Tag Archives: Angela Carter

October 2017

October 2017

October has been a super weird month, I’ve had a tonne of assignments due (finals here we come), quit a job and just generally felt a little lost and aimless. It’s meant a bit of reading since I tend to read when I’m overwhelmed, but I’m still feeling a little lost…

Image source: Van Vorst Park Association

Wolf Alice by Angela Carter

Overview

Wolf AliceTitle: Wolf Alice
Author: Angela Carter
In: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (Angela Carter)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Dark fantasy, Werewolves
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1979
5th sentence, 74th page: She grew up with wild beasts.

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Synopsis

A feral child, whom some nuns have attempted to “civilize” by trying to teach her standard social graces, is left in the house of a monstrous, vampiric Duke when she cannot conform. She gradually comes to realise her own identity as a young woman and human being, and even develops compassion for the Duke, going far beyond the nuns’ stunted views of life.

Thoughts

Sometimes we just can’t conform to others’ beliefs of “normal”. But, that’s not always a bad thing, it’s just something that happens. And, in the case of this short story – that non-conformity led to a young, feral girl child being abandoned to an older, vampiric gentleman. What a way to punish someone for not doing as you expect them to! And, you know, there’s a lot of symbolism in the fact that the young, untrained girl is literally given away to an older man. One that is a blood-sucker to be more precise.

This was a great way to finish The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories – it is vivid, descriptive and just as wickedly twisted as the rest of the stories in this collection.

 <- The Company of Wolves Review The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

The Werewolf by Angela Carter

Overview

The WerewolfTitle: The Werewolf
Author: Angela Carter
In: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (Angela Carter)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Dark fantasy, Werewolves
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1979
5th sentence, 74th page: Here, take your father’s hunting knife; you know how to use it.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

A tale of a girl who goes visit her grandmother, but encounters a mysterious werewolf on the way…

Thoughts

Oh Grandma, what big teeth you have! And now I shall cause you bodily harm and take your place.

This is possibly my favourite Carter retelling so far. Most of the fairytales, I genuinely enjoy, but Little Red Riding Hood is one that I never really related to. Possibly because I never go to see my own grandmother, and I can’t imagine skipping down a forest path to do so. Plus, what sane family would send their small daughter into the forest where wolves are known to roam? But, I digress. The very things that kind of frustrate me about the original are twisted to fit this fantastic retelling.

For only three pages, this was a really fun and kind of twisted story.

 <- The Lady of the House of Love Review The Company of Wolves Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Puss-in-Boots by Angela Carter

Overview

Puss-in-BootsTitle: Puss-in-Boots
Author: Angela Carter
In: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (Angela Carter)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Feminism
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1979
5th sentence, 74th page: Mask the music of Venus with the clamour of Diana!

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

In “Puss-in-Boots,” Carter uses to one of the best-known fairy-tale cliches, the imprisoned princess, to examine the objectification and subjugation of women. In the traditional tale, a beautiful and virginal princess is trapped in a remote tower that is guarded by a dragon, which the hero must kill in order to save and marry her. In “Puss-in-Boots,” the beautiful virgin is trapped in a tower in the middle of town

Thoughts

Casanova with a cat sidekick. That’s pretty much what I got from this story. I actually had to start it three times before I was ready to really delve into the story. And, after the first two pages, I was actually entranced.

Yes, this story was Casanova told from the point of view of a lustful cat. And yes, it was a little weird that the cat was so keen to get his Master laid. But, it actually worked brilliantly. The true love of the Master was also completely able to take care of herself, and had a will of her own. Actually, she was a pretty big part in the overtaking of the evil husband (for what story is complete without one?). And honestly, I just loved the happy ending.

 <- The Tiger’s Bride Review The Erl King Review ->
Image source: Artist Daniel Mackie, Artist behind The DM Collection

The Snow Child by Angela Carter

Overview

The Snow ChildTitle: The Snow Child
Author: Angela Carter
In: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (Angela Carter)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1979
5th sentence, 74th page: The Countess reined in her stamping mare and watched him narrowly; he was soon finished.

