The Magic Toyshop (Angela Carter) – book review

I’m slowly acquainting myself with Angela Carter’s writing, and when I saw The Magic Toyshop in a Sydney bookshop, I had to have it.

This is the blurb:

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 has never met: Aunt Margaret, beautiful and speechless, and her brothers, Francie, whose graceful music belies his clumsy nature, and the volatile Finn, who kisses Melanie in the ruins of the pleasure gardens. And brooding Uncle Philip loves only the life-sized wooden puppets he creates in his toyshop. This classic gothic novel established Angela Carter as one of our most imaginative writers and augurs the themes of her later creative work.

This dark and sinister gothic-magical realism fusion bursts with beautiful prose and break-the-rules narrative. It’s imaginative, it’s compelling, it doesn’t shy from taboos … it captivated me. It starts with a very gothic premise – orphans are whisked away to a strange, hard life – but becomes more of a coming of age story that’s more horror.

Yes, it’s disturbing at times, like a nightmare on a stormy night, but Carter’s fascination with the eerie is rubbing off on me and now I want to read more.

Monique Mulligan
For more of Monique Mulligan’s writing on books, check out Write Note Reviews

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