The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories

by Angela Carter

Paperback, 1990


Checked out



Penguin Books (1990), Paperback, 128 pages


From familiar fairy tales and legends - Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss in Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires and werewolves - Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.

User reviews

LibraryThing member paradoxosalpha
This collection of Carter's short stories is made up of those which riff on traditional fairy tales and folklore. It includes multiple versions of "Beauty and the Beast" and "Little Red Riding Hood," as well as "Puss in Boots," Bluebeard, and others. The narrative tone ranges from a sort of mid-range erotic storytelling (in the title piece), to pretty hilarious banter ("Puss in Boots," which thanks to the Shrek movies, my mind's ear heard in the voice of Antonio Banderas), to surreal impressionism ("The Erlking").

While these are construed as "adult tales" (and I would certainly hesitate to read them to children), they simply bring an adult perspective to the sort of questions and enigmas that have always lurked in such traditional stories. A few involve a little -- very little -- "updating," in that there is occasionally a telephone mentioned, or some other piece of culture or technology to imply a twentieth-century setting. But on the whole, Carter keeps her subjects in the timeless realms of dream and desire.

Carter's prose is luxuriant, and the brevity of these stories makes them apt bedtime reading from one grownup to another.
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LibraryThing member edwinbcn
In 1977, Angela Carter published a translation of The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault. Each of these translations consisted of short story, 3 - 6 pages, followed by a moral. The most that can be said of this translation is that stylistically it is rather modern, a somewhat unusual feature of fairy tales to readers used to the style of the Brothers Grimm.

It is likely that Angela Carter was inspired by Charles Perrault in the way of dealing with the stories. Contrary to what the Brothers Grimm tried to make people believe, namely that Perrault's fairy tales are authentic representations of European or French Folklore, Charles Perrault had picked up various fairy tales and used them as a basis for his own, quite unique tales which can best be characterised as "works derived from pre-existing folk tales." Perrault rewrote these stories to include elements of then-contemporary French life and fashion, to reshape the tales into stories which would appeal to French aristocratic readership.

Likewise, Angela Carter has rewritten the fairy tales, including elements of modern, late Twentieth Century life and fashion, to reshape Perrault's fairy tales into stories which appeal to contemporary readership. This has resulted in very elaborate, stylistically baroque works, stories which are clearly based on the fairy tales, but have none of the feel of juvenile literature that so many simple, short fairy tales have. They are, one could say, fairy tales "for adults", largely teaching readers the same lessons or morals, but in stories which can be enjoyed at a much higher level.

Particularly, the story of Bluebeard, in this collection renamed The bloody chamber has been reworked into a long (40 pages) artistic story, with elaborate descriptions of scenery, fabrics and couleur locale , in a very baroque, and verbose style of descriptions. Another story from the Perrault collection is Puss-in-Boots, which takes quite a different turn. The other stories, are derived from other well-known fairy tales such as "The Courtship of Mr Lyon", "The Tiger's Bride" and "The Erl-King."

It is hard to imagine any readers not familiar with at least half of the fairy tales which form the basis of these short stories. However, no reader will feel bored, more likely refreshed by Angela Carter's unique approach to these tales.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
Taking some very well known fairy tales and legends, Angela Carter tweaked and twisted them into her collection entitled [The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories]. I was quite taken with this collection finding something to admire in just about every story. These tales are often described as “feminist‘ in nature” and, if by that, they mean stories of the female as aggressor and males as victims then, yes, that is partially true. But first and foremost what I loved about these stories was the writing. Beautiful, detailed description along with her earthy and sensuous language created an alluring, hypnotic walk on the dark side.

These are not stories to read to young children, these are stories meant for adults and as such explore some sexual elements along with the violence and magic. Some of the tales like “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon”, a version of the Beauty and the Beast are very close to the familiar tale. But then there are the ones like “The Lady of the House of Love” that blends the vampire legend with the story of Sleeping Beauty. This was my favorite of the collection, it quite simply held me enthralled. “Her teeth and claws have been sharpened on centuries of corpses, she is the last bud of the poison tree that sprang from the loins of Vlad the Impaler who picnicked on corpses in the forests of Transylvania.”

These stories were my introduction to Angela Carter and I am now on a mission to track down more by this author who in turn both beguiled and unnerved me with this collection.
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LibraryThing member EJAYS17
Another challenge book bites the dust! This time it's British author Angela Carter's collection of adult fairy tales.

There are 10 stories collected in The Bloody Chamber. They sometimes do the same tale more than once. I'll try to cover them as best I can in this review.

