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'I ran to the telephone; and the line, of course, was dead. Dead as his wives…'
Angela Carter had recently finished translating Charles Perrault's works when she began her own virtuoso retellings of classic fairy tales. In this astonishing collection, first published in 1979, familiar stories become seductive, enchanting and terrifying. In the title story, Bluebeard is a sado-masochist who lures his inexperienced bride to his castle on the coast of Brittany – but is defeated by a most unexpected adversary. Subversive twists abound: in 'The Werewolf', a retelling of 'Little Red Riding Hood', a girl hacks off a wolf's paw, only to find it turning into a warty, withered old hand that she recognises as her grandmother's. Carter's women are more likely to outwit their attackers than fall prey to them – as the heroine of 'The Company of Wolves' puts it, 'she knew she was nobody's meat'.
Carter's prose style is remarkable for its vivid economy ('Cold; tempest; wild beasts in the forest') and its rich appeal to all the senses ('one last, single, perfect rose of so intense and yet delicate a fragrance it seemed to ring like a dulcimer on the frozen air'). These are Gothic tales, cruel tales, tales of wonder, fabulous narratives that reach so deeply into the unconscious that they seem to be the true, original versions. Cultural historian Marina Warner has written a new introduction in which she describes Carter as 'fairy tale's rescuer, the form’s own knight errant'. Azerbaijan-born Igor Karash won the commission to illustrate our edition in the second Folio Society/House of Illustration Book Illustration Competition. His work is reminiscent of classic fairy-tale illlustrations, but matching the depth and dark sophistication of Carter's writing.
Review by anon on 23rd Oct 2012
"I have never previously read Angela Carter. I thoroughly loved the first story and appreciated the vividness of the author's descriptions, which truly put one mentally "in the moment", as well as the..." [read more]