Angela Carter – Shadow Dance

And my self-set challenge begins. And man is it a challenge. This was the first time I had read Carter outside of the comfort of the classroom or with the protecting distance of reading it from the perspective of study. I was alone. Just me and Carter’s mind which is a scary place at the best of times. I am a wimp, always have been, my over-active imagination means I can’t keep things I see or read contained to the screen or page. But there I was, barely a chapter in and I have to confess I found myself wishing I had someone, or something (like an essay title), to hold my hand.

I hate reviews which give away the plot, and to be honest Carter’s creations are always so intricate, complex and bewildering I don’t think it would be possible to tell you the complete story even if I had read it a million times over. It has the fragments of female comment that I have come to expect, dashes of myth and legend, and darkness by the bucketful. The blurb says it is a tale of shattered beauty, something it certainly is in its most explicit sense. It also states that it is about male camaraderie, and it does centre around the relationship of Morris and Honeybuzzard, but I couldn’t help thinking – with friends like these two.. well.. enemies seem like an attractive alternative.

All in all it was frightful, but not necessarily in a bad way. Shadow Dance was Angela Carter’s first novel, and it certainly set the standard to a genre she has not only made but made her own. It’s not comforting, in fact it leaves you seeking comfort if anything.. but it is powerful and hasn’t put me off. I just won’t be reading them before bed.


* Shadow Dance (1966)
* The Magic Toyshop (1967)
* Several Perceptions (1968)
* Heroes and Villains (1969)
* Love (1971)
* The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (1972)
* The Passion of New Eve (1977)
* Nights at the Circus (1984)
* Wise Children (1991)


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