Short Story: The Bloody Chamber
Collection: The Bloody Chamber
Author: Angela Carter
Well. That wasn't what I was expecting.
But, dear reader, that's not a bad thing! I had read that Carter's The Bloody Chamber was a collection of fairy tale/folklore retelling with a sensual and dark twist. So, that much I was expecting. However, I didn't think I'd have to play a guessing game with what tale was being retold, for one, and two, I didn't know how dark it would be! Not that this bothers me, mind you. I love the dark and creepy stories out there. This short story was a great one to kick off my October short story month. I'll gladly tell you a vague synopsis before I urge you to read the story yourself.
The story is about a young girl who chooses to get married to a much MUCH older (and richer) man purely out of need. This girl comes from a one-parent household since her father died when she was a lot younger. The girl's mother knows her daughter doesn't love this man, but the young girl is determined to marry him anyway. Carter's writing provides a lot of symbolism and visual cues to the reader. Everything described, however, is practically dripping with dread. Even though the young girl is trying to make the most of her situation, you can't help but feel that she has definitely made the wrong decision in marrying this man.
At first, I thought this story was based on Little Red Riding Hood. There is a lot of mentioning of the color red (His wedding gift, clasped around my throat. A choker of rubies, two inches wide, like an extraordinarily precious slit throat) and of, well, death. But color me surprised when I researched the story after finishing it that I got the completely wrong story. Click here if you're curious what it's really about.
Beware! This story (and the whole book, probably) is not for the young or easily-embarrassed/squeamish. There is sex and death all over this work. You've been warned!
A great pick for a first short story read! I can't wait to get to Carter's other retellings later this month. Have I mentioned I'm a sucker for a fairy tale retelling? :)