The Bloody Chamber, the title story is a retelling of the Bluebeard legend from his final bride's point of view. She manages to find out what he's done and although unable to escape the serial wife murderer, her spirited mother comes to the rescue.

The Courtship of Mr Lyon, this is the first of 2 retellings of the Beauty and the Beast legend. This one is very similar to the original and has a rather sad ending, although it isn't as violent as some of Carter's other retellings in this collection. I confess to particularly liking the faithful King Charles spaniel.

The Tiger's Bride, the second of the Beauty and the Beast stories. This explores a theme that crops up regularly in these stories of Carter's, that of shapeshifting. The ending was unseen and rather haunting.

Puss-in-Boots, the title is a reimagining of the identically titled fairy tale. It's uncharacteristically humourous and that was Carter's intent with this, to write an out and out funny story. She succeeded admirably.

The Erl-King. Not many people have heard of the Erl-King these days. My mother committed a poem about the malignant, life stealing forest spirit to memory, so I was aware of the legend. The character was also used as the basis for a Buffy episode. Carter's Erl-King is also a life stealer, but he appears to be a shape shifter as well.

The Snow Child, a very brief Snow White story. It was based on an obscure version that the Brothers Grimm collected, but never published. You'll realise why if you read it.

The Lady of the House of Love, this wasn't actually based on a fairy tale as such, it's about a vampiress, one of the descendants of Vlad the Impaler. It is characteristically bleak, but it does contain one of the best and what I see as truest descriptions of a vampire. This one doesn't sparkle.

The Werewolf, the first of 3 Little Red Riding Hood stories, all which feature werewolves. I'd never actually made the connection before, although thinking about it, it's fairly obvious. In this Granny is far from the put upon old woman preyed upon by a wolf.

The Company of Wolves, film maker Neil Jordan expanded on this and made it into a film. While there is a retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story a good half of it is spent with other werewolf stories.

Wolf-Alice, the final story in the collection is another werwolf tale. I couldn't see any real connection with the Red Riding Hood story here, it was mostly about a girl who believes herself to be a wolf.

There's not a lot of narrative substance to most of the stories and it's fairly easy to pick what fairy tale they've targeted. Carter doesn't really develop her characters much either, not unusual when working with such limited space as a short story, what she does do is paint a picture with words. Her command of language and description is extraordinary, she uses a world of words and catches you up in her sensual imagery. A few themes are explored. I've mentioned a seeming fascination with shape shifting or the ability to hide one's true nature from the world outside. The subject of female subjugation comes up, for instance both of the Beauty characters are effectively sold into marriage with the Beast, one for a rose her father stole and the other was lost in a game of cards. The females in those stories generally use their very femininity as a weapon against the men who have taken possession of them, virginity is greatly prized. There's a regular mention of the colour red and of blood, especially it's appearance on snow, virginity, the first bleeding and women's menstruation are also often alluded to.

It's a fascinating look at some well known fairy tales and really gives them a different feel. Despite it's brevity it is not an easy read and will make you think.

More adult retellings of these old stories are very popular right now. I haven't read a lot of these, but I can recommend some of Robin McKinley's work, especially Beauty, which fits in well with The Bloody Chamber collection, Jane Yolen's Briar Rose, a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty legend with a Holocaust victim. There's also the comic Fables, which as the title suggests puts a very different spin on legends and fairy tales, the Fables companion book 1001 Nights of Snowfall, which investigates the old stories is particularly recommended, especially their look at the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
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LibraryThing member lkernagh
First published back in 1979, this short story collection consists of 10 stories that are based upon and variations of fairy tales and folklore, in particular the stories of Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast, Puss and Boots and Little Red Riding Hood as well as the folktales of Erlking and The Snow-child. Carter has been quoted as stating that: "My intention was not to do 'versions' or, as the American edition of the book said, horribly, 'adult' fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from the traditional stories." Some have categorized these stories as fairy tales with a subversive feminist twist, which I do not agree with. Adult stories these definitely are, but a feminist angle is not the predominant focus of these stories, although Carter did manage to bring up the concept of a 'virgin' in every single story. Some stories are more Gothic in nature than others, some more horrific and yes, these stories do have a theme of sex and violence that will probably offend some readers. I love how Carter took her skill with the written word - the prose is breathtakingly beautiful and wonderfully descriptive! - to create different stories, with different outcomes, based upon a given premise. Quick snapshots of the various stories in this collection are listed below:

The Bloody Chamber - A very 'sensory' and well written Gothic horror, with everything revolving around feelings and sensory perception.

