The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
I recently started an online book club-like class centered around traditional fairytales…and I’m not talking of the Disney nature. I’m talking about the horrific, gruesome, seductive, grotesque kind from ancient times that chill you to the bones.
AND I AM LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT.
One of the books assigned was The Bloody Chamber, which is an assortment of short folk tales with different spins on classics, such as Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, the Elf King and more.
I have to admit, when I first started reading the book, I was underwhelmed with the first story, which was based on Bluebeard and lacked any real shock factor. I wondered if it was because of the society we live in and those awful ‘80s horror films I subjected myself to as a teen, that I was desensitized to the point where nothing would surprise me.
But then I kept reading.
And I would find myself covering my mouth, gasping or “ewwwing” as I read some twisted tales. I also found myself seduced by some of the characters as well, as the author’s way with words drew you into the magical realms and you could easily see how one could get so swept up in the darkness of the woods. The sexual exploitations, the trickster mindset, the elaborate schemes…all woven together for fascinating tales.
Now, those were the kinds of perverse storytelling I was expecting!
Not that I enjoyed some of the sickening plot twists, mind you, by I was definitely intrigued by the language and mindset of an older era. And when you think about it, the origin of these stories and how horrific some of them truly started out as, it’s a wonder how folks like Disney were even able to water them down enough to not be as sadistic, but instead, flowery tales of love, romance and happily ever afters.
Pretty impressive, actually.
I’m looking forward to reading more stories as the class progresses and would love to sink my teeth into a Grimm compilation next. Pun absolutely intended 😉
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