The Bloody Chamber
by Angela Carter
This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. I take back what I said about short stories. Angela Carter uses exactly the amount of text she needs, no more, no less, to convey a compelling story in its satisfying entirety.
In these fairy tales re-told, she explores the juxtaposition of human and beast: a beast who turns into a man, a man who turns into a beast, a feral girl, a puss in boots. Sometimes she tells a well-known story in several different ways to explore new aspects of it. Sometimes she mashes them together into a new tale, so you can't really tell which fairy tale it is, but you know the rhythms nonetheless.
She can be graphic quite often, as she explores the natures of sex and violence, but it is done in such a poetically simple way, never hiding it behind convoluted, over-romantic embellishment, nor making it abusively stark. She uses the exact words she needs to explore that moment of transformation for her characters.
Over all, I think it was one of the most compelling fairy tale adaptations I have ever read. "The Tiger's Bride" and "Puss-In-Boots" were my favorite.