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on 3 March 2018
I feel like I am very late to the party having only just discovered Angela Carter but in case I’m not here is my review of The Bloody Chamber.
Firstly, wow! The writing in this book is incredible. Here is a brief extract to show you what I mean:
“When they saw the white bride leap out of the tombstones and scamper off toward the castle with the werewolf stumbling after, the peasants thought the Duke’s dearest victim had come back to take matters into her own hands. They ran screaming from the presence of a ghostly vengeance on him. Poor, wounded thing.”
Powerful stuff in just a few short lines. Angela Carter has a really unique writing style that makes the words appear both like a great literature piece that you feel smart reading and at the same time quite humble and absorbing so that the stories are approachable to the everyday reader.
Anyway, back to the book itself. It is split into ten short stories. Several of these are re-tellings of recognised classics. If anyone has ever read the “original” Grimm stories (for example in the original Grimm version Cinderella’s sisters cut off their toes to try to make them fit the slipper), Carters tales are like this only much much darker. The Snow Child (re-telling of Snow White) was particularly shocking and striking and stuck with me long after I finished the book (not quite giving me nightmares, but not far from it).
I know this isn’t a part of a normal review (never judge a book by its cover and all that) but I must add the cover of this book is particularly beautiful. It feels like an old-fashioned storybook and the black and red imagery really draw the eye.
If you are intrigued by all the hype around Angela Carter then this really is a fantastic book to get you going. Although not for the faint-hearted. This really is a smart, intriguing and beguiling collection of stories.
Enjoy! :)
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on 16 February 2017
This Collection is an intriguing twist on the fantasy genre. It contains one of my favourite short stories: 'The lady of the house of love' which beautifully subverts the traditional expectations of a vampire story. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in horror or fantasy and looking for something with a fresh point of view.
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on 29 January 2013
Firstly, I don't usually do lots of short stories or anthologies of any kind, but I had to read this one for school and surprise me it did. I enjoyed it immensely with its dark, twisted take on the fairy tales meaning Carter makes something very unique.

The collection is made up of The Bloody Chamber, The Courtship of Mr Lyon, The Tiger's Bride, Puss-In-Boots, The Erl-King, The Snow Child, The Lady of The House of Love, The Werewolf, The Company of Wolves and Wolf-Alice.

One thing to be highly aware of throughout all the short stories is that they are highly explicit on sexual and violent terms.

Here are a selection of short reviews for a few of the short stories within.

The Bloody Chamber

`The Bloody Chamber' was probably my least favourite of the short stories that make up Carter's short stories even though it's the title and the first one. It's a modern retelling of Bluebeard which I honestly didn't know anything about before picking up `The Bloody Chamber' is interesting to say the least.

However I found its protagonist weak and naive and very much deluded and she frustrated me. She depended upon other people to save her and whilst this is all part of the meanings behind `The Bloody Chamber' I wanted to throw something at the girl.

"Then, slowly yet teasingly, as if he were giving a child a great, mysterious treat,"

The plot is engaging and I found it slightly disturbing but all the little foreshadowing moments and twists and turns kept the pace moving.

The Marquis is a despicable man and he's truly wicked. He's the embodiment of a villain and a cradle snatcher. There is nothing to like about the man and he's probably the main reason I didn't appreciate `The Bloody Chamber' as a short story.

"He was older than I. He was much older than I; there were streaks of pure silver in his dark mane. But his strange, heavy, almost waxen face was not lined by experience."

The Tiger's Bride

Without a doubt, this was my favourite story of the selections. This is an adaption of Beauty and the Beast and the better of the two that Carter attempted. The other one, The Courtship of Mr Lyon wasn't nearly as engaging.

Carter looks at a Beast as a Lord and whether he's human or animal and I found this really interesting and the whole dynamic of his character was exciting. It was added to by his servant who is supposed to be an animal too that I didn't quite pick up on in my first reading and this contrast between humans and animals is interesting.

"And then he moved; he buried his cardboard carnival head with its ribboned weight of false hair in, I would say, his arms; he withdrew his, I might say hands from his sleeves and I saw his furred pads, his excoriating claws."

I liked Belle as a character. She wasn't very strong to start with, but she built herself up as a character and she was pretty smart. I liked her ability to think on her feet and move with the direction of the novel rather than oppose it.

Puss-in-Boots

`Puss-in-Boots' probably doesn't require a genius to figure out what it's a retelling off. I found this one to be more humorous and entertaining than Carter's other additions to the stories because it wasn't quite as dark and twisted and it made a refreshing addition to the collection with something a little different.

Puss was quite the enigmatic character and I took a shinning to him immediately. He was clever and oozing charm, especially around the lady felines, but that only added to his character to make him entertaining.

"So Puss got his post at the same time as his boots and I dare say the Master and I have much in common for he's proud as the devil, touchy as tin-tacks, lecherous as liquorice and, though I say it as loves him, as quick-witted a rascal as ever put on clean linen."

Overall, I really enjoyed `Puss-in-Boots' more for Puss as a character than his master who was a little foolish and blinded by love, but the extravagance of that made it all the more amusing.

The Company of Wolves

This makes for an interesting read as a modern adaption to Little Red Riding Hood because this Little Red Riding Hood is incredibly far from the version I remember as a child so it may very well change your opinion entirely on Little Red Riding Hood, be warned!

