It's Friday so today's library essential is a fiction book, The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories by Angela Carter. If it isn't the number one most referenced fairy tale related fiction, it's certainly in the top five. The Bloody Chamber is a collection of short stories by Carter interpreting fairy tales for an adult audience. It is not light reading. It is not easy reading on the emotional level at all, although the prose itself is very readable. Carter's work has been studied over and over again and will continue to be so. This book continues to influence fiction writers who play with fairy tales, too, directly and indirectly.
I had heard of the book and was strongly recommended it by my mentor when I was finishing high school. It was a shocking experience--not comfortable at all--when I finally read it and I was glad it had taken me a few years to find it. (I was a young student and ignorant of interlibrary loans or special ordering. I grabbed the book when I finally saw it sitting oh so casually on a bookstore shelf.)
The title story, "The Bloody Chamber," is a Bluebeard retelling and the version that most impacts my own impressions of the tale. It is why I first annotated Bluebeard when SurLaLune was in its conceptual stage instead of choosing my beloved Beauty and the Beast instead.
Anyway, this is a slim volume and easily accessed these days. If you are serious about fairy tales in modern times, you need to be familliar with this book. It's dark. It's gloomy. It's not my usual taste, but it cannot be missed.
And once you've read it, there is a ton of scholarship out there to find including Angela Carter and the Fairy Tale (Marvels & Tales Special Issues). If you don't own either, I'd order both at the same time. It just saves time and shipping.