The Bloody Chamber

By Angela Carter,

Book cover of The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories

Book description

With an introduction by Helen Simpson. From familiar fairy tales and legends - Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss in Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires and werewolves - Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.

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Why read it?

12 authors picked The Bloody Chamber as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

While more of an anthology than a book, this still encapsulates the theme quite well. Perhaps more suited to a mini episodic format than a feature-length film, Carter still imbues many of her short stories with striking and unforgettable imagery.

I think of the titular story and its ancient castle by the sea or The Erl-King and its inescapable labyrinth of a forest and am left dumbfounded that I have not seen it rendered anywhere other than my own mind’s eye.

From Camilla's list on fantasy and cinematic experiences.

I return to this dark, sensual collection of Angela Carter stories most autumns, often through audio book. While these are not technically romance stories, they’re what I call romance-adjacent: fairy tales centered on love and passion—and their dangers—with gorgeous language and twists that subvert your expectations.

My favorite story here is “In the Company of Wolves,” but really that’s like choosing a favorite child.

From G.G.'s list on Halloween romance books.

This anthology of dark fairy tales is everything I love in fiction.

As Carter once said herself, she liked to pour new wine into old bottles, giving them a shake and then seeing them explode. This is something I also do in my own writing - taking the themes of myths or fairy tales and weaving their darkness into my Victorian gothic novels. 

From Essie's list on inspirational and eerie Gothic.

Angela Carter’s collection of retold tales is considered a classic work of feminist fiction. The author disassembles well-known fairy tales, such as “Bluebeard,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” and churns them into subversive narratives that evoke an underlying current of female rage. In her titular story, “The Bloody Chamber," Carter brings the classic “Bluebeard” tale into the 1970s and expands the backstory of the main protagonist, giving her history and motivation for the choices she makes. The author doesn’t shy away from the violence of the original tale, wrapping it in the gothic style. While many…

From Andrea's list on women reclaiming their own power.

When I first discovered that books could be more than entertainment, I saw them as a private space between authors and readers, safe from the tyranny of respectability, convention, and conformity, where truths could be told. Angela Carter occupies that space. Fairytales, fables, and folklore are deconstructed and retold by an author for whom society’s repression of the feminine is all too obvious. (Neil Jordan collaborated with the author on a magical movie adaptation of a few of these tales in A Company of Wolves). Go wild.

I read this book when my mind needs a holiday from the mundane world, and it always restores me. Blood-edged and sharp-toothed, it’s a collection of retold fairy tales written with passionate vividness, dry humour, and pure poetic sensuality. Carter brings a modern eye to Bluebeard, Red Riding Hood, and the rest, but her tellings feel almost primal: there’s a tangibility to them, a scent that comes off the page, and her play with language feels like she’s drawing you into a wicked conspiracy with her. I adore this book! 

Several reviewers of my book referred to Angela Carter, so I decided to revisit my collection after many years.

A rich and chilling retelling of my childhood nightmare story Bluebeard heads Angela Carter’s collection. Carter delights in the gruesome and gory detail, the blood-soaked keys, the dripping corpses. When I was a child I was terrified of the illustration in my fairy tale book of a hanging row of girls in beautiful blood-stained gowns, I couldn’t read the actual story, I was too frightened, but time and again I returned to that vivid illustration, horribly fascinated. Now, many years later,…

Not only does Carter put a brilliantly insightful feminist spin on well-known fairy tales like “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Bluebeard,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” but she brings the erotic aspects of these stories to the surface in a natural and insightful way, integrating them into the stories and characters seamlessly. Discovering Carter can be truly revelatory and opened my mind and encouraged me to re-look at the entire canon, and not only find my own story within those universally praised stories, but invited me to lay claim to our collective heritage and attempt my own take…

Decades before the TV series Grimm, Angela Carter rewrote Grimm’s and other classic European fairy tales with a feminist bent, heightening the sexuality just under the surface of the original tales. Even more exciting, this collection is sentence-forward, meaning that the dazzling, tumbling-long, and flawless sentences are front and center in this gifted author’s work.

The content is strong and includes a retelling of the Bluebeard tale with a grotesque patriarch forbidding his young bride to enter a locked room. In Carter’s version, the old pervert never gets a chance to murder his curious wife. Another story describes fetishistic,…

Groundbreaking and now canonical, Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber stories are provocative and daring, tender and enchanting, as often unsettling as unexpected. The ten tales in Carter’s collection reconsider traditional fairy-tale themes—love, romance, transformation, taboo—with feminist wit and bite, taking readers on a complicated, dizzying, at times thorny, journey through her particular labyrinth of European fairy tales, British folklore, and western literary canons.

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