The Courtship of Mr. Lyon - A rich,cleaner retelling of The Beauty and The Beast as a showcase to display the differences between opulence of environment (beautiful material things) and that of the non-material bonds between individuals.

The Tiger's Bride - A more introspective take on The Beauty and The Beast, which I preferred over the more opulent fairy tale style of The Courtship of Mr. Lyon.

Puss-in-Boots - Carter's more playful side emerges here with a fun, Three Musketeers-styled take on Puss in Boots as told by Puss, a.k.a Figaro.

The Erl-King - I like the idea of malevolent creature (Erlking) who haunts forests and carries off travelers to their deaths and enjoyed Carter's take on the erl-King as a haunting presence in the forests like the selkies or sirens of northern sea-based country tales.

The Snow Child - This story, which appears to be a twisted take on a bitter an unsatisfied marriage left me thinking "Eeew"! It is my least favorite of all the stories but it has peaked my interest in reading Eowyn Ivey's [The Snow Child], which I believe to be based on the same style of folklore.

The Lady of the House of Love came across as a vampire story with a Miss Havisham twist to it.

The Werewolf - Is a great twist on the Red Riding Hood tale and actually sent a shiver down my spine.

The Company of Wolves - Really just another take on the Red Riding Hood theme. Interesting.

Wolf-Alice - This is my favorite story in the collection. I love how Carter works the self-awareness development of an otherwise feral child into this one. Apparently it is supposed to be another variant on the Red Riding Hood theme, o it must be based on a more obscure version of the tale.

Overall, an interesting and very well written collection of erotic, bawdy and in some instances, sado-masochistic and subversive takes on traditional fairy tales and folklore. Well worth the read, if for the beautiful prose alone!
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LibraryThing member adammademe
I love me some fucked up fairy tails. Except for the lamentably poor (and over-long) Puss-n-Boots, this collection is fantastic. Her short shorts are especially visceral.
LibraryThing member kant1066
I usually don’t prefer the short story as a literary form, but I was in the mood for something whimsical and mercurial, so I thought these self-described fairy tales would do the trick. And they did. “The Bloody Chamber” is a collection of ten stories, all based around the fairy tales that we read (or should have read) as a child, including Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast, Puss-in-Boots, Snow White, and Little Red Riding Hood. Most of them are very short, while one (the eponymous story) is about forty pages long. All of these are taken from the original source in the seventeenth-century writer Charles Perrault, whom Carter translated from the French.

Of course, it can be magical to go back and read stories that you haven’t read in decades, and that is a small part of this book’s charm. But for me, the greatest part of the book was the language. It is grandiloquent, rococo, big, and coruscating. It’s the kind of language that is right at home in fairy tales, and I felt this from the first sentence of the first story: “I remember how, that night, I lay awake in the wagon-lit in a tender, delicious ecstasy of excitement, my burning cheek pressed against the impeccable linen of the pillow and the pounding of my heart mimicking that of the great pistons ceaselessly thrusting the train that bore me through the night, away from Paris, away from girlhood, away from the white, enclosed quietude of my mother's apartment, into the unguessable country of marriage.”

And the thunderously operatic opening that describes the swashbuckling Puss-in-Boots: “Figaro here; Figaro, there, I tell you! Figaro upstairs, Figaro downstairs and – oh, my goodness me, this little Figaro can slip into my lady’s chamber smart as you like at any time whatsoever that he takes the fancy for, don’t you know, he’s a cat of the world, cosmopolitan, sophisticated; he can tell when a furry friend is the Missus’ best company. For what lady in all the world could say ‘no’ to the passionate yet toujours advances of a fine marmalade cat?” How can you read sentences like that and not be sucked in with a naïve child-like sense of expectation?

