Review of The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter – 5 Stars

The Bloody Chamber and Other StoriesThe Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel like I am very late to the party having only just discovered Angela Carter but in case I’m not here is my review of The Bloody Chamber.

Firstly, wow! The writing in this book is incredible. Here is a brief extract to show you what I mean:

“When they saw the white bride leap out of the tombstones and scamper off toward the castle with the werewolf stumbling after, the peasants thought the Duke’s dearest victim had come back to take matters into her own hands. They ran screaming from the presence of a ghostly vengeance on him. Poor, wounded thing.”

Powerful stuff in just a few short lines. Angela Carter has a really unique writing style that makes the words appear both like a great literature piece that you feel smart reading and at the same time quite humble and absorbing so that the stories are approachable to the everyday reader.

Anyway, back to the book itself. It is split into ten short stories. Several of these are re-tellings of recognised classics. If anyone has ever read the “original” Grimm stories (for example in the original Grimm version Cinderella’s sisters cut off their toes to try to make them fit the slipper), Carters tales are like this only much much darker. The Snow Child (re-telling of Snow White) was particularly shocking and striking and stuck with me long after I finished the book (not quite giving me nightmares, but not far from it).

I know this isn’t a part of a normal review (never judge a book by its cover and all that) but I must add the cover of this book is particularly beautiful. It feels like an old-fashioned storybook and the black and red imagery really draw the eye.

The Bloody Chamber Cover

My copy of the book.

If you are intrigued by all the hype around Angela Carter then this really is a fantastic book to get you going. Although not for the faint-hearted. This really is a smart, intriguing and beguiling collection of stories.

Enjoy! 🙂

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Know Your History – 7th May – Angela Carter

know your history - writing

On this day… 7th May, 1940 – Angela Carter Born

Angela Carter (7 May 1940 – 16 February 1992) was an English novelist and journalist, known for her feminist, magical realism, and picaresque works. In 2008, The Times ranked Carter tenth in their list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. In 2012, Nights at the Circus was selected as the best ever winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

On Writing

All books, even cookery books and car-maintenance manuals, consist of narratives. Narrative is written in language but it is Angela Carter Image Quotationcomposed, if you follow me, in time. All writers are inventing a kind of imitation time… they are playing a complicated game with our time, the reader’s time, the time it takes to read a story. A good writer can make you believe time stands still. Yet the end of all stories, even if the writer forbears to mention it, is death, which is where our time stops short. Sheherezade knew this, which is why she kept on spinning another story out of the bowels of the last one, never coming to a point where she could say: ‘This is the end.’ Because it would have been. We travel along the thread of narrative like high-wire artistes. That is our life.

Did You Know?..

Carter regularly used bad language. She Writes:

I am known in my circle as notoriously foul-mouthed. It’s a familiar paradox—the soft-spoken, middle-aged English gentlewoman who swears like a trooper when roused. I blame my father, who was neither English nor a gentleman but Scottish and a journalist, who bequeathed me bad language and a taste for the print, so that his daughter, for the last fifteen-odd years, has been writing book reviews and then conscientiously blue-pencilling out her first gut reactions—‘bloody awful’, ‘fucking dire’—in order to give a more balanced and objective overview.