The Bloody Chamber
Angela Carter

An enjoyable collection of short stories, all of them twists on classic fairy stories, and most of them with a sensuous feel.

Some of the stories are straight up gothic romances, with the young innocent being taken into the remote mansion/castle . The Bloody Chamber does this in a classic way, with the innocent young girl marrying the much older, very rich, many times widowered stranger, and being taken to his ancestral home. The Lady in the House of Love flips this around, with an unsuspecting male being the innocent virgin who wanders into the castle one evening, in search of food and shelter.

The Erl King was the only one where I didn’t recognise the original story. From the descriptions, and from googling ‘erl king’, it has its origins in Germanic folklore. In this one you can easily feel yourself walking through the winter forest, and feel the fatal attraction of the erl king.

The Snow Child is strangely disturbing – the shortest of all the stories, but it somehow manages to be completely unsettling. Impressive that Angela Carter can create in only two pages something that continues to disturb me after several re-reads.

Puss in Boots is a good contrast to this, more of a fun romp than the other stories. It’s also one of the few stories which are written from a male perspective, most of the others are told by the female.

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