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Synopsis

A Count and Countess are riding in midwinter, when the count, seeing the snow on the ground, wishes for a child “as white as snow”. As soon as he makes his wish, a young woman of the exact description appears…

Thoughts

It’s like a really twisted, warped snow white. And for just two pages, it certainly packed a punch!

I really don’t know how I feel about this short story actually. A man wishes for a woman, he gets her, ditches his wife for her, and then a rose is formed. It is a really nice ‘how-roses-were-made-esque’ story. But it’s also kind of a reminder that some men can be pigs.

For such a short tale, there are a lot of feelings that I got from The Snow Child. Yet, I can’t actually put my finger on why. Maybe I’ll just have to read it a few more times…

 <- The Erl-King Review The Lady of the House of Love Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

The Company of Wolves by Angela Carter

Overview

The Company of WolvesTitle: The Company of Wolves
Author: Angela Carter
In: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (Angela Carter)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Dark fantasy, Werewolves
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1979
5th sentence, 74th page: He strips off his shirt.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

The wolf is described as an evil thing. The first story is about a witch that turned a whole wedding ceremony into wolves. She likes them coming to her cabin and howling their misery for it soothes her. The following story is about a young lady and a man that are about to have sex on their wedding night. As they get ready, the husband says he needs to stop and relieve himself in the forest. The wife waits and he never returns. Off in the distance you can hear a wolf howling. She then figures her husband will never return and marries a new man. With her new husband she bears children. Her first husband comes back and sees his wife and the story unravels… Later we meet a girl walking in the woods. She was loved by everyone and feared nothing. She made a deal with a hunter; whoever can get to the grandmothers house first wins. If the hunter wins she owes him a kiss. She lets the hunter win because she wants to kiss him. The hunter arrives at the grandmothers house but she’s frail and sick, holding a Bible for protection. The last thing she sees is the young man at the foot of her bed…. “See! sweet and sound she sleeps in granny’s bed, between the paws of the tender wolf.”

Thoughts

The ultimate story of seduction over the wild beast. Kind of a spin on Little Red Riding Hood but with a far cooler ending. After all, the big teeth ultimately lead to a happily ever after… of sorts.

The story doesn’t just tell the story about the young girl with the red hood though. It displays the wolf as an evil thing – it is a creature turned by witchcraft. It is a killer and the scariest thing in the woods. No one wants to cross the wolf. Yet, the most beloved, and innocent of all the village goes into the woods and somehow manages to find a way to belong in the company of wolves.

 <- The Werewolf Review Wolf Alice Review ->
Image source: Wikipedia

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

Overview

The Bloody ChamberTitle: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories
Author: Angela Carter
In: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (Angela Carter)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Dark fantasy, Short story collections
Pace: Slow
Format: Collection
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1979
5th sentence, 74th page: No response to my tentative rap on his door.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Angela Carter was a storytelling sorceress, the literary godmother of such contemporary masters of supernatural fiction as Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Audrey Niffenegger, J. K. Rowling, and Kelly Link, who introduces this edition of Carter’s most celebrated book, published for the seventy-fifth anniversary of her birth. In The Bloody Chamber—which includes the story that is the basis of Neil Jordan’s 1984 movie The Company of Wolves—Carter spins subversively dark and sensual versions of familiar fairy tales and legends like “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Bluebeard,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” giving them exhilarating new life in a style steeped in the romantic trappings of the gothic tradition.

Thoughts

I started reading this book over a year ago. And after the first three stories, I felt completely overwhelmed. Honestly, they are hard going. But, after having a very long break, I decided to return to the world of Angela Carter. And I don’t know if it’s that I was in a better frame of mind for it, or maybe my reading tastes have developed, but there is something about Carter’s lyrical writing style that made it almost impossible to put this down.

