Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales
Once upon a time fairy tales weren't meant just for children, and neither is Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales. This collection contains lyrical tales, bloody tales and hilariously funny and ripely bawdy stories from countries all around the world - from the Arctic to Asia - and no dippy princesses or soppy fairies. Instead, we have pretty maids and old crones; crafty women and bad girls; enchantresses and midwives; rascal aunts and odd sisters.
This fabulous celebration of strong minds, low cunning, black arts and dirty tricks could only have been collected by the unique and much-missed Angela Carter. Illustrated throughout with original woodcuts.
This book has been part of my ever expanding collection of fairy tales for a while, and I always seem to find inspiration in it. It’s a really interesting, diverse collection, with fairy and folk tales from different cultures from around the world, including Iceland, Peru, Norway, Egypt and Russia, just to name a few. There are tales of wise women, shrewd witches and resourceful maidens, some of whom will seem familiar to you. The collection is very woman-centric and makes for far more interesting reading than you might think. The hard cover edition also includes beautiful, if somewhat sinister illustrations, which just adds to the charm of the book (sometimes I just flip through the book to look at the woodcuts).
It includes retellings of more traditional fairy tales most of us are familiar with, but also offers entirely new stories that are most likely foreign to most Western audiences. I had never heard of most of the stories until I read this book. I’ll be honest, some of the tales are downright weird and don’t make any sense (at least to me), and others border on the grotesque, but it’s a great collection and definitely worth a read, especially if you’re a fan of fairy tales and folklore and want to sink your teeth into something a bit more mature. Also, you can’t go past this if you’re interested in reading about the roles women played in different cultures and how they were viewed. The collection is wholly captivating and enlightening and sometimes shocking. Definitely not one to read to little ones as a comforting bed time story. It would certainly give them nightmares.
But, if you’re a fan of folklore, fairytales and the bizarre, then give this a go. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.