(as reviewed by
the webmistress on Amazon.com)
July 24, 2000
witty, shivery, unseelie...a dark delight.
Angela Carter via the fantasy/horror film "The Company of
Wolves," for which she wrote the screenplay, adapted from one of
the short stories in "The Bloody Chamber." Since then I've
read two of her novels and two books of short stories, and this one
remains the best by far.
All the stories
are good, but the title one particularly so; it inspired me to spend
$35 I didn't have in order to experience the taste of cointreau (the
liqueur the heroine sipped after dinner with Bluebeard)...it was
exotic, tropical, sweet-sour-bitter, with a strangely insinuating
warmth...not unlike the prose itself.
The vampire story
is a perfect analogy of beautiful, rotting, slightly ridiculous
old-world European romanticism coming to its denouement in the bleak
light of modernism, appropriately timed to World War I, appropriately
personified in an innocent (but just as doomed, and what does that
tell us?) blond soldier.
And I must
especially praise "The Erl-King" -- it put me in mind,
somehow, of a disillusioned Lady Chatterley creeping one last time to
the hut of a mossy, malevolent Mellors, in a voluptuously violent
autumnal reversal of the spring marriage of John Thomas and Lady Jane.
In short, it's a
mouthwatering book -- so evocative, so subtly disturbing, such
texture and richness...and all the more memorable for the occasional
touches of dark, edgy, cynical wit. Anne Rice is to cheap triple sec
as Angela Carter is to cointreau. I'd kiss the late Ms. Carter's
decaying feet if I could, and perhaps she'd appreciate that.