There is a way about Carter’s writing that not only flows beautifully, but completely turns everything on its head. Her retake on many familiar stories leaves hauntingly familiar tales that you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s eerie and haunting, and has definitely given me a lot to think about.

 <- Wolf Alice Review The Bloody Chamber Review ->
Image source: Angela Carter

The Lady of the House of Love by Angela Carter

Overview

The Lady of the House of LoveTitle: The Lady of the House of Love
Author: Angela Carter
In: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (Angela Carter)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Dark fantasy, Vampires
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1979
5th sentence, 74th page: All the silver tears fall from the wall with a flimsy tinkle.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

A virginal English soldier, traveling through Romania by bicycle, finds himself in a deserted village. He comes across a mansion inhabited by a vampiress who survives by enticing young men into her bedroom and feeding on them. She intends to feed on the young soldier but his purity and virginity have a curious effect on her.

Thoughts

Sleeping beauty with a dark twist. And not in the slightest what I expected. Actually, it kind of gave me the heeby jeebies. The beautifully lyrical and intense words seemed to completely offset the dark, twisted nature of this vampiri-fic (yes, I went there) story. It was actually so unsettling that I’m glad I read this early in the morning, not late at night. After all, who ever heard of sleeping beauty as a reluctant vampire?

As with everything else that I’ve read by Angela Carter, she has an uncanny ability to turn something that I well-recognise and twist it until it is only liltingly familiar. Turning the women from the place of rescuing, to the attackers or rescuers themselves. In this case, the young woman alone in her castle is most certainly the predator. And the endless sleep? Well, it’s kind of a happy ending…

 <- The Snow Child Review The Werewolf Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

The Erl-King by Angela Carter

Overview

The Erl-KingTitle: The Erl-King
Author: Angela Carter
In: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (Angela Carter)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: ClassicsFeminism
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1979
5th sentence, 74th page: The woods enclose and then enclose again, like a system of Chinese boxes opening one into another; the intimate perspectives of the wood changed endlessly around the interloper, the imaginary traveller walking towards an invented distance that perpetually receded before me.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

A maiden wanders into the woods and is seduced by the sinister Erl-King, a seeming personification of the forest itself. However, she eventually realizes his plans and takes action…

Thoughts

I never know what to expect when I open the page on a new Angela Carter story. It always has a beautifully lilting language. Albeit, one that is a little difficult to follow and understand. And The Erl-King is no different. His slow destruction of the woman he loves is told in the most poetic and enchanting of ways. Until the strongly twisted ending that is.

I thoroughly enjoy reading Carter’s works, but they are a little hard going. And there are so many nuances throughout the words that no matter how many times I read this story, I think that I will find new points that jump out. There is such a strong message of strength beyond love that I melted a little inside. And then covered my mouth in shock at the incredibly twisted ending.

 <- Puss-in-Boots Review The Snow Child Review ->
Image source: Pinterest

The Courtship of Mr. Lyon by Angela Carter

OverviewThe Courtship of Mr Lyon

Title: The Courtship of Mr. Lyon
Author: Angela Carter
In: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Romance
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Year: 1979
5th sentence, 74th page: The Beast sunk his great head on to his paws.

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Synopsis

Bela’s father, after experiencing car trouble, takes advantage of a stranger’s hospitality…

Thoughts

From the first moments, I knew that this was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. But, what a calm, whimsical and lyrical retelling it was! I really love the way that Carter’s words flow over one another as you read the tale. It makes the process seem so quick and streamlined, and very enjoyable.

I have honestly never read anything with the lyrical smoothness of Carter’s words.

I put down the story of Mr Lyon with a feeling of fulfilment and power. Not only did the Beauty decide her own fate in this story, but the Beast actually needed her to survive and function. A great turning away from the traditional tales of powerless women.

<- The Bloody Chamber Review The Tiger’s Bride Review ->
Image source: Goodreads