A young woman is stricken with increasingly severe nightmares and an unexplained illness after her father takes in a strange guest, a beautiful, beguiling, and oddly familiar girl named Carmilla.
- Lesbian vampires! (Kind of)
- Predates Dracula by 20 years, and is also much easier and engaging to read.
- Starts out strong with a moody castle, a lonely narrator, a strange and scary encounter in the night, and then what feels like a queasily uncomfortable romance.
- Has a very 1800s take on vampires: less powerful than the modern versions, fewer weaknesses, more mysterious and dangerous with a less-defined set of rules. And all with the confidence that they can be dealt with by a bunch of well-educated upper-class men using science.
- Does a fantastic job of exploring the seductive aspect of vampires, without ever needing to become too lurid or too graphic.
- It’s pretty short, but is still literary enough to count against my book challenge!
- The story kind of peters out, with the climax treated more or less like an afterthought.
- Still has, long sentences, separated by commas, as does much of the writing of the 1800s, where the point, as it were, of a sentence, can be lost.
- Lots of intriguing details seeded earlier in the story are left hanging by the end. Who exactly are the various other strangers who were in the company of Carmilla?
- Difficult to tell how much of the story has lost its power due to over a hundred years of vampire stories following.
Very interesting for those of us who were excited by the potential of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but disappointed once we actually read it. It’s probably readable and enjoyable even for contemporary readers (like me) who find Victorian novels to be a slog. But you can also see why Dracula became the definitive vampire novel, as Carmilla has a bunch of components of a great story that doesn’t feel quite complete.