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The Magic Toyshop

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  8,944 ratings  ·  748 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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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  8,944 ratings  ·  748 reviews


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Lord
Jan 23, 2012 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
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
...more
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
...more
Teresa
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5

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
...more
Gabrielle
I really think that when it comes to Angela Carter, it’s not her, it’s me. To say that her prose is enchanting is kind of an understatement: she weaves sensuous and surprising images with words like nobody’s business. She captures subtle yet visceral emotions with dream-like intensity, she finds what can be sexy in the strangest places and offers it to her readers with a wink. But her plots always leave me scratching my head in confusion. In fact, getting to the end of her books feels like being ...more
Jonathan
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
...more
Puck
“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 prey 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
...more
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
...more
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
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
Leanna
Sep 22, 2010 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
Althea Ann
Feb 08, 2011 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
...more
Tracey
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
...more
Jess
'I think I want to be in love with you but I don't know how.'

A darkly eccentric and Gothic coming of age story; bizarre and disturbing, repulsive and enchanting. The Magic Toyshop is a malevolent fairy tale.

Melanie is a clever, neurotic, bored, beautiful teenager. A bourgeois virgin, perhaps some of us may recognize our younger selves yearning to leave childhood behind, posing in front of mirrors, maybe even imagining ourselves as an artist's lover. (Then again, maybe not.) Following a nocturna
...more
Kayleigh Kehoe ♡
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
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“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 struct
...more
Amanda
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Ygraine
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
...more
Leah Craig
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nate D
Dec 10, 2012 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
...more
Beatrix
Oct 19, 2013 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
Shannara
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
Michael
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
Inderjit Sanghera
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Lucy Banks
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
...more
Alex
Mar 11, 2011 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
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.
Paul
Mar 20, 2008 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
...more
Alice Lippart
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful and whimsical read, quite enjoyed it
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Gothic Literature: The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter 15 23 Jan 16, 2019 03:22PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Audiobook linked to incorrect author 2 15 Dec 31, 2018 09:10PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Missing details 4 37 Apr 07, 2015 01:21AM  
Lush Library: The Magic Toyshop - For Those Who've Finished It 8 57 Sep 18, 2011 04:17AM  
Lush Library: The Magic Toyshop 13 37 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
...more

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