Saturday, August 30, 2014

Review: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Argh! I really wanted to love this book. And I went in expecting to love it. I was excited--filled with anticipation. And then...Well, it really turned out to be a slog.

Amazingly, I was not, prior to reading the first of this collection's stories, familiar with the Bluebeard tale. Obviously, post investigation, I admit to having encountered various "Popular Culture" references to the story, but I read Carter's version with very fresh eyes. Nevertheless, I thought the build up did not match the denouement, and the whole "Mother rides in on a charger" thing just had me sort of going..."Un, how far til I get to The Company of Wolves?"

That story (TCOW) was the basis for one of my favorite movies of the 80s (actually, according to wiki, Carter wrote the screenplay based on her own story). If you've seen the movie, you know what a strange child I am admitting to having been. If you haven't seen the movie, rent it! Go in for the werewolves but stay for the giant teddy bears, Neil Jordan, and Angela Lansbury's ferrets.

Unfortunately, TCOW was next to last in this collection (with only Wolf Alice--which I suspect also worked its way into the movie TCOW) trailing after it like a sad coda. In between were what felt like innumerable reworkings of Beauty and the Beast--some played disappointingly straight and one where the couple turned out to be tigers. (?) There was a Puss in Boots story that I admit to liking better than the movie (FULL DISCLOSURE: Carter's P-in-B has nothing to do with the Pixar movie). But my one shiny favorite here was The Lady of the House of Love. It was one of those stories that really reminds you of something you can never quite put your finger on).

Needless to say (altho I shall say it), Carter writes magnificently. I've punished myself with some poorly written works of late, and her command of the English language was a very welcome respite. But ultimately I was piteously disappointed by the collection over all.

View all my reviews

Friday, August 1, 2014

Review ~ Seven Suspects by Michael Innes

Seven SuspectsSeven Suspects by Michael Innes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I went back and forth with this one. I read it after "overhearing" (or whatever the internet equivalent of eavesdropping is) the author of one of my favorite series (Charlie Cochrane, Cambridge Fellows) say it was one of her influences.

It is definitely an old-school locked-room mystery, which are not my favorites. But it's main crime was the introduction of a flurry of suspects (all dons/professors/instructors/or whatever the British term is, at a fictional university) which I never felt I got sorted, even by the end. They all remained a blur, not because the author didn't craft them, but because he threw them at me in a bunch and I spent the rest of the book feeling like I was trying to crawl out of a dogpile of suspects (and it certainly seemed like there were more than seven of them).

But I very much enjoyed the Scotland Yard man, and I liked the local cop even more--wished there was more of him. The actual solution to the puzzle was a bit over the top (and, by a bit, I mean, REALLY!), but all-in-all a fun denouement.

If the British cozy is your thing (altho there is one scene of a physical confrontation on a foggy quad that livens things up) you should definitely check this out.

View all my reviews