If you remember (if you read it--you will) the alarming Honeybuzzard, Angela Carter is a young writer of some imaginative precision who has developed a form which is very much her own--you might call it a Victorian gothic grotesque. This one, just as sad and sinister and mystifying in its intent, mostly takes place in a filthy flat above a toyshop where Melanie, fifteen, and her younger brother and sister are sent to stay with an aunt and uncle after their parents' death. Their aunt has been dumb ever since her wedding; their uncle is very frightening; and their aunt's two brothers (grown) to whom Melanic refers as the ""red"" people, are also permanently attached to the household. Part of what is taking place there will be clear when the uncle stages a puppet show; the rest will not even have been suspected. All of this alternates between reality (Miss Carter has a decorator eye for detail) and dark fantasy, but for the common reader her babes in toyland exposed to truly forbidden games remain something of an isolating curiosa.