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The Magic Toyshop (Virago Modern Classics)
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The Magic Toyshop (Virago Modern Classics)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  6,425 Ratings  ·  474 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 1967)
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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
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 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
Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Κυκλοφόρησε στα Ελληνικά, ως "Το μαγαζάκι με τα μαγικά παιχνίδια", εκδόσεις Γράμματα.
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Magic Toyshop is my favourite Angela Carter novel. I think maybe I even prefer it to the short stories. Which is funny because I don't think it's regarded that highly in Carters oeuvre. She herself seems a little disparaging of it in interviews, almost as if it's juvenilia. Before I'd read the book, I saw the David Wheatley film. It blew my mind. I read the novel shortly afterwards and imagined everything in it (characters and setting) as they were in the film. Even now, re-reading the book, ...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
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
the gift
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 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 evil master- ba ...more
Tess Avelland
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Rachel Louise Atkin
This started slow for me but by the end I really liked it! It follows a fourteen year old girl called Melanie who has to live with her Uncle in London where he runs a toy shop. Here her life is changed by the people she encounters and her new lifestyle. It's very connected to ancient myths and reads like a fairytale. Anyone a fan of her other stories would enjoy this.
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?
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
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book - the atmosphere and the claustrophobia the strange puppets, the fairytale magic-realist qualities. It reminded me very much of the Cement Garden. I only felt the ending was a tad brusque, but otherwise I think it is by far the most accessible of Angela Carter's books. It is totally immersive and alive despite the strangeness of the story. And as writer, the attention to the concrete detail of the world, and the visual imagery is very inspiring.
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
Aaron 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
 “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
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
May 15, 2012 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
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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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