Review: The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

The Bloody Chamber I started reading this book on the plane home because it’s a small book, only about 126 pages long and it fit easily in my carry on. It is another book for school of course that I have to read for next month but like many others I figured why not start now. I was interested in reading this when I saw it last year in the book store for the course I am in now. However….. I just don’t really like it. I don’t say that very often with books. I seem to be the lucky one who can pick up a book and always love it but in this case even though I know that it is well written well thought out I just don’t like it. It may be because I have read so many fairy tales in the last four months and read, like Bluebeard more than ten different versions of the tale.

The Bloody Chamber contains fairy tales rewritten in a more modern take. It is a little more complex than the Grimms fairy tales but like theirs, Carter is writing hers for the time period and I really like that about these. There are ten different fairy tales she has written: The Bloody Chamber, The Courtship of Mr. Lyon, The Tigers Bride, Puss-in-Boots, The Erl-King, The Snow Child, The Lady of the House of Love, The Werewolf, The Company of Wolves, and lastly Wolf-Alice. Now my problem reading these was I was so confused on what was going on. I think the Bloody Chamber, The Snow Child, and The Lady of the House of Love were the only tale that I  had no problems understanding. But as I continued reading through the tales I was confused and had to reread things over and over again and go back a few paragraphs to try and understand.

The Bloody Chamber: This is a version of the tale type bluebeard. In my post about my experience with fairy tales I mentioned bluebeard and recommended it though it is a little dark. Well out of this whole book I would decently recommend reading this one because it was quite interesting but I must say it was weird reading so much detail into the tale then the other tales I have read.

The Courtship of Mr. Lyon: This was a version of Beauty and the Beast which actually took me some time to figure that one out. The beginning was very….different, seeming like an ordinary person who was a lawyer or had been at court. It wasn’t until I put rose and the man Mr. Lyon was punishing to figure out that it was a beauty and the beast tale. I think once I understood the tale, it was a lot easier to enjoy.

The Tigers Bride: Another Beauty and the Beast tale. I figured this out right away, after just reading one this followed the same general line, but no roses in this one, but being given away from a game of cards. This was an interesting story, there is a back story on the girl and I like her take of modern and the concept of Gambling. BUT this was the strongest story of the beast wanting to see the girl completely naked and her asking to see him completely naked….I don’t know what to think of this but its weird. The weird didn’t end there though, at the very end she sees he is a tiger (hens the title) and comes to her slowly purring and licks all her skin off her until she is a tiger too. Yup that was the end…

Puss-in Boots: I honestly could not understand this story or liked what I was reading so when I still could not figure out what was going on I did something I never do….I skipped it.

The Erl King: This was a very strange tale, I think about a girl who has been kiddnapped? I could not exactly tell you but I am not really a fan of this dark kind of fiction so it was a little hard for me to read regardless of being unsure of what was happening. But at the end she says how she is going to strangle him and set the birds free. It doesn’t say that she has done it when she has her hands in his hair but it says what would happen and the last sentence I was confused by and I probably need to read this again and in between the lines but it says “The bow will dance over the new strings of it’s own accord and they will cry out “Mother, Mother, you have murdered me!”” (Cater 91).

The Snow Child: I have read snow white type stories like the Brothers Grimm “Snow White and Rose Red” and this followed the same kind of this only with just snow white. This was a very short tale only a page long so it was very easy to understand, thankfully. A Count and his wife are riding when he sees three things and says I want a daughter as white, red and black is what he sees. He then has her and the wife does not like that so she tries to lead her astray to leave her but instead gets all the wives clothes. Then she picked a flower, bled, fell, and melted and all that was left was the three things that he saw on the way there. His wife then picks up the rose and with a very weird ending says “It bites”

The Lady of the House of Love: A story about vampires, not at all what I had expected, thinking it was all regular fairy tales. I actually liked this one, she used a lot of description and it was a sad love story. Very good, and I liked that it was set in Transylvania the typical place for vampires. The poor girl who is still a teenager is a vampire and for some reason probably for her description and how tiny and fragile she is I pictured her as a skeleton. This girl puts on her mothers old wedding dress for that is all she has for clothes and takes in new comers, treats them to dinner and wine, than coffee, and then for what they think is getting lucky and she sucks their blood and her maid buries them in the garden. She finds out from her cards that she is going to fall in love, and she does and dies because of it. Sad ending but cute story.

The Company of Wolves: A Little red riding hood tale, with a twist of course. The beginning starts off about the wolf, and how a women married him and then he took off with his wolfness so she remarries has a child and then he comes back gets angry because he sees what she has done while he was gone. The girl who is little red riding hood, knows that if she sees a naked man she needs to run because he is a wolf. The girl is taking food in a basket to her grandmas and also has a knife for protection. She meets a man on the way and thinks nothing of him as he’s willing to help her. He takes her basket and they take different paths to see who gets to grandmas first, obviously the wolf. He eats her grandmother and discards of her bones (not eating her whole like in most tales so that she can still be saved) The girl caught on very quickly seeing that her grandmother was missing and then the house was surrounded by wolves (Hens the title) then weirdly she takes off all her clothes and throws them one by one into the fire she was not scared at that point and took off the wolfs clothing and tossed in the fire so he would be contended to a life of being a wolf and then he becomes dog life and sleeps with the girl in bed. An interesting little red riding hood.

Wolf-Alice. I can’t even begin to start about how strange this story was. A girl raised by wolfs and brought into the church to be taught how to be human and then to a crazy mans house. I cannot even begin to understand this story it was very weird.

I would like to read this book again, maybe not for a year or two and try to read it with a fresh pair of eyes. I was really disappointed that I could not love or understand most of this book because Angela Carter is a very talented writer. I would suggest trying this book out if your into fairy tales but for me at this point in time, I just was not a huge fan.

xoxo Marissa

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