And still I persist.
I really generally don’t like stories based on myth and fairy tales, unless! there is a full rendering of the ins and outs of the stories. I think The King Must Die is one of my favorite novels and just does such a satisfying retelling of the Theseus myth. It’s a very satisfying novel. And I read The Robber Bride earlier this year and it was great!
And this one has satisfying stories: “The Bloody Chamber” and “The Company of Wolves” are both very good stories. But the rest of the collection is….well, fine, but it’s just not very strong in general.
I guess my issue with any collection of stories that borrow from fairy tales and myths is that I don’t feel like there’s a clear purpose behind it. Sure, you can get at the psychological elements of why we tell myths and fairy tales, but that doesn’t always mean an interesting story. Instead, essays do a wonderful job at explaining and interrogating these questions. But since they’re already stories….what is that you’re adding to the experience exactly? So that’s where I am with this one.
And I don’t automatically let it off the hook just because it’s a well-written piece. “The Bloody Chamber” is a well-written piece, rich and authoritative, but it also tells a compelling narrative. It feels like such a precursor to recent novels like Uprooted by Naomi Novik and Undermajordomo by Patrick Dewitt. Anyway, I should continue to avoid these kinds of book….but they’re so inviting…so short and well, it had a gorgeous cover.