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Shadow Dance Paperback – August 1, 1996

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Paperback, August 1, 1996
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Originally published as Honeybuzzard (LJ 1/1/67), Shadow Dance launched British author Carter's career, which she buttressed with The Magic Toyshop two years later. Both received praise from LJ's reviewers, especially the latter novel, which was hailed as an "extraordinary, even brilliant piece of writing" (LJ
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Angela Carter's writing is pyrothechnic - fuelled with ideas, packed with images and spangling the night with her starry language. She brings the gift of wonder OBSERVER The boldest of English writers LORNA SAGE A great writer ... A real one-off SALMAN RUSHDIE --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (August 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140255249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140255249
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,647,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Eric Anderson on January 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
This novel is a peripheral view of monsters. One monster being Honeybuzzard, the nasty showy boy who routs through abandoned buildings and takes girls for granted. And the other is the once beautiful girl who has been horribly disfigured and looms in the background of much of this novel as a threatening figure. We see this through Morris, the good-natured but morally corrupt man who tends to mix himself up in trouble. This book introduces a lot of the central themes Angela Carter works with in her later novels. What is truly poignant about it is its setting in the counties of England in a place Carter will depart from and never return in her worldly travels of fiction. Although all of her fiction is concerned with the ways in which women are perceived and treated by society, this novel is the most concerned with an awareness of the violence which accompanies the feminine. The monsters are, as always, really storybook characters, the big bad wolf chasing little red riding hood. But, again like always, under Carter's hand they are not so plastic as that. Each character is innocent and guilty, virtuous and corrupt, powerful and weak. It is because we hold within us these binaries that we are human and so sympathetically related to all the characters of the fairy tales because we have the capacity within us for extreme emotions. Honeybuzzard says: "I like - you know - to slip in and out of me. I would like to be somebody different every morning. Me and not me. I would like to have a cupboard bulging with all different bodies and faces and choose a fresh one every morning." The identities that people wear shift constantly and if we aren't attentive to the way in which they change we will be damaged. The mystery of this novel is not the morality of the terrible deformation of the woman, but whether she is truly beautiful or ugly. And, of course, she and we are both.
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By A Customer on September 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you've never read anything by Angela Carter, don't start here. Shadow Dance is a decent read with some arresting and haunting images and situations, and it won a major book prize, but it's not "typical Carter", and if it had been the first of her books I'd read, I probably wouldn't have been interested in reading any others. Like several of her other early novels, it's basically a character study of the people surrounding a disruptive personality. In this case, there are two terribly vicious people (Honeybuzzard and Ghislaine, his victim), and a circle of pub companions and their families in a depressed British city. It's told through the eyes of Morris, Honeybuzzard's best friend and sometimes alter-ego, who is occasionally appalled by his companion's behaviour, can't quite manage to be as terrible, and finds himself consumed with guilt when he tries. It's worth watching the sparks fly, but the novel is nothing more or less than a beautifully-written soap opera. Carter did THAT better a few years later in "Love", which is mercilessly gorgeous and sharply nasty, and quite a bit shorter than "Shadow Dance". Her fans will absolutely and categorically want to read "Shadow Dance", and it *is* worth the time, but if you're not a fan yet, pick up "Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories" instead.
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Format: Paperback
"Shadow Dance" is purportedly an atypical Angela Carter novel. It isn't about a make-believe world of magic and fantasy that's ruled by freaks and half humans but starkly rooted in the crumbling order of lower class society in an unnamed English town where bloody minded beatniks, thieves and loafers are the dominant human specimen. Carter's first novel is boldly contemporary, dealing with issues confronting a society that's undergoing a radical change of values and throwing its inhabitants into a perpetual state of anomie, where the old sits uncomfortably alongside the new. Hence, you have poor old Edna driving Morris bonkers with her resident martyr act which only serves to unleash the lurking cruelty beneath the subterranean of his mind. Contrast this with Emily's ruthless and singleminded focus on the here and now. Honeybuzzard's criminal instincts and his lack of moral centre is both frightening and damning in its implications for a society still finding its new equilibrium. Even Morris, Honeybuzzard's alter ego and quite the only character with any conscience at all capitulates and abandons his quest for justice. "Shadow Dance" is an impressive first novel by the celebrated Carter. Her heady and razor sharp facility with words lends that extra zing to this coming-of-age tale of cruelty. It won't be long before I tackle one of her later works which promises to be different but equally entertaining.
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Format: Paperback
Angela Carter introduces the reader to a London that isn't talked about in the tourist guides. It is the London of detached working class men and women scruffing out a living. The book centers around two friends. Morris is married to Edna, but rarely goes home to her. His best friend, Honeybuzzard is an eccentric figure. Physically attractive but emotionally blunted, he sails through life, using everyone around him for his own purposes. Morris and Honeybuzzard haphazardly run an antique store, stocked by their forays into abandoned houses where they steal the items they sell.

Honeybuzzard has been away for several months. A promiscious woman who slept with both the men and most of their acquaintenances, was found raped and cut horribly about the face. Ghislaine has now returned to the neighborhood after getting out of the hospital, horribly disfigured. The rumour mill says that Honeybuzzard may have been the culprit, although the offical report blames a roving gang.

Honeybuzzard has also returned, with a new lover, Emily, in tow. The book follows the lives of these characters as they meet and fall apart and struggle into new configurations.

Shadow Dance is Angela Carter's first book, and it is my introduction to her writing. The writing is stark yet compelling, and her deft touch introduces characters that inhabit the mind long after the last page is read. This book is recommended for fiction readers.
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