REVIEW: The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories

“Sweet and sound she sleeps in granny’s bed, between the paws of the tender wolf.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

As you’ve probably gathered, this year, to get in the mood for Spooky Season, I decided to read some spooky books. I’ve read Angela Carter’s other book Nights at The Circus which I loved and I have been recommended The Bloody Chamber SO many times, so I thought it was about time I ticked this one off.

What Did I Think?

I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did. I’m usually not a huge fan of short stories but have tried to widen my horizons this year by getting involved in the 2020 National Short Story Award and by reading more short stories.

So if you didn’t know, The Bloody Chamber is a collection of short stories that play upon popular fairy tales and folklore. There are 10 short stories featuring different bad-ass female protagonists, that are all based around famous tales such as Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast and Puss In Boots.

Even though I loved the Gothic elements of each story, I think my favourite by far has to be the first story and the one that features in the title of the book, The Bloody Chamber. The reason why I love this one so much is because it is Angela Carter at her finest. Combining sexual desire, fear, passion, virginity and femininity all in one 42-page story, the story follows a young virgin, who has married a secretive bachelor who tells her she can have every key to every room in the house except one…and from there all his dirty, dark secrets come crawling out.

I think what is so excellent about these stories is that they focus heavily on female sexuality and womanhood, making it still as shocking to read now as it was when it was first released in 1979. In the introduction to the book (written by Helen Simpson in 2006) it states that ‘The Bloody Chamber is like a multi-faceted glittering diamond reflecting and refracting a variety of portraits of desire and sexuality – heterosexual female sexuality – which unusually for the time, 1979, are told from the heterosexual female viewpoint’ which I think beautifully sums up exactly what Carter set out to achieve when writing the book.

In true Gothic tradition, Carter uses fiction to draw upon society’s fears. Following the wave of feminism taking over the world during the 1970s, it’s interesting to see how Carter uses violence, gore and the uncanny to explore love and sex from the female POV.

This is definitely one I wish I had studied during University. However, I (thankfully) did get chance to study Carter whilst at University with reading Nights At The Circus which opened my eyes to the journey that femininity has and is still experiencing.

The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Publisher: Vintage Books
Published: Originally 1979 (my copy 2006)
# of Pages: 149
Genre: Gothic, Short Stories, Fantasy
Trigger Warnings:
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

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