Two things to note: as other reviewers have said, even though I read most of these back-to-back, they might be best spread out over several days. The next time I read them, I’ll know to savor them instead; they’re simply too full of imagination to read all at one sitting. Also, several people have mentioned (sometimes approvingly, sometimes not) Carter’s “feminism.” This isn’t the postmodern French feminism that I could understand someone disliking. It is only a smart, humorous, introspective look at the inner lives and concerns of girls and young women. I thought it a much-wanted counterpoint to the inner lives of boys that we see in a lot of similar literature. In fact, I think many of them would make fantastic bedtime stories. To read these stories is to love them.
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LibraryThing member iron_queen
A short but enjoyable collection of short stories exploring "beast" feminism in the form of classic fairy tales. While I hesitate to call myself a feminist, I am a big believer in the validity of sexual hunger in women, not just the romantic yearning for a husband and children. Carter explores this theme in deep linguistic shades of black and red, with vivid and luscious, if violent, imagery. It was a treat to read such delicious works of fiction that both spoke to me and excited my love of fairy tales.… (more)
LibraryThing member LittleRaven
The prose is clear and often seductive. It's intelligent, sharp, funny, romantic, and dark.
LibraryThing member ChicGeekGirl21
Bizarre, feminist takes on classic fairy tales.
LibraryThing member veevoxvoom
In The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter takes a handful of fairy tales and rewrites them. From the eponymous tale of Bluebeard to the chilling fable of Snow White to the rollicking hijinks of Puss-in-Boots, Carter’s renditions of classic stories breathes dark, sensual, baroque life.

Most of these stories aren’t original retellings. That is, they don’t add any new twist to the tale that will shock you. Quite a few of the stories simply transplant the settings and one or two details. With that said, I enjoyed this anthology anyway, because even if she’s only retelling the stories, Angela Carter does it in a language that is magical. Her powers of description are immense and her metaphors stayed with me hours after I finished reading the book. My favourites were “The Bloody Chamber” because Bluebeard has always been my favourite fairy tale, but I also really liked the short blasting power of “The Snow Child.”

If you have no interest in fairy tales, I’m not sure if you will enjoy this book. But if you’re a fan, or if you’re curious to see the lushness behind many Disney-fied stories, Angela Carter is for you.
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LibraryThing member devenish
Ten adult adaptations of fairy stories. These are most certainly not for the easily shocked. The title story 'The Bloody Chamber' is a retelling of the Bluebeard myth and is chilling indeed.'The Courtship of Mr Lyon' puts both Beauty and the Beast in a new light. 'The Lady of the House of Love' is a Vampire tale told from a completely different angle from the usual.'The Werewolf',although only two pages long,is a little gem,telling of Red Riding Hood and the Wolf,but yet again the well-known story is turned on its head.So all of these tales are full of horror told in Carter's very own unique style.… (more)
LibraryThing member Nickelini
The Bloody Chamber is a collection of short stories that are all inspired by fairy tales. They all have a distinctly adult and very dark side to them. Sounds like something I'd like, but alas, I didn't. Carter writes many stunningly beautiful sentences and has an exquisite gift for imagery. Unfortunately, I didn't find the sentences worked when placed together. The parts did not make a whole. I find quite often that retellings of myths and fairy tales have a distant, distracted tone to them that just doesn't do it for me.

Recommended for: people who like new twists on fairy tales.
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LibraryThing member TheAmpersand
Ian McEwan's cover blurb for my edition of "The Bloody Chamber" calls the stories it contains "magnificent set pieces of fastidious sexuality," and I think that he gets it right. There's a wonderfully creepy music-box quality to many of these stories; Carter's prose is beautifully crafted and simultaneously chilly and sensual. In a way, much of "The Bloody Chamber" could be called -- or even criticized for being -- antique wealth porn. These stories' settings are filled with the delicate, opulent finery of the nineteenth century, and this often makes them seem as severe and and forbidding as they are inviting. I don't mean to suggest that the author ignores the psychological aspects of her characters' experience; she seems to know just how to leverage the fear that children often derive from fairy tales into absolutely exquisite erotic tension. "The Bloody Chamber" is only a hundred and fifty pages long, but I wanted to read it very slowly. This one is worth savoring.

Even so, I'm not sure that all of these stories are entirely successful, though a couple, such as "Wolf-Alice," do get it just right. Lots of familiar fairy tale archetypes and characters make appearances here, and Carter does a good job of translating their fears and wishes to more adult situations, but I'm not sure that the stories themselves are as good, or as memorable, as the originals. This can't be helped, I suppose, and might be problem common to all reconfigured fantasy stories. The originals work because, as per Brunno Bettelheim, they've been shaped by endless retellings over a period of centuries and are now perfectly suited to the fulfillment our unconscious psychological needs. I'm not sure if the storytelling prowess of any modern writer, even one as good as Angela Carter, can match that. So much here feels well done but out of place, though I admit that the originals do have the advantage of familiarity. Maybe it just takes a few rereadings of these stories to fully internalize their peculiar logic. Anyway, I have a feeling that I'll be revisiting "The Bloody Chamber" on a regular basis for a long time to come.
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LibraryThing member the_awesome_opossum
The short stories in The Bloody Chamber are a combination of reinterpreted fairy tales and original short stories with a gothic fairy tale motif. Carter's language and imagery is dark and sensual, a breakdown of the typical "hero(ine) versus villain." Instead, moralities mingle, sometimes the dark side is the more alluring one, and the good guy doesn't always save the day. It's a challenge to oversimplified and moral fairy tales, leading the reader into a more complex and compelling fantasy world.… (more)
LibraryThing member kraaivrouw
A feminist retelling of familiar fairy tales - I liked this, but I didn't love it and it feels unnecessary somehow. Anyone who has read the unsanitized versions of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen and even Andrew Lang's color-coded fairy tale books knows that fairy tales aren't pretty. They occur in dark and glorious places filled with danger and people who mean you no good.

