Creepy children's book question -- probably Russian/slavic or Middle Eastern
September 28, 2008 10:07 AM   Subscribe

Need help finding a book. I think it was a short stories collection. One of the stories was about a king that left his new bride alone when he had to go somewhere on business. He gave her a keychain with keys to all the rooms and an egg he told her to carry around...

She was allowed to use the keys to open all the doors except one that was specified by the king as forbidden. The king left, she spent days walking around and opening doors and finally, of course, decided to open the forbidden door. She did, saw that it was full of dead bodies (the king's ex brides that ventured into the room?) and blood was all over the floor. She was so horrified that she dropped the egg/keychain and they were covered in the blood now.

All I remember from there is that she spent days trying to wash the blood out of the keychain/(and egg?) so that the king wouldn't find out she was in the room.

Anyone? Any ideas? Am I the only one that read messed up books in my childhood?
posted by icarus to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Fitcher's Bird [Fowler's Fowl]
posted by Sassyfras at 10:15 AM on September 28, 2008

(scroll down to the second story)
posted by Sassyfras at 10:16 AM on September 28, 2008

I think it was a completely different retelling of the story (definitely no wizard), but I also read it in a Russian translation over 15 years ago.

Thank you!
posted by icarus at 10:23 AM on September 28, 2008

A variation of the classic Bluebeard story.
posted by Aquaman at 10:24 AM on September 28, 2008

You can probably find that story in a complete Grimm's - I just read 'From the Beast to the Blonde', which I think is a feminist interpretation of many fairy tales, and the author gives a run-down of this story in her section on Bluebeard (which it is related to, thematically.)
posted by cobaltnine at 10:27 AM on September 28, 2008

There's a Magaret Atwood version, "Bluebeard's egg" which you might be thinking of.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:02 AM on September 28, 2008

Angela Carter's short story "The Bloody Chamber", collected in an anthology of the same name, is based on this folktale as well. But I have a sneaking suspicion that this is *not* the version you read as a child, unless you were terribly intrepid about venturing into the adult section. It also lacks the egg of your version.

Maria S. Tatar's "The Classic Fairy Tales" contains a section on Bluebeard, with several variants including the ones listed by Sassyfras and PhoBWanKenobi.
posted by fuzzbean at 12:10 PM on September 28, 2008

I recall reading something like this, with the bride being caught because she could not wash the blood off the key, in Women Who Run With The Wolves. It has many stories and variations from different cultures.
posted by yohko at 10:42 AM on September 29, 2008

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