From “The Bloody Chamber”: 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. 

The Bloody Chamber is a deliciously dark little volume of fairy tales by the famed Angela Carter. I loved some of them more than others, but the majority of the stories are really good. In a morbid sort of way. Some, like the title story, are disturbingly bloody, others, like “Puss-In-Boots” are bawdily funny. “The Bloody Chamber” is a retelling of Bluebeard, and this book also includes “The Courtship of Mr Lyon”, a Beauty and the Beast retelling, “The Tiger’s Bride”, also a Beauty and the Beast retelling, “Puss-In-Boots”, “The Erl-King”, “The Snow Child”, “The Lady of the House of Love” which is a vampire story, “The Werewolf”, “The Company of Wolves”, and “Wolf-Alice”. My favorites are the first five or so; they’re more entertaining and less completely dark (except for “The Bloody Chamber”, of course).

These stories are populated by beasts, and vampires, and werewolves, and witches, dark and gripping, and dark and grim. Angela Carter has a really distinctive writing style; it’s sensual and descriptive, dense but somehow not overwritten. But also, each story has its own tone. “The Bloody Chamber” is descriptive and horrifying, “Puss-In-Boots” is narrated by the rascally cat himself, and both Beauty and the Beast stories are quite different too. “The Tiger’s Bride”, though similar in title to one of my favorite books, The Tiger’s Wife, is not at all like the latter book. The “Beauty” character is gambled away by her father to a mysterious masked lord.

I love dark fairy tales, and of the various collections I’ve read (My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, The Rose and the Beast, Lies Knives and Girls in Red Dresses, etc), The Bloody Chamber is by far the best of these books. It also the most deeply and chillingly dark, to the core.

One note on the edition I read: it’s from Penguin, a special Penguin Ink edition, and it’s marvelously beautiful, in the style of the Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions, though it’s not a classic…yet. I loved the art and the feel of the cover and the font in this book. It’s the kind of design that you never get tired of looking at and feeling. I really want to own this book now, not only for the amazing quality of its stories, but also for its design (cover on right). I also really want to read Nights at the Circus, another of Angela Carter’s works. Hint hint.

Read The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories:

  • if you like dark fairy tales
  • if you like Angela Carter
  • if you like dark fantasy 

162 pages.

 
Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!
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