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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fairy tales with a modern(and adult) twist
This book is an absolute gem with not a single story feeling out of place or unneccessary. Every story works on its own but the overall collection is fabulous. This is a book for anyone who enjoyed traditional fairy tales as it expands on each of the traditional stories like Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast and Puss in Boots whilst the adult content ensures that it doesn't...
Published on 12 Sep 2005

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pithy sex
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter is a set of short stories that parody folk-tale and legend. Let's not beat about the bush. The bloody chamber in question is the vagina and the capital of these stories is sex. But they also re-interpret and re-work fairy tale, myth and legend so that the stories take on - literally and explicitly - the adult rating they always...
Published 16 months ago by Philip Spires


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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fairy tales with a modern(and adult) twist, 12 Sep 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories (Vintage Magic) (Paperback)
This book is an absolute gem with not a single story feeling out of place or unneccessary. Every story works on its own but the overall collection is fabulous. This is a book for anyone who enjoyed traditional fairy tales as it expands on each of the traditional stories like Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast and Puss in Boots whilst the adult content ensures that it doesn't feel as if you are re-reading childhood books. This has become one of my favourite books and I would recommend it to anyone whose inner child desires a slightly more intense fairy tale.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sense and Sensuality, 31 Jan 2004
This review is from: The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories (Vintage Magic) (Paperback)
I first came about this collection of stories through the inclusion of two of its works in the Neil Jordan film, the Company of Wolves. From this, I was immediately impressed and intrigued by Carter’s style of writing. In ‘the Company of Wolves’, we saw the ingenious juxtaposition between the varying mythologies of the fairy story, with the natural-sexual awakening of the adolescent. This is the defining factor of these works. Though the stories move from place to place to explore further myths and legends, it is this one consistent thread that anchors the stories together to create a unified work. The writer creates reoccurring motifs of love, lust and sexuality that give the stories a further narrative cohesion, despite being generally fragmented in terms of characters and scope.
The unity of the book, and the sustaining of the literary atmosphere, is also created through the varied textual forms that Carter chooses to chronicle. So, for her examinations here the writer hand-picks legends that have the strongest roots in sensuality... so we have vampirism, werewolves, feral children, and jungle beasts beguiling and defiling a succession of young women in a series of deeply emotional narrative episodes. To go into any great detail about these stories would be a great injustice to readers who are yet to experience Carter’s poetic use of language and deft storytelling capabilities. Needless to say, the stories featured drip with a dense, erotic atmosphere that is occasionally overwhelming... though there is also a strong underlining of horror, tension and mystery; with the reader free to read between the lines and decode the various clues that Carter layers within her work.
The author’s real genius though, is her ability to depict the more mundane aspects of life, and enrich them beyond the realms of everyday literature into a kind of Technicolor majesty through the use of poetic prose, self-referentialism, biblical quotations and more than a hint of metaphorical imagery. She also writes her stories in a beautiful stream of conscious style that is filled with richly constructed details, which brings to life every action in a completely vivid way to further develop the evocative world that is created especially for us. It’s an audacious device, but one that works exceptionally well with this kind of material... so because of this, the continual atmosphere of gothic gloom also helps to lull the reader into an almost hypnotic state in which Carter’s words can re-develop, in order to take on newer, more subjective meanings.
This book takes us on a beautiful, shocking and often frightening journey into realms of innocence and sensuality that few literary works can equate. Carter’s talent as a storyteller and as a poet are greatly under-appreciated by the so-called people in the know (how else can you explain her lack of inclusion in the Big Read’s Top 100?), and, when viewed in the context of this book, becomes something of a sad reminder of what a great talent we’ve lost. Thankfully, this book should succeed in opening your eyes to her genius, since it brilliantly demonstrates her various creative skills mirrored within each of these separate stories.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you step off the path you will be lost forever., 24 Mar 2005
This review is from: The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories (Vintage Magic) (Paperback)
Carter's re-writes of traditional European folk/fairy tales bring with them dark aspects of the human psyche that would have existed in the oral tradition but which became sanitised when written down in the 18th / 19th centuries as parables of instruction for children. In this collection Little Red Riding Hood (The Company of Wolves) is not saved by the woodcutter, but instead tames the beast by getting naked and giving vent to her awakening sexuality. Most of the stories in the collection focus on a girl on the cusp of womanhood, who steps off the path and is rewarded with the discovery of a sexuality that is not repressively phallocentric. Strong female protagonists contrast strongly with fairy tale stereotypes. Carter herself said that she was all for putting new wine in old bottles until the pressure of the new wine caused the old bottles to explode. That's about the best definition I can find for this collection of stories. Sexually provocative, gothic and sometimes very funny (Puss in Boots especially), The Bloody Chamber is a must-read book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical, 17 Jan 2007
A collection of darkly sensual reinterpretations of familiar fairy tales, many with a twist. The most famous short story in this collection is probably A Company of Wolves, which was adapted from Angela Carter's own radio script and was later made into a cult movie (a movie which incidentally remains on my list of favourites). The themes of sexuality and loss of innocence are explored throughout the collection. The stories are collected together because of their umbrella theme, but were not necessarily written at the same time; this is notable because there are actually two versions of Beauty and the Beast in the book, the first of which ("The Courtship of Mister Lyon") is greatly over-shadowed by the superiority of the other ("The Tiger's Bride").

Overall a rewarding collection of magical tales that invokes all those dark archetypes that dwell in your subconcious to leave you feeling uneasy and yet enchanted.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully sensuous fairy tales, 13 May 2006
This review is from: The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories (Vintage Magic) (Paperback)
This book contains a number of re-tellings and re-interpretations of classic fairy-tales. Some - like 'The Bloody Chamber' (Bluebeard) or Puss-in-Boots - are directly linked to one tale, others - like the 'Lady of the House of Love' - are amalgamations of various stories (Sleeping Beauty and the vampire myth) or yet again others ('The Erl-King') seem to have nothing to do with any tale (the story has little to nothing to do with Goethe's poem of the same name).