This collection of stories also suffers from being essentially the same story, told and re-told, which might work as a literary device for a collection and an overarching metaphor for the author's view on the endangered woman in our stories, but doesn't work for me within this context.

This also suffers in comparison to The Path, an amazing adventure game by Tale of Tales that draws from various version of Little Red Riding Hood and puts you in the loosely drawn center of danger. The game is far from linear, functions less as a video game and more as a linked series of impressions and expertly uses its form to elucidate the story. Yes, read this, but play that to learn something more about storytelling and fairy tales.
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LibraryThing member iayork
Angela Carter - The Bloody Chamber: A very good collection of short stories.
We had to read this for our English Literature course and I'm very glad I did. Carter is a very talented writer and this book deserves the recognition and awards it got.
The best stories to watch out for are;

The Bloody Chamber,
The Tiger's Bride
The Snow Child
The Werewolf

Carter's language is very elaborate, so if you're going to read it, do as my English tutor said; "Read actively. Have a pen in your hand and a dictionary next to you". Trust me, she was right.
A very good read if you can understand what is going on. All the stories are based on old fairytales (i.e. The Tiger's Bride is based on Beauty and The Beast) so if you can work out how the story is similar and find links you should be able to appreciate the stories.
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LibraryThing member steller0707
Here is Angela Carter's feminist take on fairy tales. Macabre? Yes! But so are the original tales.

Carter's writing is perfect, evoking just the right mood for the spooky, yet making the fantastic seem real. You can catch elements of Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Little Red Riding Hood, albeit with some role reversals. Puss in Boots plays his tricks in a bawdy tale. Werewolves and a vampire make an appearance.

There are ten stories in this volume. Outstanding to me are The Bloody Chamber, Puss in Boots, The Erlking and The Company of Wolves.
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LibraryThing member g026r
The prose was far too ornate and, dare I say it, purple for my tastes.

While I'm certainly not one to generally complain about slow moving, there comes a point when my eyes glaze over and I start thinking "enough with the descriptions already, can we have some sort of plot soon?"
LibraryThing member AltheaAnn
I debated giving this five stars. I love retellings of traditional tales, and these are indeed excellent.
However, having recently re-read Tanith Lee's similar collection (Red As Blood), I realize that I personally somewhat prefer Lee's take.

Carter has apparently stated that her intention here was not so much to "re-tell" the story, but to "to extract the latent content from the traditional stories." Probably because of that, there are a great number of rather vague (if not innocent) maidens here, to whom things happen, or who do things without seemingly actively considering their actions. In most of these stories, a woman finds herself in a difficult position, which then must be resolved. Often, it is resolved in an extreme or ethically ambiguous manner, sometimes resulting in a happy ending, sometimes tragic, but the reader doesn't see a moment of struggle or decision, the result simply seems to happen.
It's interesting, because it actually points out how common it has become for retellings to insist that their female characters be feisty heroines, and reminds a reader that there is a lot of power in a tale where the things that happen are beyond a character's control.

This was the first work I'd read by Carter, with the exceptions of a few short pieces in anthologies, and I've already ordered another of her books.
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LibraryThing member cbl_tn
This collection of short stories grounded in fairy tale and myth is both repellant and oddly fascinating. The horror they evoke is possibly closer to the mood engendered by fairy tales and myths in earlier centuries. They weren't like Disney movies. They're filled with ogres, witches who eat children, wolves who eat children, evil spells, and other frightening creatures. Carter's interpretation includes graphic sexual elements. While I could appreciate the outstanding quality of Carter's writing, the graphic elements exceeded my comfort zone.

