Reading a short story by Angela Carter is the equivalent of visiting a friend who has travelled the world and now lives by herself in an apartment filled with cats, trinkets and incense. Some days, as you sit in this friend's living room, waiting for her to brew some exotic tea, the scent of burning incense lulls you into a reverie, the way in which the sunlight hits the smoke gives her living room a mysterious feel. At other times, your friend makes the mistake of lighting too many incense sticks, keeping the windows closed, the curtains shut; the items hanging on her wall suddenly look dull, the clothes hanging off her body tawdry, the bright red lipstick on her face wrong for the occasion.
When Carter is good, her stories transcend their fairy tale roots like dreams with hidden meanings. When Carter is bad, your mind drifts away from every sentence and all you can think of is skipping to the next tale