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The Magic Toyshop

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  4,543 ratings  ·  323 reviews
This crazy world whirled around her, men and women dwarfed by toys and puppets, where even the birds are mechanical and the few human figures went masked...She was in the night once again, and the doll was herself.' Melanie walks in the midnight garden, wearing her mother's wedding dress; naked she climbs the apple tree in the black of the moon. Omens of disaster, swiftly ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published December 31st 1981 by Virago (first published January 1st 1967)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lord
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
Sep 08, 2008 Hannah Young rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
Leanna
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
Leslie
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
Rainbow
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.
Althea Ann
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
...more
Nate D
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
...more
Jane
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
...more
Adela C.
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
Paul
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
...more
Allycks
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
Tess Avelland
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Allanah
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
...more
Signe Berg
Actual rating: 3.5

Woop woop, required reading I actually enjoyed! That ending, though...
Aaron Jansen
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
...more
Rikke
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
...more
Elaine
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
...more
Jackie Watts
There is no denying the effortless beauty of Angela Carter's writing. She conjures the scenery of this book in exquisite detail, and I was completely transported back to the 1960s in all their minutely observed grottiness.
The story - a rather surreal "coming of age" tale - is narrated from the perspective of an orphaned adolescent girl so its more melodramatic elements are quite fitting. The inconsistency and clumsiness of some of the characterisation jars a little, but may well be intended to r
...more
Karina
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
...more
Alison
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.
Davide Ariasso
Absolutely brilliant writing, so vivid, full of colours and images. Incredibly beautiful characters. I was just slightly disappointed by the ending, which felt a bit rushed. I can see the circular symbology, everything reverberates with archetypal strength and power, but I think the ending sequence needed a fuller development. Still, a masterpiece of narration and poetic prose. One thing I'm not sure about is.. the title! Why The Magic Toyshop? It doesn't feel like the toyshop was magic in itsel ...more
Berit
I always have to get used to Carter's reality when I start reading, but it's always worth it.
What I like about Carter's books is that they walk the fine line between fantasy and reality. It's magical realism at its best. Most of this read like a dark fairytale, but when I stop to think about it, it *could* have happened, which is really disturbing…I guess that's what makes her works so powerful.

I also love the way she writes:

"The violence in the house was palpable. It trembled on the cold stai
...more
Beatrix
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
Sam
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
Inna
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
Cristina Boncea
Melanie, Victoria și Jonathon sunt trei frați care obișnuiau să trăiască împreună cu bona lor într-o casă la țară. Părinții lor călătoreau peste ocean și le puteau oferi tot ce își doreau.

Aceștia din urmă, mor în urma prăbușirii unui avion (autoarea nu explică foarte clar cum s-a întâmplat) iar cei trei copii rămași orfani sunt obligați să locuiască la unchiul lor în Londra, dat fiind că nu aveau nici un fel de bani puși de o parte.
Ajung într-un cartier mărginaș din sud și o cunosc pe Margaret,
...more
Beth
I was prompted to read this after noticing Angela Carter being mentioned by several book bloggers, all claiming to love her books. "Ooh!," I thought, "I've never heard of her...must try!" The story was unique and the writing incredibly descriptive. The characters were well-defined by their traits and an element of mystery or suspense always loomed in the background. I just may read another one of Angela Carter's titles (there are many to choose from by the way).

Favorite Quotes:
"Her skin prickled
...more
Jesse
I am a big fan of Angela Carter.

I first read her short stories, The Bloody Tower, in college for a class on Gothic/Horror Literature. And had been wanting to read it since I saw it on a book list for a different literature class by the same professor.

Carter does an excellent job in some ways reinventing Gothic Literature. Making it contemporary (for the time it was written), using many stylings of traditional Gothic literature, and mixing it up. Like Bronte did for Jane Eyre, it takes a change i
...more
Marleen
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
...more
Lucy Cokes
WARNING: This will be a totally biased view because...erhhh....I LOVE Angela Carter just a lot.

I loved this book. I'd forgotton the way Carter writes things so that took some getting used to again but I think it's wonderful. Some bits can be shocking and taboo but nevermind! That what's makes it so amazing, (no I'm not just a freak)
I wanted something more magical to happen...but ultimatley it's about human relationships so I suppose you can get away with that. I've only read The Bloody Chamber b
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Missing details 4 18 Apr 07, 2015 01:21AM  
Lush Library: The Magic Toyshop - For Those Who've Finished It 8 31 Sep 18, 2011 04:17AM  
Lush Library: The Magic Toyshop 13 22 Sep 15, 2011 12:11PM  
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From Wikipedia: 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
...more
More about Angela Carter...
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories Nights at the Circus Wise Children Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales The Passion of New Eve

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“I think I want to be in love with you but I don't know how.” 73 likes
“She stood lost in eternity... watching the immense sky...” 19 likes
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