books / writing

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories – Book Review

bloody chamber

Years ago, I read “In The Company of Wolves” for research for Phase. I was reading a lot of werewolf/shifter stories to try and figure out what I wanted to do. My roommate at the time had this book on her shelf and recommended it. I remember liking it, being surprised at the darkness in it, but other than that I had very little recall of the plot.

In reading How to Read Literature Like a Professor this summer, Angela Carter is referenced several times, and since I recognized her name (unlike a few of the other authors mentioned), I made it my mission to try and read her this year.

It took awhile for her stories are dense, both in language and content. Some were quite short, others longer. Below are my first impressions as I read:

“The Bloody Chamber” – creepy and beautiful at the same time. I sort of love that her mom was like an avenging angel.

“The Courtship of Mr. Lyons” – beautifully written but not as subversive or dark as I expected. Not sure it did much different from the original story, except expand it.

“The Tiger’s Bride” – ahhhh, did not see that ending coming. Again eloquent writing that astonishes me.

“Puss in Boots”-I don’t think I have the words but wow was the language unromantic and crass.

“The Erl-King” – by the most beautiful in language flow and choice.

“The Snow Child” – This is one I’ll come back to to look at deeper. There’s a lot in such a short piece.

“The Lady of the House of Love”- I think this one might be my favorite so far. The language and imagery is incredible.

“The Werewolf “- oh. Okay.

“In the Company of Wolves” – words. This woman uses words in ways I’m jealous of.

“Wolf-Alice” – not a favorite but interesting in coming from the opposite side of being human.

After each short story, I would google search criticism of it because I was sure I was missing the point (and on a lot of levels I was). You don’t read this book for light reading, even with short stories. You dig. And you dig deep.

The main thing I was left with was that I’d like to read more by her, read more about her, and that I couldn’t recommend her to any of my students until they were well into college. The sexual nature and content of her stories (which is her main focus) is raw and unromantic. Which is fine if you understand why she goes there. But again, if you go in for light reading, it’s a shock to the system.

Her word choice was probably my favorite. Her descriptions were like no one else’s and there wasn’t a cliche in sight. The subversion of typical fairy-tales is inventive, surprising at times, and uncomfortable. Her works are uncomfortable, which reminds me of Flannery O’Conner. It’s fine to read, but you’re just waiting for some sort of dark twist.

**** out of Five

© ecnewman, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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