All of them however are told in a language that shows what you can do with English. The language is sumptuous and sensuous, a feast and delight. Carter is an epicurean with words and feeds them to the reader on a silver plate. She has the knack of finding descriptions that match the mood precisely. A rare artform, now as ever.

The stories themselves are all original and often told with sly humour and innuendo. These are not fairy tales for children, but are adult camera obscuras showing a world fairy tales attempt to paint over, a world of sudden and sharp loss of innocence, a loss inevitable and predictable, but surprising and poignant nevertheless.

A must have [and if you enjoy the book, try the film 'The Company of Wolves' which is based on the story by Carter of the same name].
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than just Gothic Fairytales, 3 Oct 2011
This review is from: The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories (Vintage Magic) (Paperback)
I studied this book for my A levels, and at first I was not impressed. It seemed to be just fairytales with sex added to them, at times, it seemed, just in order to shock the reader. But as I read the book for the second time, and started studying it, I started to apprieciate the language and the beauty and strenght that her tales had. The fascinating was she subverted what you were expecting, how she mixed the expected and the unexpected to make a beautiful tale that left you feeling shaken and unsure.

The stories are based on a range if traditional fairy tales, from Bluebeard,to puss in boots, to several renditions of Beauty and the Beast and red riding hood. Having different versions of the same story in the book, as there is with Beauty and the Beast and Red Riding hood, is especially intresting, It shows how you can take a story and by forcusing on one element you can adapt it in many different ways.

One key theme of the book, is Nature; both outside and human nature, and how they interlink. The Lady of the House of Love, show what happens when you break your nature, when you turn against it and choose a different path, in this case for love. The Erl-King blends the boundrys of human Nature and the wild, The Erl King is almost a personification of the forest itself, wild and seemingly untameable.

Another theme is that of adolescencse and of innocence. Alot of the stories focus on the losing of innocence and the need for this in order to become strong and wise, to become and adult. The first story, the Bloody Chamber, especially, focuses strongly on the lose of innocence in many ways, through sex, betrayal of love, fear and so not only explores the lose of innocence, but also innocence itself and what it means.

A really good book, and one everyone should read wether they are studying it or not. Also extremely useful if you are studying another of Angela Carters books and want to contrast herr short stories to her novels, as they involve a very different writing style.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jewel of my Library, 18 July 2008
By 
VC Cox (Greater Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories (Vintage Magic) (Paperback)
Not for nothing is Angela Carter my favourite author. She was first recommended to me when I was a callow young lass of 17. But it took me a year or two more before I finally got a taste of her work, when we studied one of the stories in this collection (the Werewolf) for a university module.

I was entranced from the very first sentence "It is a northern country; they have cold weather, they have cold hearts." Carter's baroque prose is often akin to lying on velvet and drinking pearls, or sometimes like scraping scraps of bloodied meat from a bone. Dense and flavoursome, her narrative style seems to spring directly from the fantastical worlds it conveys.

The stories here are retellings of familiar (and some less familiar) fairytales. In one sense, they are modernised, but it would perhaps be more correct to say that they in fact strip away the sanitising and tinkering of centuries to get back to the dark, psychological undertones of the stories in their original form.

Wonderfully evocative, these fairytales are certainly not for children, and I can guarantee that you'll never be able to read Little Red Riding Hood or Beauty and the Beast in quite the same way again.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gothic fairy tales, 20 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories (Vintage Magic) (Paperback)
The film 'The Company of Wolves' was based on one of the stories from this collection. The stories are deep, dark, witty, baroque versions of myths and fairy tales. The language is rich and sexy. What more can I say, I love these stories and have returned to them many times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Feminist Classic, 12 Dec 2011
By 
Mr. G. Collins Mrs Collins "language teacher" (Haslemere, Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories (Vintage Magic) (Paperback)
I bought this because I am teaching it for A'level. It is some years since I read any of Carter's work and I had forgotten how much I liked it the first time around.

It hasn't lost its magic. Carter creates a world in which magic seems quite normal, transformations are part of a person's development and we accept the mythical as real.

The title story is genuinely chilling, and her characters are believable so their behaviour does make sense, giving the tale flow and pace.

I have enjoyed rediscovering an author I loved when I was much younger - and finding she still has new delights to offer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dark and beautiful, 5 May 2008
This review is from: The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories (Vintage Magic) (Paperback)
Carter reworks traditional European folk/fairy tales here, exploring their dark and cautionary nature; her stories dig into the darkness of the pre18th/19th centuries tales, as well as mirroring the ones of that time, theres therefore many layers to what she creates, she just adds (in a successful way) to subjects that are already complex. I love how she gives preconceived stories and morals a little twist, giving it new life and making it her own and much more. Her stories are written beautifully, they just flow, catching you up in a wonderfully dark and sensual rhythm that you loose your self in. I suppose what Carter does is make what is simple in the children's fables complicated. In the Bloody Chamber the girl does the sensible thing and it very nearly gets her killed, the `right' choice opens up a new and dangerous world of sex and death. Her characters contrast strongly with fairy tale stereotypes, giving women power in their desires and nature.

In terms of what she looks at: vampires, werewolves, feral children, all are steeped in ambiguity and mystery and are things that are looked at time and time again because authors like Carter understand the potent power they hold and readers like me like to delve into the possibilities that such things hold. If you like these reworking of fairytales I would recommend looking at Marina Warner's writings and Paula Rego's art.
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The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories (Vintage Magic)
The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories (Vintage Magic) by Angela Carter (Paperback - 13 July 1995)
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