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The Magic Toyshop

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  7,992 ratings  ·  626 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
Paperback, 200 pages
Published 2006 by Virago (first published 1967)
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3.86  · 
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 ·  7,992 ratings  ·  626 reviews

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Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with an open mind and weird imagination!
Shelves: fiction, favourites
'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
Aqsa (On Hiatus)
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
2 Stars as per the pages I read.

I remember wanting to love it. This was my first read of 2019 and to think that it did nothing but dull my senses and make me wanna stay away from books. Thank God I left it for a while to try and start another.

There are a total of 9 chapters here, but after tasting the first 2, I am not sure I could digest the rest.

This was so weird. We read about Melanie-the weird girl who does nothing but look at herself in the mirror all day long and keeps discovering her bod
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

". . . Uncle Philips, all clock-work, might rush out and savage her. This possibility seemed real and awful. All her laughter was snuffed out. She was hallucinated; she felt herself not herself, wrenched from her own personality, watching this whole fantasy from another place; and, in this staged fantasy, anything was possible. Even that the swan, the mocked up swan, might assume reality itself and rape this girl in a blizzard of white feathers. The swan towered over the black-haired girl who wa
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I loved this book until its end. I don’t know how else I might’ve ended it, but I felt pulled out of the nightmare I was enjoying once the end arrived.

Before that ending, I was treated to a panoply of literary antecedents that already live inside my head: Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Sara Crewe; Lewis Carroll's Alice and the chess Queen; Dickensian anthropomorphic rooms and household items; Bluebeard; Beauty and the Beast; Roman mythology, and more. Carter doesn't hide her references, but she d
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Beyond Austerity

This novel, Angela Carter's second, took a long time to get off the ground. Only 120 pages in (60% of the way through) does it start to build any dramatic tension or apparent narrative direction. Then, only in the last chapter of 20 pages do we see what the novel is really all about. Fortunately, by that time, Carter had partially won me over again, although this is probably my least favourite work of hers.

The novel seems to be set in the early fifties, when England was just emer
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
“In this staged fantasy, anything was possible.”

The Magic Toyshop was not what I expected. Where at the start there is a promise of a gothic horror story of poor orphans falling pray to their cruel uncle, the tale actually is more a coming-of-age story sprinkled with horror. Not bad either, because the author kept me on edge the whole time.

Angela Carter is known for writing eerie fairy tales with feminist characters and magical elements, and “The Toyshop” being one of her first works it fi
Mar 30, 2016 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
Ova - Excuse My Reading
The oddest, the most bat-shit -crazy book I've ever read but I can't tell how much I enjoyed it. I'm sure there are parts I failed to understand in means of symbolism but I kind of got what you mean Angela.
Sep 22, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Raquel Baggins
2.5 ★★☆☆☆
«La habitación estaba llena de las vidas desconocidas de otras personas. La marca de una quemadura en el mantel tenía su propia historia secreta (…)»

Reseña en español | Review in English (below)
La lectura de La Juguetería Mágica de Angela Carter me ha supuesto un suplicio y una vida entera. Tengo la sensación que he tardado más de un mes en leer esta novela y que, a fin de cuentas, me ha aportado muy pocas cosas. Después de tratar de analizar objetivamente mi problema con este libro
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read_in_2019
"El verano en que cumplió quince años, Melanie descubrió que era de carne y hueso"

De un tiempo a esta parte Angela Carter se encuentra entre mis autoras favoritas. Es quien mejor plasma el descubrimiento de la sexualidad sin recurrir en sus textos a escenas remotamente obscenas u ordinarias.

Ese es el caso de "La juguetería mágica" que comienza con un primer capítulo cargado de inocente erotismo y de ingenuidad. La joven protagonista descubre por primera vez su nuevo cuerpo, lo explora confirm
Kayleigh Kehoe ♡

“She was too young, too soft and new, to come to terms with these wild beings whose minds veered at crazy angles from the short, straight, smooth lines of her own experience.”

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter is a poignant, enthrallingly dark piece consisting of adjective and metaphorical heaven.

The narrative is beautiful. Which makes the story all the more shocking. The storyline follows a curiously gross structure w
Leah Craig
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: magical-realism
For some reason this book couldn't keep my attention very well and actually made me groggy. Apart from that this is foremost a story about a trio of siblings whose parents die and have to move in with an estranged uncle and his strange family. Nothing in this book is beautiful or happy. There's domestic violence and poverty and general uncleanliness. Not sure why this is titled The Magic Toyshop as nothing is magical and the toy shop is where much of the trouble happens. It had a weird abrupt en ...more
Nate D
Dec 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i think the first time i read the magic toyshop, i was too young, younger than melanie and easily overwhelmed by the cloying, claustrophobic fear of a too-small world governed by a vast, fleshy puppet-master. then i found it compelling, but deeply confusing and vaguely repulsive. i still do.

but now, coming back to it with a mind full of thoughts about houses and freud's uncanny as the unhomely, and fascinated by the tidal flow towards and away from a warm domesticity that both comforts and threa
010717: are you tired of ordinary people? are you tired of ambiguity in characters? are you tired of sensible plots? do you yearn for exaggerated morality of adult fairy tales? well then this is the book for you. i do not mean this in a bad way, as i did enjoy this but, truly, more for invention of modernish magical realist parallels for gothic stories than for great art. that is, for the artist in one rather than the philosopher... the cover image of my copy- puppet/characters manipulated by ev ...more
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Κυκλοφόρησε στα Ελληνικά, ως "Το μαγαζάκι με τα μαγικά παιχνίδια", εκδόσεις Γράμματα.
Inderjit Sanghera
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A kind of faded gothic beauty permeates ‘The Magic Toyshop’, with many of the characters being grotesque caricatures of fairy tale characters; the ogre like Uncle Phillip, his kind-hearted and long suffering wife, Margaret, the virginal Melanie and the story of orphaned children is the most atypical fairy-tale trope, with Carter coalescing he fairy-tale theme with the whimsical fantasies of Lewis Caroll and the lachrymose atmosphere of gothic literature. The fantastical nature of the story begin ...more
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A darkly eccentric and gothic coming of age story; bizarre and disturbing… but highly readable.