Carter gathers together lots of mythology about wolves and tales and uses them as a warning from the Grandmother who is an old crone. I didn't like her one bit and I was glad we got her out of the way. That sounds really mean, but she isn't a character you can like.

"There is no winter's night the cottager does not fear to see a lean, grey, famished snout questing under the door, and there was a woman once bitten in her own kitchen as she was straining the macaroni."

Little Red Riding Hood isn't silly or naive, but she uses her brain and other parts of herself to get what she wants and to secure her safety and you can clearly see the wave of feminism that Carter was writing through coming out in `The Company of Wolves' in embracing freedom and sexuality and it's something I quite liked.

I liked the werewolf aspect to `The Company of Wolves' and all the elements of wolves and magic. The film however is rather dire, they use great big Alsatians and German Shepards to play wolves so it doesn't quite reflect the wolves as it could and things change a little, so if you've seen the film which is humorous for how bad it is, then do read the short story because it's so much better!

Do be aware that Carter likes to take things overboard and it makes for an interesting read to say the least!

"She stands and moves within the invisible pentacle of her own virginity. She is an unbroken egg; she is a sealed vessel; she has inside her a magic space the entrance to which is shut tight with a plug of membrane; she is a closed system; she does not know how to shiver. She has her knife and she is afraid of nothing."

Be warned, stepping into the world of Carter is entering a completely different realm! So beware.
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on 22 February 2014
I first read this book many years ago when it was a ground-breaking re-telling of several fairy stories, focusing on their dark underbelly. It still has huge impact - well-written insights into the female psyche and riveting developments of familiar stories. I've recently read 'Women who Run with the Wolves' by Clarissa Pinkola Estes which is a fairly heavy analysis of the creativity and instincts of women. I had to take time over this book because it is filled with such depth of insight, but found it fascinating. Together - wow! But Carter's book short-cuts the intellect and goes straight to the emotions. Read Estes' chapter on Bluebeard and follow with Carter's stories on the same theme for a reading experience that will change your perceptions about people and how they are exploited. I await the moment when someone writes a story with Bluebeard as the alluring woman ... !
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VINE VOICEon 27 February 2011
This book has been on my shelf for a while waiting to be read, but I have always found a reason to read something else instead. Recently I friend recommended independently and I remembered it. I picked it up and a few breathless hours later had finished it.

A collection of short stories that are linked thematically and have common threads that run between them, The Bloody Chamber has been described as a re-imagining of classic fairy tales with a feminist slant. But they are so much more than that. The stories throughout go back to the original purpose of fairy tales and rather than rewriting fairy tales in a modern manner Carter has returned to their original dark roots and weaved in modern concerns.

They are dark and erotic and often very disturbing. Familiar tropes are there, werewolves and hidden rooms and beauty and the beast, but there is a real sense of malicious glee in the writing. These are not the anodyne tales of our childhood, they are wild and imaginative.

Much is made of Carter's writing style, but the truth is her writing varies wildly throughout the collection, the title story is reminiscent of Poe, Company of Wolves is oblique and teasing, whereas Puss in Boots strays close to bawdy farce.

Familiar as these tales may be, they are not the fairy tales we know from our childhood. They are new ones, taking old stories as a starting point and creating something new and exciting from them.
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on 27 August 2017
These gothic tales are written in language so rich - with swollen sentences up to ten lines long - that reading them is like eating a whole Christmas pudding in one go. At first intriguing - for they are like nothing else I have read - they soon become difficult and tiresome. I can appreciate that Angela Carter is attempting to create a collection of writing that stays with the reader in the manner of great Art. Ultimately, however, the stories, for me, fail to provide anything to resonate with either my emotions or my thinking.
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on 31 May 2018
I love fairy tales - I have ever since I was a child, especially for their dark, and frightening undertones. This is a book of fairytales for adults and it’s incredibly good. I loved the retelling of a few favourites and the introduction of a few stories I’d never heard before that were captivating. An excellent book for anyone who loves things that go bump in the night and Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson.
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on 28 December 2015
I don't normally buy books because I know I don't reread them. However this was a different story this book i just love very much and had to buy.In these stories s*** escalates fast. She takes these namesake characters that we associate with these sweet fairy tales from our childhood and she just puts them in such compromising storylines that are rather dark and unique. This book i had to really engage my mind to when i was reading because if you so much as stop paying attention to a little part you will be severely confused you've got to keep up and i just loved how challenging it was. Angela carter hats off to that lady she is clever and good. Easily, a timeless classic for sure i see myself picking this up a lot.
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on 7 April 2013
We all had to buy this for our English Lit A-levels. I did not know anything about Angela Carter at this point (being the brilliant English student I am :P )
I love this book! A compilation of short stories based on original fairy-tales, with more feminist and deliciously gothic twists. Carter's descriptive imagery is pure gold! I felt I could really visualise what she was talking about.

Some people in my class did not like her stories, mainly because of the peculiar way she writes which truly is indescribable. If I could I would tell you about her writing style but it's difficult. Unique and strangely abstract at times.

I am now eager to read her other works now!
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on 17 August 2014
Angela Carter is a brilliant writer whom some feminists claim as one of their own while others disown her. This gives you the clue to her individuality. In these short stories, which are highly reminiscent of well known fairy tales, Carter examines the boundaries between the animal and the human, tove and lust, good and evil. Talking cats, wearwolf girls and other magical creatures inhabit these intensely interesting and essentially moralistic tales.
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