extremely horny and creepy takes on folk tales with gothic vibes to the max

I first read this book for an undergrad class, which was a mistake because I saw it as homework rather than a work of art. Just read this horny description of a fucking nightdress.

My satin nightdress had just been shaken from its wrappings; it had slipped over my young girl’s pointed breasts and shoulders, supple as a garment of heavy water, and now teasingly caressed me, egregious, insinuating, nudging between my thighs as I shifted restlessly in my narrow berth.

I’m glad to have read it again (thanks to a recommendation by Mattie Lewis) because I now have a deeper appreciation of rich prose you can sink your teeth into.

She herself is a haunted house. She does not possess herself; her ancestors sometimes come and peer out of the windows of her eyes and that is very frightening. She has the mysterious solitude of ambiguous states; she hovers in a no-man’s land between life and death, sleeping and waking, behind the hedge of spiked flowers, Nosferatu’s sanguinary rosebud. The beastly forebears on the walls condemn her to a perpetual repetition of their passions.

This is the opposite of the kind of prose I’m capable of writing, so it’s delicious to see an anthology that excels in it.

Over the years, I had fallen prey to the temptation of writing stories as if they were a visual medium, emphasizing dialogue and action at the expense of atmosphere, worldbuilding, and character internality. I blame my years of writing on AO3 for that. I know I’m not alone because a lot of speculative fiction seems to also overlook the value of beautiful prose.

This trend is discussed on the Rite Gud podcast episode No Plot Just Vibes:

Many writers overemphasize the importance of plot. They focus on plot so much they forget about everything else.

So yeah, The Bloody Chamber is an oldie but a goodie. If I’m not mistaken, it’s usually shelved under literary fiction, but I think it’s horror adjacent. There’s too much blood and sex for it not to be. Read it if you want unbeatable S+ tier vibes.