Angela Carter leaves no room for ambiguity. I deeply admire her brutal honesty and frankness; her bold descriptions certainly left me mildly uncomfortable but also in awe at the sheer power of her writing. The Magic Toyshop doesn’t yield much by way of action, but the compelling character dynamics and the repellent yet enchanting prose more than compensate.

Carter constructs character relationships mas
Lucy Banks
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shannara Petty
I will admit that I’m disappointed in this read. It wasn’t what I thought it would be and I had high hopes for this one. The cover is what originally drew me in, but it sounded like a fun, dark romance type book. It was dark, but the romance was not fun and I disliked most of the characters. (view spoiler) So I feel like ...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!
Abbie | ab_reads
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A latecomer for my favourites of 2018 list!After reading Wise Children in September and being slightly underwhelmed, I was determined to try another Angela Carter and find the magic everyone talks about - and it’s safe to say The Magic Toyshop fully delivered!
It’s quite unsurprising really - any coming-of-age story with a female protagonist is already off to a great start in my book, and Melanie is such a fabulous character. Carter perfectly captures her walking along that line between girlhood
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Alexia D
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Once I opened The Magic Toyshop, I was immediately transported into a dream-like world where all I wanted to do was keep turning the pages without stopping. This was my first time reading anything by Angela Carter and her writing is so vivid, vibrant, and simply magical. The plot may sound like an old fairy tale: after the death of their parents, a trio of siblings is sent to live with their sinister uncle who owns a toyshop. The story is equally charming and disturbing, and it unfolds in such a ...more
Mar 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Magic Toyshop is fantastically imagined, brilliantly written, with intensity and a wonderful dream like quality. Characters and situations are instantly memorable, and it is a book I can imagine reading again. The writing is so beautiful, descriptions are simply glorious, I look forward to reading it again one day so I can fully appreciate them.

“Melanie let herself into the night and it snuffed out her daytime self at once, between two of its dark fingers.
The flowers cupped in the garden wit
0,3 estrellas

Una lectura muy difícil de puntuar. Hasta la mitad de la lectura todo iba relativamente "bien", pero ya en último capítulo todos los acontecimientos de aceleran y termina de forma precipitada, en mi opinión le faltaba como mínimo un capitulo completo.

Macabra, morbosa, gótica, decadente con pinceladas de realismo mágico, es una historia con mucho potencial, pero falla en algo. No me convenció.

Conozco a Ángela Carter por sus cuentos, especialmente por la Cámara sangrienta y otros cu
Tess Avelland
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 10, 2019 marked it as stopped-reading  ·  review of another edition
He leído como 10 páginas y me ha aburrido demasiado como para seguir. Hay como 5 metáforas por línea...
This book was very dark and sad! It was a little wordy at first and I thought about abandoning it a few times. I'm glad I stuck with it. But, it was not a feel good, happily ever after tale. Did I miss the "magic"? What in the hell was magic about an abusive, sick fuck who made demented puppets?
May 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
No sé si fui yo o si algo en la historia no terminó de cerrar, porque me quedé casi igual que al comienzo. Hay algunos puntos interesantes, pero no puedo decir que me terminara de gustar la historia.
 “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
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I like the way Angela Carter writes, and I like the way she throws me into the psyche of a fifteen-year-old girl, and then I like the way she throws me into a thoroughly new and uncomfortable environment, only made bearable by the knowledge of and now kinship I have with young Melanie. She casts her characters well, but keeps you slightly uncomfortable with them - except this girl. She is a virgin sheet of paper, and each iniquity she suffers makes you draw her to you into your arms.

Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, uni
The best word I can think of to describe this book is 'unsettling.'

Melanie, a young, quite self-absorbed teenage girl, has her entire life turned upside down when her parents die in an accident and she and her two siblings are uprooted from their fairly lavish lifestyle to go and live with an estranged uncle she has never met. However, this is not your typical tale of an orphan going to live with an unfamiliar relative; Uncle Phillip is cruel, vicious, opinionated and I would go so far as to sa
A.D. Jansen
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Don't let the title fool you, Angela Carter's The Magic Toyshop has not magic, at least not of the Abacadabra, wands, and grimoires nature. But yes, there's magic in every page of the book, magic of a literary nature. The writing's bold, fearless and truthful to an extent that's both shocking and empathetic. You feel for Melanie, for her siblings and for the unfortunate living circumstances she finds herself after losing her parents and having to end up living with a puppeteer uncle, his mute wi ...more
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Gothic Literature: The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter 15 20 Jan 16, 2019 03:22PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Audiobook linked to incorrect author 2 14 Dec 31, 2018 09:10PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Missing details 4 35 Apr 07, 2015 01:21AM  
Lush Library: The Magic Toyshop - For Those Who've Finished It 8 53 Sep 18, 2011 04:17AM  
Lush Library: The Magic Toyshop 13 35 Sep 15, 2011 12:11PM  

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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
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