Nenia Campbell's Reviews > The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
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's review
Mar 06, 14

bookshelves: x-1970s, litry-fiction, fairytale-retelling
Read in January, 2011

My favorite short story in this anthology was probably "The Bloody Chamber," a modernization of Bluebeard. If you aren't familiar with this fairytale then I won't spoil it for you, but if you are, then you'll be pleased to know that Angela Carter stays true to the timeless, sinister foreshadowing of the original, even while bringing it up to date. Her descriptions have a poetic ethereal quality that flows like water, and her characterization is quite good. Fairytale characters tend to be fairly one dimensional and she does a good job fleshing them out.

The Tiger's Bride and the Courtship of Mr. Lyon were also quite good, both being renditions of Beauty and the Beast (Mr. Lyon was the better of the two). It's interesting to see men being portrayed as beasts, particularly in a more modern setting that we like to think of as being "civilized." I actually think that the modern settings MAKE these stories far more sinister because we no longer have the excuse of archaic, barbaric practices as the basis for the creepiness.

The others were far less memorable. There was one about the Elf King (Erlkonig) which was very odd, although you might like it if you're partial to the movie Labyrinth and the various fanfictions thereof. There were also some stories about vampires and werewolves, and one that was a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and another of Puss in Boots. Carter began to lose steam towards the end, and I grew less interested, so I don't remember as many details about these stories. I feel like the later ones had more gratuitous sex than the earlier ones, and were far more reminiscent of some of Anne Rice's worst novels than a decent reinterpretation of the Brothers' Grimm--particularly the vampire/were ones.

All in all, though, this was a pretty good collection. I finished it in a few hours, and the first story alone makes it worth the read (if they had all been up to THAT caliber, this would be a five-star review, instead of a four-star review). Definitely worth a look if you love fairytales and gothic horror.
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