Friday, October 19, 2012

Fairy Tale Fridays - The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
Published January 1990 by Penguin Group
Source: this copy is from my personal library

I had never heard of Angela Carter until I went to the Omaha Lit Fest a couple of years ago. As you know from all of the gushing I've been doing about it ever since, the day revitalized my interest in Fairy Tales in a big way. The name Angela Carter came up again and again and I knew I was going to have to read some of her stories. In keeping with the season, I decided it was time to pick up The Bloody Chamber. 

In The Bloody Chamber, Carter adapts old European fairy tales to give them a more modern feel with a distinctly feminine twist. Hers is an original style the retains elements of the traditional style, draws from Edgar Allen Poe then turns these stories "R" rated, yet cerebral. Very bloody, very sexual - these are not stories for everyone.

Karen Jones
I generally have a problem with short story collections. I know they are meant to be read straight through, there is generally a thread running through the stories tying them together which will be lost if they are read piecemeal. Such is the case with The Bloody Chamber but, for a change, I was able to stay with the book. Oh sure, it's really short, only 123 pages. But the horror element, and the role of women in these tales is so strong, it pulls the reader from one story to the next. Some stories are even more closely tied together - two versions of the Red Riding Hood story, for example, and a number of werewolf stories.

Did Carter live up to my expectations? Well, yes. Her writing in amazing, although I'm not sure that I liked all of the stories. Heck, I'm not even sure I understood the deeper meaning of some of the stories. But I will definitely read more of Carter's work. And I'll be in good company; on the Barnes & Noble website, the editorial reviews for The Bloody Chamber were written by Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, and Joyce Carol Oates. I'll bet they all understood the meaning of the stories!


  1. This sounds so interesting. And I love fairy tale rewrites that give feminist twists! But I definitely have a problem "getting" all the meanings in ANY fair tales!

  2. I read this one several years ago and enjoyed it. I'm a fairy tale nut (studied them in grad school). I enjoyed some of the subtle nuance of these, but they're also just a lot of twisted fun all around. I'd also recommend Emma Donoghue's Kissing the Witch.

  3. I love that drawing...really makes you look twice! I think she sounds like an interesting author!