I just didn't like it. I acknowledge that it's well written, so I can't give it a terrible rating. But it's Sooooo utterly dark and angry and depressing. It's "good".... but really wasn't enjoyable for me. Maybe if I had read more uplifting books lately, I wouldn't have felt so dragged down by it, but I came off of a couple of dark, angry books and ... honestly, when I finally finished the (200 page!) book, I could hardly bring myself to pick up another book.... (so glad I chose [The Martian]!!)
It's about ... well, it's weird because it's NOT about a magic toyshop. So, yeah, there's that. There's a toyshop, but ... there's no magic there. There's a hint of maybe supernatural or gothic or something ... like 3 times. Just a hint. But that's it. And ... it's easy to chalk it up to exhaustion, imagination, stress... rather than ANYthing supernatural at all. So you think you're reading a book about magic, but it's just not.
Melanie loses her folks and has to go live with her uncle in a dirty, poor part of London. Her formerly rich and lavish life takes a severe nosedive as she attempts to navigate a world in which the patriarch is an abusive, angry, oppressive force. And poor 15-year-old Melanie struggles with not being the loved, pretty, spoiled girl she once was, as her 12-year-old brother withdraws further into himself and her 5-year-old sister essentially forgets her former life. Along with her uncle are his mute wife (who is only ever referred to as "dumb") and her two brothers, one of whom Melanie finds herself simultaneously repulsed by and drawn to. And the uncle is a toy maker who hates many of his customers, and he is obsessed with life-sized puppets, which is creepy and weird.
So yeah. It's like a creepy, weird, dark, depressing story about terrible things happening to people. Terrible things. But yes, it is well written. Carter has a talent.
So overall, three of 5 stars. Not enjoyable, but well done, if the story sounds like your kind of thing (and it apparently is for a LOT of people who really love this book).