Review: The Bloody Chamber

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Bloody Chamber is a collection of short stories written within the Gothic genre and based on the original fairy tales that a lot of us grew up hearing. However, they are darkly twisted versions of these fairytales, which ultimately provides a fresh and interesting read.

There is a lot to say about this collection because it’s packed with allegories and symbolism and all those literary devices that you learn about in school and never really think that writers make the conscious decision to use in their work. But once you read this collection, you will start to realise that some writers actually do. Or maybe you read another book before this one and you came to that realisation a little earlier than I did.

Carter’s writing here is dripping with Feminist tones, which is probably what every other review in the world has already told you because we all know that she is a feminist. However in addition to this, she also makes several other points of notable interest. For example, ‘The Tiger’s Bride’ depicts a human transformation in to an animal in order to achieve love and happiness; which is just as likely to be a point on humanity in general as it is to be a point on gender. There is a lot about growing up. For example, ‘The Bloody Chamber’ is a good story about the transition from teenager in to adulthood and Wolf-Alice is related to growing up too. And there is also a fair amount of writing here related to oppression, love, psychological entrapment and so on.

‘The Lady of the House of Love’ was one of my favourite stories. It depicts the life of a seductive vampiress who scorns her existence but is a slave to her natural instincts – therefore creating an obvious struggle between fantasy (she longs to be human) and reality (she will never be human).

Another story I particularly enjoyed was ‘The Bloody Chamber’ short story. This one follows the story of a seventeen year old girl forced to marry for money. She tries to convince herself that she is in love with her enigmatic and somewhat unnerving husband, but is troubled by the fact that she doesn’t really know him yet. Desperate to find out who he really is, she embarks on a pursuit of forbidden knowledge that takes her to unimaginable and terrifying heights. This is a good one.

I also really like the two stories that were based on Beauty and the Beast – ‘The Courtship of Mr Lyon’ and ‘The Tiger’s Bride’. ‘The Snow Child’ is a very short (one and a half page) read that is both disturbing and interesting. Just read it.

The main thing to draw attention to with this collection, is that it is FULL of sexual imagery, references and connotations. So if that kind of thing makes you uncomfortable, makes you cringe, or just unsettles you, then this book is most definitely not for you.

In my opinion, it’s a good collection to analyse. So if you’re looking for something to stimulate your analytical skills and pry the best explanations you have out of you, then this is the book. If you’re looking for a casual read.. not so much. This is not a casual read.

It was okay. I personally would not read it again, apart from those few stories that I’ve highlighted as being of interest to me. But in terms of looking at the stories from a critical perspective, then I thought it was great.


Although I did not particularly enjoy this book, there is no denying that the writing in it is of a really high quality. Carter’s description is very detailed and elaborate and she paints the scene well, which is probably why some of the stories can have such a disturbing effect on their readers. It’s dripping with imagery and symbolism and also with carefully inserted references as a form of subtle characterisation. For example, in The Bloody Chamber short story, our narrator deliberately tells us of her ‘white’ girlhood, her ‘innocence’, her ‘scarlet palpitating core’ and all her childhood ‘relics’ in order to fool us and portray herself in a very bright, virginal light. But as we delve further in to the story, we do realise that she is not as innocent as she makes herself out to be. This is very clever and is also one of the main things I will compliment Carter’s writing on.

Reviewed by: Tanya Marie

View all my reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s