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By Angela Carter

'Curiosity is the main fleeting of pleasures; the instant is happy, it ceases to exist and it usually proves very, very expensive.'

Angela Carter's playful and subversive retellings of Charles Perrault's vintage fairy stories conjure up a global of imaginitive girls, black-hearted villains, wily animals and amazing adjustments. In those seven tales, bristling with frank, earthy humour and gothic mind's eye, not anything is because it seems.

This publication contains Bluebeard, Little purple using Hood, Puss in Boots, The drowsing fantastic thing about the wooden, Cinderella: or, The Glass Slipper, Ricky with the Tuft and The silly needs.

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Sample text

Then was there a fearful fight in that dim hall, deep under the water, far from all hope of help. Back and forth the two swayed, the strong warrior in armour and the direful Water Witch. So strong was she that at last she bore him to the ground and kneeled upon his breast. She drew her dagger. Now she would avenge her son, her only son. She bore him to the ground and kneeled upon his breast The dagger shone and fell again and yet again. And then truly Beowulf's last hour had come had his armour not been of such trusty steel.

Thus for twelve long years Grendel warred against Hrothgar and the Dane folk. He prowled through the misty moorland, lay in wait in dark places, slaying young and old. Many were the grisly deeds he did, many the foul crimes. And the mighty warriors, strong of heart against a mortal foe, were powerless against him. Downcast and sorrowful of heart Hrothgar sat among his counsellors. None among them knew how to give him advice or comfort. None knew how to deliver his land from the Evil One. Then the minstrels made mournful songs, and far and wide they sang of how Grendel ever warred with Hrothgar.

For all my joy in life cometh from thee. " Then to the king he gave a splendid suit of armour, helmet and sword, four steeds all with their rich harness, and much treasure beside. To Hygd, the queen, Beowulf gave the collar which Wealtheow had bestowed upon him. Also he gave to her three black steeds saddled and harnessed with gold and silver work. And the king, on his part, gave Beowulf a sword of honour, a palace, and much land. Thus was the mighty warrior brought to great honour. Then for many years Beowulf lived happy and beloved.

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