Great Short Read: The bloody chamber and other stories by Angela Carter

One of the things I really like about the library’s new blog is that it lets us point out great books that aren’t frothy with newness in the press. The one I’d like to highlight today is a small collection of short stories by Angela Carter, called The bloody chamber and other stories. Carter was one of the pioneers of the movement to retell fairy tales as commentary on modern life. This brief collection (128 pages) are her early works in this style.

The collection takes its name from the title of her version of the Bluebeard story, but contains interesting variations on several other folktales.  My personal favorite is her take on Puss in boots, a rakish confidence trickster out to secure his master’s happiness (and his own) through a mixture of deceit, seduction, and murder. A second favorite is A company of wolves, which is Carter’s take on Red Riding Hood.

In part this is a favorite because I like the movie, of the same name, which was made from it. The special effects in it, for the werewolf transformations, were done with prosthetics and animatronics, and were brilliant for their time. It’s not really a horror story, though it does have werewolves and horrific elements. It’s a coming of age story, with the granny (played by Angela Landsbury) representing childhood and chastity, and the wolf representing adulthood.