Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu Review

Hello Reader,

I finally read Carmilla after Lauren (Where There’s Ink There’s Paper) and I discussed the book after she read it last year. After a little stalk on Lauren’s blog, I realised that was over a year ago… but hey I finally listened to it.

Cute little history fact for you dear Reader Carmilla predates Bram Stoker's Dracula by 26 years. Having read and listened to Dracula first it is very clear that Stoker took inspiration from this Carmilla and there are moments in the book that feel familiar. Carmilla is the original vampire story, steeped in sexual tension and gothic romance.

The story is set with a backdrop of a castle deep in the Styria Forest were Laura and her poorly father live an almost solitary life. There is even a rumour dear Reader that Dracula's Guest, a short story written by Stoker had a deleted prologue also set in Styria. The story is written eight years after the events at the castle and we know only what Laura knows, which is very little. Even at the end of the story, we never find out what Carmilla’s motives were and we never know who or what her mysterious attendants were or know how and why Carmilla picked Laura.

Carmilla arrives late one evening after her horse-drawn carriage crashes. Carmilla arrives with a mysterious attendant and pretends to be too unwell to travel. Carmilla’s attendant, pretending to be Carmilla’s mother, talks Laura’s father into looking after Carmilla until she can return to collect her. With the help from her “Mother” Carmilla manages to insert herself into Laura’s family home and prey upon Laura.

It does not take too long for a friendship to form, between Lauren and Carmilla, I mean Laura's life seemed pretty mundane before Carmilla arrived. Carmilla’s strange nocturnal behaviour is having an effect on Laura who is now having nightmares and is “mysteriously” getting weaker as each day goes by. One thing I loved about Carmilla is that the vampire not the withered and evil entity but a beautiful stranger that is instantly accepted into someone’s home.

I would like to give a little shout out to Baron Vordenburg for not only being the vampire expert in this book but for being a predecessor for many vampire hunter/expert characters in vampire fiction without Baron Vordenburg there is no Van Helsing in Dracula.  Baron Vordenburg has devoted his life to the study of vampire lore, and he turns up in time to help save Laura. Without spoilers I will say that the vampire lore in Carmilla is different and there are nuances to modern vampire lore.

Carmilla is a must read for not only vampire fans but for horror fans too because of how Carmilla has influenced so many other stories in this genre. I mean who doesn’t like striping the lore down to the source material.

L x