Review: Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

17738894Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu is a standalone novel that was published in 1872. This review will be spoiler-free.

Predating Bram Stoker’ Dracula, Carmilla is the ultimate gothic vampire tale—stylish, menacing, sensual, and spellbinding

You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one for ever.

When a mysterious carriage crashes outside their castle home in Styria, Austria, Laura and her father agree to take in its injured passenger, a young woman named Carmilla. Delighted to have some company of her own age, Laura is instantly drawn to Carmilla. But as their friendship grows, Carmilla’s countenance changes and she becomes increasingly secretive and volatile. As Carmilla’s moods shift and change, Laura starts to become ill, experiencing fiendish nightmares, her health deteriorating night after night. It is not until she and her father, increasingly concerned for Laura’s well-being, set out on a trip to discover more about the mysterious Carmilla that the terrifying truth reveals itself.  (Synopsis from Goodreads)

Eerie. Mysterious. Classic. A Victorian vampire story that everyone should read.

While this story doesn’t present the reader with any new information, it is one of the best vampire stories I have read. It predates Dracula by more than 20 years. It is a quick, easy read. Unlike most Victorian novels, the language is easy to understand even now. I flew through this novella in just over an hour.

As someone who does not enough anything spooky or creepy, I enjoyed this novel. There was only one scene that sent shivers down my spine, but even that one was not too bad. Though, I think for its time, it was probably much creepier than it is today.

The vampire in this story very different than any other vampire I have read. It also does not keep a lot of the traditional vampire legends.

Laura was a plain main character. There was nothing about her that stood out to me. She felt very much like every other leading lady from this time period. I wanted something more from her, but I am not surprised by the way she was portrayed.

Camilla was so interesting! I loved her instantly. She was secretive and strange and I wanted to know so much more about her. And I wasn’t the only one! Her mystery was talked about throughout a lot of the story.

I felt the ending was pulled together too quickly, but I still liked it. I just wish there had been more drama at the end. I wanted more details on the vampire and how they lived and fed. The few things we were told are drastically different than the modern vampire stories, which made it that much more interesting. 

I really enjoyed this novella and gave it 4 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend it to both classic lovers and vampire lovers.


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