Hennard begins by considering the editorial evolution of The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault from 1977 to the present day, as Perrault's tales have been rediscovered and repurposed. In the chapters that follow, she examines specific linkages between Carter's Perrault translation and The Bloody Chamber, including targeted analysis of the stories of Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. Hennard demonstrates how, even before The Bloody Chamber, Carter intervened in the fairy-tale debate of the late 1970s by reclaiming Perrault for feminist readers when she discovered that the morals of his worldly tales lent themselves to her own materialist and feminist goals. Hennard argues that The Bloody Chamber can therefore be seen as the continuation of and counterpoint to The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault, as it explores the potential of the familiar stories for alternative retellings.
While the critical consensus reads into Carter an imperative to subvert classic fairy tales, the book shows that Carter valued in Perrault a practical educator as well as a proto-folklorist and went on to respond to more hidden aspects of his texts in her rewritings.