The Magic Toyshop Paperback – Aug 1 1996
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From Library Journal
Originally published as Honeybuzzard (LJ 1/1/67), Shadow Dance launched British author Carter's career, which she buttressed with The Magic Toyshop two years later. Both received praise from LJ's reviewers, especially the latter novel, which was hailed as an "extraordinary, even brilliant piece of writing" (LJ
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"A magic novel, sexy and eccentric, romantic and tricky."
Voice Literary Supplement
"Beneath its contemporary surface, this novel shimmers with blurred echoesfrom Lewis Carroll, from 'Giselle' and 'Coppelia,' Harlequin and Punch.
It leaves behind it a flavor, pungent and unsettling."
The New York Times Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
Melanie and her two siblings are suddenly orphaned at the very beginning of the novel and ripped from their genteel upper-class way of life to live in the slums of a large city with their brutal Uncle Philip (a toymaker) and their silent Aunt Margaret.
Melanie finds herself increasingly drawn to the young man Finn who has the bedroom next to hers. He is a quietly subversive, freakish character who sides with Melanie in her growing dislike of Uncle Phillip. The household is full of submerged tension that centres around Aunt Margaret and which comes to a head when Melanie is forced to play the part of Leida in Uncle Phillips dark puppet version of Leida and the Swan. Melanie is metaphorially raped, Finn defies his uncle to come to her rescue and the repressed members of Uncle Phillips swiftly family spiral into chaos.
The ending is a little unexpected (like a train wreck when the rails run out!)and not as well controlled as the rest of the novel but this is a book you read for images, ideas and spectacular use of language as much as for the plot.
Carter excelled at writing bizzare details that fascinate at the same time as they repell...and this makes for a compelling read. This is a book I first read in my early twenties and one I re-read every couple of years or so and always find something new.
Melanie and her two siblings are suddenly orphaned, and whisked away from the beautiful country house and idyllic life they've always known. Soon they're living in a slummy area of the city, with their brutish toymaker Uncle Philip, wraithlike mute Aunt Margaret, and her two brothers, in a house that is crammed with the magnificent toys that Uncle Philip creates.
Melanie finds herself increasingly drawn to her aunt's brother Finn, a feisty Irish boy who hides an artistic soul and a punk attitude -- and he and Philip are locked in a silent war. As the family tensions come to a climax, Melanie learns of a dark secret that Aunt Margaret is hiding, and which can only end in a horrific tragedy.
"The Magic Toyshop's" title would make you think that it's about... well, the toys, or the toymaker. Instead, it's all about Melanie's maturation into a young woman, and how she leaves her childhood behind. Unfortunately it starts to stagger toward the finale, as if Carter didn't know how to deal with all this stuff.
What makes this novel so intoxicating is the lush writing. Carter fills her prose with a ripe sensuality, rich in colours, sensations, feelings and impressions (such as the horrifying attack by a swan puppet, a la Leda). And she accurately captures a young girl's dreams and exploration, such as Melanie posing before a mirror, pretending to be a classic artist's model.Read more ›
A young hopeful girl coming to terms with her self, and relishing in fantasies of life and love yet to come. She feels traped and held back, only realising what she had when her life comes tumbling down around her.
Orphaned and empoverished Melanie and her two younger siblings are sent to live with their 'Uncle Philipe' in London.
When Melanie arrives at her uncles home (The Magic Toy Shop), she finds him living in the squalor of down trodden London, running his houshold on next to nothing. There she meets 'The red people', Uncle Philipes mute wife, Auntie Margaret and her two brothers, Francie and Finn.
Her fantasies destroyed she must stay strong under the harsh, misogynistic, and violent reign of the puppet obsesed Philipe. Her only comfort being the strong yet strange bond between 'the red people'.
Gradually Melanie, finds herself falling, angainst her own will, for one the quirky and mysterious brothers Finn. Discovering that love is not way it seems in magazines and books.
However, Melanie's not so simple life takes a bizarre turn. Edding in a chaotic climax. You'll be itching for more when you've finished, and like my self wishing Angela had written a sequel.
So far, so not odd, we have all read a rich kid becomes poor through circumstance story. But this one is odd in that Uncle Phillip is a stern disciplinarian who resides over a poverty stricken household of his silent wife and her two brothers. Melanie cannot figure out why this woman has married her awful uncle, a malevolent puppet maker who cares more for his wooden creations than his family. The situation in the household slowly deteriorates, with the ill will seeming to grow as the days go by, until everything becomes undone in the violent climax.
Melanie is a character that it is hard to sympathise with, as though we are given insight into both her internal mental state and the awful things around her, I ended the book still not feeling a really knew her. Without giving away the plot, there seems to be a lot of inevitability that doesn't quite ring true. Or perhaps the author was attempting to underline how some people's life is swept on the currents of events they have no control over. Either way, I thought that the characters were interesting, I only wish that I could have understood their motivations a little better.
Most recent customer reviews
its a great book and i feel that reading it leaves you with a feeling of'wow what was all that about? Read morePublished on April 25 2003
Angela Carter has never failed to impress me. Her imagination knows no limits -- and she illustrates the same whenever she explores the realm of magical realism in her novels. Read morePublished on April 16 2003 by CoffeeGurl
A tour de force for Angela Carter. This novel is a perfectly formed gem cut in the inimitable Carter style. Read morePublished on Dec 13 2002 by Reverend_Maynard
Angela Carter was a genius. The book is written in a very floral, descriptive language that perhaps wth other writers would present a shallow novel. Read morePublished on Nov. 19 2002
It's truly excellent because of the fairy tale/children's story element. It's also a story about life in England for young people in the early 70's. Read morePublished on Sept. 18 2002 by R. Gahan
i have given this book away too many times - from now on, i'm keeping mine and buying new ones for my friends and lovers. i adore angela. i *ADORE* this book. Read morePublished on Jan. 15 2002 by blah
Of all of Carter's books this one retains an extra certain kind of charm, perhaps because it plays on this children's book format thing. Read morePublished on Nov. 29 2001 by sharon thomas
This early Angela Carter novel is one of her simplist and best. I recently read a book , SIGHTS by Susanna Vance, that carries on Carter's otherworldly tradition of writing.Published on May 23 2001