Author: Angela Carter
Genre: Gothic, Fantasy, Fairytale, Dark, Short Stories
The Bloody Chamber (or The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories) is an anthology of short fiction by Angela Carter. All of the stories share a common theme of being closely based upon fairy tales or folk tales. From familiar fairy tales and legends - Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves - Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.
So I was lent this collection of short stories by my English teacher as further reading for my college course and I have mixed feelings about it... There was a selection of 10 short stories, all under the genre of gothic fiction.
To make this easier, I'm going to write a short paragraph about each story (like a mini review)
1) The Bloody Chamber
34 Pages (longest story in the book)
I found this story really intriguing but quite creepy. It was about a woman who had recently married a man, she didn't even really like, to find out he was hiding a gruesome secret. The descriptions provided were really gothic and I enjoyed that factor but it took me a while to get into this story... I had to keep coming back to it but I persevered and found the ending wonderfully unexpected!
2) The Courtship of Mr Lyon
This was probably my favourite story from the collection! It was about a father who got caught in a snow storm and found a house when he was seeking for shelter. His daughter had asked for a pure white rose, one he found in the garden of this mysterious house. The father stole the rose but there were serious consequences that followed. I loved the Beauty and the Beast aspect hidden inside the story and the characters were lovely!
3) The Tiger's Bride
This was about a man who took the form of a tiger. He hated his appearance so acted like a man by wearing mens clothes and a mask which only exposed his eyes. The father of a beautiful girl places a bet against the tiger, but loses and similarly has to face the following consequences. I found this very similar to the story before but it was still a nice read. I thought the ending was quite ambiguous but I still liked it.
I didn't really enjoy this fairy tale. It included a cat called Puss, who became a young man's valet. He did many chores for him and they got on well until Puss's master fell in love. Puss hates this and plots against his master. The events after this were gothic and strange. I found this story quite hard to keep up with and didn't like it as much as some of the previous stories.
5) The Erl-King
This was another one of the few stories from the collection that I enjoyed. It was about a king who lived in a hut in the middle of a forest. He eats plants and sometimes animals. The narrator visits the Erl King to learn about his life and have sex with him. One day the girl realises the King's plans for her and a troubling turn of events occur... What I loved was how Red Riding Hood was weaved into this story. It was nice to come across symbolic quotes from the story like 'what big eyes you have.'
6) The Snow Child
2 Pages (Maybe not even that...)
Another one of my favourite stories! It was short and sweet and involved aspects of 'The Snow Child' from the Grimm Brothers fairy tale (which is one of my favourites!) It's about a Count and Countess who are travelling on hours through the winter when they come across a naked girl. The Count has an attraction to the girl and takes her on his horse but the Countess becomes jealous and tries to trick the girl so she can kill her. I really enjoyed the ending too.
7) The Lady of the House of Love
This story was about Vampires and I liked that aspect of it. However I didn't really understand what was happening, and I had to keep coming back to it because I got bored so I didn't find this addition very interesting... I also liked how Jack and the Beanstalk was incorporated into it including quotes like 'fee fie fo fum!'
8) The Werewolf
2 Pages (The shortest story in the collection)
I really enjoyed this very short story. I was gothic and unexpected and had features of Little Red Riding Hood. I think it had a good moral to the story even if it was quite twisted... The main thing I liked was it's uniqueness
9) The Company of Wolves
This story also involved Red Riding Hood but it wasn't as good as the previous one. It's about how ruthless wolves are and talks about a blond girl visiting her grandmother. She is armed with a knife but is not afraid. She meets a man on her journey and they become trusting friends. He challenges the girl to see who can get to her grandmother's house first, however when the girl arrives (after the man) she is caught in a rather awkward situation... I liked the idea of the story, but it wasn't as well written as some of the others.
This was about a female child who is raised by wolves. One day humans find her sleeping with her mother and take her to be treated like a human with the nuns. They cannot break her from her animalistic habits however she begins to notice how different she is compared to other people. I liked the idea of the wolf-human but I found the story line quite odd and confusing.
I felt like if I didn't have to read the book and if I wasn't going to be questioned on it, I would have put it down relatively early on... It's also a quick read, I read this in a matter of days, which was probably another reason why I continued reading... I think this is a good book to just pick up at random times are the stories are all short and easy to read, so you could just read one every once in a while. However if I was to recommend the book, I'd advise 16+ because there was some strong language and many sex scenes. There were some really lovely chapter but I personally found that there was more bad chapters than good.
A lily. Possessed of strange, ominous calm of a sentient vegetable, like one of those cobra-headed, funereal lilies whose white sheaths are curled out of a flesh as thick and tensely yielding to the touch as vellum
There is not much in the autumn wood to make you smile but it is not yet, not quite yet the saddest time of the year.
A young girl would go into the wood as trustingly as Red Riding Hood to her granny's house but this light admits no ambiguities and, here, she will be trapped in her own illusion because everything in the wood is exactly as it seems
The beautiful queen of vampires sits all alone in her dark, high house under the eyes of the portraits of her demented and atrocious ancestors
She is so beautiful and unnatural; her beauty is an abnormality, a deformity
Her beauty is a symptom of her disorder, of her soullessness.
Be he alive or be he dead
I'll grind his bones to make my bread
She herself is a haunted house
Fear and flee the wold; for, worst of all, the wolf may be more than he seems
2 out of 5 stars
Next book I'm going to review:
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline