I don't remember exactly how many years Angela Carter's, The Bloody Chamber, has been lying unread on my stacks. I tried reading it a couple of times, but it never clicked. Carter's ornate language definitely requires a certain...lyrical mood? Yeah, that's it. It's lyrical, and I always have to be in the mood for lyrical.
I've read a huge amount of fairy tale retellings through the years
--it's my thing--so I've gotten to a point where very little seems new anymore. However, I'm tickled to say, Carter's writing and her unique take on great fairy tales really felt quite original, which is enough to make me dance with joy.
The title story is a great take on the story of Bluebeard, wherein the protagonist is married off to a rich man, taken to his castle, introduced to sex (ooh!) and he soon hands over the house keys, heads off on a journey, and she finds all the bodies of his former wives locked away in his private chamber. Nothing new there. However, Carter puts a decidedly feminist twist on her tales, and the young woman's savior takes a very distinct form compared to the other Bluebeard tales I've read.
Carter also tackles other well known tales like "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Beauty and the Beast." At first I was a little put off by the recurring retellings. That is, included in The Bloody Chamber are multiple retellings of the Red Riding Hood story and Beauty and the Beast. At first I thought it would be quite repetitive, but I was delighted to find that Carter does a nice job individuating her tales and making multiple retellings feel very unique and fresh.
I'm certainly a convert now. I have another of Carter's works, the novella Heroes and Villains, on my stacks. I suspect I may revisit Carter before the end of the Once Upon a Time II challenge! What better way to celebrate fantasy writing than with a supreme artist like Carter?
Additionally, this is the first complete book of stories I've finished for the Short Story Challenge! I'm excited to be able to tick another completed book off of my sidebar. And what a rich, seductive experience it was!