The Reading Life mentioned it. Two things mainly caught my eye. Sheridan Le Fanu was actually Bram Stroker’s contemporary, and Mel mentioned something about lesbian vampires. These two things combined really fascinated me. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the thought of lesbian vampires during the prudish Victorian era.
Laura lives with her father, a nanny, a governess, and a host of servants at a remote castle in Styria. Their closest neighbors live miles away, so Laura lives a life of isolation. Through an accident, a visitor named Carmilla arrives in their midst. Unbeknownst to Laura and her family, Carmilla is a bringer of sinister tidings.
I thought Carmilla was very predictable. It didn’t have me on the edge of my seat, like I first thought. I predicted how it would end, and didn’t feel gratified that I was right. I did consider, though, that today’s pop culture has desensitized me in a way. I’ve seen so many horror movies and read so many thrillers that nothing feels original anymore. I’m pretty sure that Carmilla must have shocked readers when it was first published, and I tried to keep that in mind while reading.
I did like Le Fanu’s portrayal of a “lesbian” relationships—a little peek into a Victorian’s views on same sex relationships. Sure, the whole “relationship” was justified by the fact that vampires tend to attach themselves emotionally to their prey, but the attachment between Laura and Carmilla was very believable.
Overall, Carmilla was a fun, little novella that completely entertained me. You can download a free copy from Project Gutenberg if you have the time.