gleefully exclaiming, "oh yes! I know what will make this Even Worse!!!" - but it's very
Nate D
Dec 11, 2012 Nate D rated it liked it
Recommended to Nate D by: Maya
The simple fairy-tale / literature-of-orphans-and-misfortune (and lots of overlap there) surface of this story seems to conceal a high level of thematic deftness and intricacy, seemingly built around a series of simulacra. And where will it all go?


Later: somewhere slightly else, maybe, but the complex underlyings are pretty fascinating. Identity and self, as external from the self, in objects and more importantly, in others. But constructed with a deftness and overriding narative coherency th
I was lucky to discover Angela Carter’s writing at a very young age, not long after I had started to read grown-up books.

I spotted a book named ‘The Magic Toyshop’ on a paperback carousel in the library. What was such a thing doing on the shelves for grown-ups? And why did it have a dark green cover, that looked like a classic, but not the sort of classic I had ever seen before?

I picked the book up, I began to read, and what I read was extraordinary. It was like nothing I had read before and it
Apr 20, 2014 Allycks rated it it was amazing
I've been uncomfortably prone (isn't that the name of a Pink Floyd classic?) to literature-related dreaming of late (no joke: I even had a David Foster Wallace-related dream the other night, which was simply too good to be true, and another one related to Amis' "Time's Arrow" which I remembered when subsequently catching a glimpse of an old Coldplay video... by the way... the cliché about other people's dreams being the most boring subject material in the world is way overused and over-rated, as ...more
Elli (The Bibliophile)
I thought this was an enjoyable read and that the writing was quite good! I found certain plot points could have been expanded on though, and that maybe the novel was a bit too short and that the story ended without tying any of the loose ends. Overall it was a fun read, but an imperfect novel in my opinion. I look forward to reading more of Angela Carter's work in the future, however!
Adela Cacovean
Melanie are cincisprezece ani, vârsta la care nu e nici copilă, nici adolescentă. De ea şi de fraţii ei, Jonathon şi Victoria, are grijă doamna Rundle, bona lor, împreună cu pisica ei. Părinţii lor muncesc în străinătate pentru ca aceştia să se bucure de toate luxurile vremii respective (nu e specificat în carte, însă bănuiesc că e vorba de anii ’60) de la săpunuri parfumate şi şampon până la simpla hârtie igienică. Într-o noapte în care nu poate dormi, Melanie intră în camera părinţilor ei şi î ...more
Apr 09, 2008 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
Let me say up front that I'm an apologist for genre fiction, especially science fiction and fantasy. I get excited when a writer merges genre seamlessly with literature, because I don't think it happens very often.

Angela Carter's dark fantasy achieves this feat with the coming of age of the rich, spoiled twelve-year-old Melanie, who is orphaned early in the novel and sent to live with her cruel, working-class uncle. Despite the cliched setup, her story is startling and evocative from there, even
Tess Avelland
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2010 Allanah rated it it was amazing
This novel, for me, is perfection. It again merges the adolescent feelings of losing innocence and virginity with the adult concept of it. It all comes down to Melanie trying on her mothers wedding dress. Too big for her, like the idea of sex (in the country.) It's in the city. In the heart of London. After losing her parents and becoming a Flower, she is kissed, she gets intimate, she gets 'fucked.'
There is a looming Uncle who makes toys and puppets that have human qualities. He lives out his
Aaron Jansen
Aug 07, 2012 Aaron Jansen rated it really liked it
Oddly enough, I got a powerful Lemony Snicket vibe from this book, to the point where I would not consider "adult, condensed version of A Series of Unfortunate Events" to be a terribly inaccurate description. Of course this book was written before Daniel Handler was even born. I wonder if he was at all under its influence when dreaming up his series of children's novels.

Okay, the similarities are largely superficial, but they are noticeable. Three siblings (the eldest a girl in her teens, the mi
She remembered the lover made up out of books and poems she had dreamed of all summer; he crumbled like the paper he was made of before this insolent, off-hand, terrifying maleness, filling the room with its reek. She hated it. But she could not take her eyes off him.

Torn wedding dresses, shattered dreams, death, incest and magic realism, written in the most exquisite language with heavy use of thought-provoking symbolism and subtle hints. Reading it was such an unforeseen surprise, and I am l
You are about to encounter the vibrant and conversational ghost of Angela Carter.

In my opinion, The Magic Toyshop does not merit 4 stars, at least not for what it achieves in the literary sector; but Carter does have such an uncompromising commitment to hating everything male with an abundant (literally) ball-crushing fervour that I cannot help admiring her just a little bit.

Actually, it’s hard to avoid comparing her novel with Winterson’s Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. While the latter is mere
This book has such a cute cover and such an innocent and magical title that I was expecting a fairy-tale between the covers. Since this is a book for grown-ups I didn't think it was all going to be lovely and happy ever after, but I definitely wasn't ready for the rather horrific tale I encountered.

