The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter (review by Andrew R. ’17)

The Bloody Chamber and Other StoriesThe Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It won’t take the reader long to realize that the stories in The Bloody Chamber, the most famous book by the late British master Angela Carter, seem strangely familiar. In fact, each of the ten pieces in this collection is a direct descendent of a well-known fairy tale. “The Company of Wolves,” for instance, in which a vulnerable young girl travels alone through a wood infested with monstrous wolves, brings “Little Red Riding Hood” irresistibly to mind; and the lovers at the center of “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon” clearly represent Beauty and the Beast. Carter is much too canny a writer to freshen up these worn-out fairy tale narratives by changing the plot: none of the stories is given a modern setting, at least not overtly, and many end with “happily ever afters” if the original versions require it. What sets the stories in The Bloody Chamber apart from the tales that inspired them is a subtler kind of magic. Carter weaves a spell with her dispassionate, often slightly ironic narrative voice, which heightens the qualities of the original fairy tales—particularly their undertones of violence and sexuality—to make familiar narratives seem suddenly oppressive and strange. In Carter’s hands, even a tale ending “happily ever after” isn’t for the faint of heart. – Andrew R. ’17

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