My pick from the collection is “The Lady of the House of Love”, a story incorporating vampire lore. Its commentary on the First World War resonated with me because of my emphasis on World War I in last year's reading list.
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LibraryThing member jonfaith
The wolfsong is the sound of the rending you will suffer, in itself a murdering.

As a rule I don't care for folklore. I also maintain a historical aversion to short stories. What a joy it is then to proclaim my love for these macabre tales of hymens, fogged mirrors, and the gasps of lusts and bloodletting. Ms. Carter's tales are fevered variations on nursery rhymes: Bluebeard, Red Riding Hood Lycanthropes and wee wicked Alice dart from the shadows and dazzle the reader.… (more)
LibraryThing member caerulius
Quite possibly my favorite of Carter's works. The Bloody Chamber is dark, gorgeous and almost deSadean in its subversion of the traditional fairy tale.
Stories include treatments of Bluebeard (in the title story), Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Puss in Boots, a vampiric Sleeping Beauty and no fewer than 3 tales inspired by Red Riding Hood, one of which "The Company of Wolves" was the basis for the independent film of the same name, the screenplay of which was also penned by the illustrious Ms. Carter.… (more)
LibraryThing member whitewavedarling
I read the title story of this book years ago, but after having heard much about it, the story left such a sour taste in my mouth that I put aside the collection and only finally came back to it in the last few days, having heard from other readers that the title story was a least favorite within the work. And, in the end, having finally finished all the stories, I have mixed feelings.

"The Bloody Chamber" is among a number of the stories that are extremely heavy-handed in a re-writing fairy tales with a feminist perspective and language that highlights--sometimes to an absurd degree--the roles women can find themselves in in relation to men. For me, though, part of the beauty of fairy tales is an other-worldliness, and a leaving behind of heavy-handed socio-political thought or contemporary worries. In too many of the stories, the fairy tales are rewritten, it seems, to make women good and men bad, women smart and men, at best, dull and fumbling. The heavy-handedness of it all, and the one-sidedness, was both frustrating and tiring.

Still, there are other stories where Carter's rich language and opulent settings shine through with an inspiration to not just re-write fairy tales, but fully re-envision them. In many cases, these other tales felt unfinished in the end (as if Carter grew bored with them and rushed them to a close), but were beautiful and well worth the time while they lasted.

Simply, I often felt that the ideology and goals overpowered what inspiration there was, and that this collection is famous more for its careful feminist re-writing than anything else. Often, it is heavy-handed, but it is also a different spin on fairy tales that I've no doubt will be of interest to many. To my eye, the story that shines out most (primarily for its language, I admit, as opposed to the story) is "Puss-n-Boots", with "The Tiger's Bride" being a close second.

If you are interested in fairy tales, you probably should at least look into this collection, but plan to treasure it for the language, or for the marriage of ideology with classic fairy tales--not renewed or renewing inspiration, unfortunately.
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LibraryThing member Kplatypus
The Bloody Chamber was recommended by a friend of mine upon my mentioning that I sometimes enjoy retellings of classic fairy tales. It's a collection of short stories, retold in a number of ways- some change the historical setting of the stories, such as in the titular story, while others change the moral of the story, such as in "The Werewolf." Some were easily recognizable- "The Bloody Chamber" is clearly a revision of Bluebeard- while others weren't as clear to me- some, like "the Erl-King" and "The Tiger's Bride" were completely new to me, though I assume some of that is simply caused by a lack of familiarity with some fairy tales. Although the stories in The Bloody Chamber are more explicit and sometimes more gruesome than the versions that most Americans are familiar with (see Disney versions), they were pretty much on par with the more traditional versions in that respect (see original Brothers Grimm versions). The back of the book refers to the sensuality of the stories repeatedly and, in several reviews, the feminist aspect- neither one was particularly apparent to me, which I consider a good thing. These were neither particularly feminist, unlike some more self-concious retellings, nor "sensual," which I find too often means that the author has introduced sexuality into inappropriate places. Some of the stories did give the female characters more active roles, and some did involve sex, or sexuality, so in a very literal sense they may be feminist and sensual- I just want to separate the unfortunate connotations that these terms often have from these stories. Some of the stories were excellent- I especially recommend "The Bloody Chamber," "The Tiger's Bride," and "Wolf-Alice"- while others were only acceptable- "Puss-in-Boots," for example, was cute but not particularly amazing. Thumbs up for the writing style, which is descriptive without being verbose, and precise without being confusing, brusque, or hard to follow.… (more)


Original publication date


Physical description

128 p.; 5.11 inches


0143107615 / 9780143107613

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