Melanie is 15 when her world shatters. Both her parents die in an airplane accident and she and her younger brother and sister have to go and live with their uncle, his wife and her two younger brothe
Emma Wallace
Mar 30, 2016 Emma Wallace rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
3.5. This was my first dip into the world of Angela Carter and I must say I found it really enjoyable- it was a completely surreal experience and I really enjoyed her pyrotechnic writing style and the bucolic images she fills this book to the brim with. While the narrative structure wasn't quite fully formed for me I was really intrigued by her unconventional depiction of feminist issues and can definitely perceive the Atwoody elements of her stream of consciousness narrative and the microcosm o ...more
Dec 30, 2012 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
There's only one thing better than a good book, and that's a good book that introduces you to a brand new author. Angela Carter may well just be my new obsession.

Carter's writing is at times, exquisite and at times, harrowing. This has all the elements of a fairy tale but goes much deeper than that. Sex, feminism and incest all get a look in. This book is both claustrophobic and liberating.

The ending is abrupt and a little jarring because of that. With hindsight though, what else was there lef
Signe Berg
Nov 26, 2014 Signe Berg rated it liked it
Actual rating: 3.5

Woop woop, required reading I actually enjoyed! That ending, though...
Nov 02, 2013 Alison rated it it was amazing
Well, that was just wonderful. A deliciously creepy, uncomfortable, romantic, seedy-side-of-Gothic fairy tale. This is a wonderfully subversive coming-of-age novel and I'm pretty bummed I didn't read this at sixteen.
Nose in a book (Kate)
The story centres on 15-year-old Melanie. She and her two younger siblings have to move from the middle-class comforts of their country home to live in relative poverty with their Uncle Philip in London. He is a toymaker but in every way defies the expectations of that label – he is tall, broad, strong, dark and frequently violent. He shows no kindness or empathy for the uprooted children.

The family is completed by Philip’s mute wife Margaret and her two brothers, Finn and Francie. Finn is an ob
Robin Rowles
My Title: A compelling and tragic tale of three orphaned children. But still a wonderful story!

This splendid book was first published in 1967. The Magic Toyshop won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1969. From the very first page it became obvious to me - this is a creative and very well written story, in a beautiful and effective writing style.

The story begins with Melanie (15), Jonathon (12), and Victoria (5), living in the beautiful countryside, under the care of their housekeeper, Mrs Rundl
Oct 28, 2014 Beatrix rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
I used to have this fallacy that I like Angela Carter only with my brain – I used to think that she was a writer whose works provided the perfect pretext for any enthusiastic English major student to talk about symbols, metaphors, intertextuality and all kinds of gender-stuff. I really liked both of her books I read so far (this one, which I first read during my university years as compulsory reading, and The Bloody Chamber, which I read a couple of years later, just because I wanted to read it) ...more
Aug 02, 2014 Karina rated it it was amazing
It is always difficult for me to discuss Angela Carter’s books since I always feel as if I am stumbling through someone else’s dream while reading them. This book was no different as it reads like a Gothic fairy tale, and its beautiful writing is packed with surrealism and metaphors.

At its core The Magic Toyshop is a story about 15 year old Melanie, a girl who finds herself under the care of her uncle Philip (whose personality resembles that of an ogre) after the death of her parents. The book
Nov 28, 2012 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, fantasy, mystery
This story takes the traditional orphan coming of age tragedy and gives it a good shake up with a Gothic and seriously creepy twist. It follows Melanie and her younger siblings, Jonathon and Victoria, as they are sent to live with their Uncle Philip and Aunt Margaret after the loss of their parents. At first things seem fine, a little different but fine, but as time goes on the facade begins to slip and reality begins to creep in. The characters in this book are superb and Carter brings them to ...more
Jul 26, 2015 Nikoline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gothic readers, feminists
Recommended to Nikoline by: no one
This will be a troublesome review. 'The Magic Toyshop' by Angela Carter is a book with excellent writing that truly captures the attention of the reader, the story, however, I find it difficult to wrap my mind around. It focuses on a young girl on the edge of adulthood which is filled with lust, incest and complications. Yet the author covers these themes with torn wedding dresses, magical toy shops and a jack in a box, leaving me both frustrated and somewhat pleased.

“She remembered the lover m
Jan 30, 2011 Inna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-in-english
I don't know what made Angela Carter hate males so, but it's the second book (and the last) by this writer I've read, and it's ovious that she values women over men and on the whole is a real ballcrusher. She has a fixation on the motive of castration. Well, I understand that it takes all sorts to make the world, but I also think that there's enough strife between the sexes as it is, and it's unwise parading the goodness of ones against the badness of the others. It's the pot calling the kettle ...more
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Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled anorexia. She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature.

She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter. Th
More about Angela Carter...

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