Five years ago, I quietly glanced at Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber in my Fable and Tales class. I thought it was a very descriptive book from an extraordinary writer, but I never really immersed myself at that time. But with a more mature capacity for reading, I decided to revisit these tales that peaked my interest. And with Summer finally here, it’s perfect timing.
The Bloody Chamber is a collection of familiar fairy tales (mostly from Charles Perrault) translated with a more modern setting and somewhat feminist and sensual perspective. These stories are ripe with luscious descriptions, sinister settings, and ambiguously moral characters. They have a fantastical element because they evoke epic journeys from female protagonists. The most memorable is, of course, The Bloody Chamber (translated from the Bluebeard tale). Although quite long from the other stories, it’s still a very good tale of a recently married woman who tries to uncover her husband’s dark secret.
My favorites out of the ten vignettes are Snow Child (from Snow White), The Tiger’s Bride (from Beauty and the Beast), and The Company of Wolves (from Little Red Riding Hood). What I truly loved about these particular stories was that the endings had a slightly different twist (The Beast in The Tiger’s Bride is surprisingly not the creature who underwent a transformation) and there were definitely sexual undertones (especially with the female protagonist in The Company of Wolves as she plays a game with the handsome wolf). The other stories (The Courtship of Mr. Lyons, The Lady of the House of Love, The Werewolf, Puss-in-Boots, Erl-king, and Wolf-Alice) are mildly entertaining, but still can grabbed anyone’s attention because of their originality to captivate the readers with traditional fairy tales.
Many are quite funny, with classic but unpredicted endings. But the best part of all was that the female characters were not just bystanders. Sure, they were extravagant in their appearance, but they had the relatability and common sense with anyone dealing with issues of marriage, sexuality, and identity. All in all, I would recommend anyone this book because the read will be swept away, one away or another.
My Rating: B+