Books Read in 2015 – 17. Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

eclecticreader15 Genre: Horror, Classics, Vampires Narrative Style: First person. Introduced as if part of a doctor’s case-notes Rating 3/5carmilla-240 Published: 1871 Format: Kindle Reading challenges: Eclectic reader challenge 2015 – genre: A story written before I was born. Synopsis: Laura and her father live in a solitary castle in Austria. One night, they witness a terrible coach crash and are persuaded to look after the victims daughter as she is considered too ill to carry on. Strange night time occurrences and appearances begin to bother Laura although she doesn’t immediately associate them with their new guest.  This early vampire story – which pre-dates Dracula by some 26 years – seems quite old-fashioned now. It is a story that has seeped into popular culture. Unfortunately when you then read the original version, it is hard not to feel it is a little predictable. This only shows the extent of the influence of Le Fanu’s story. I particularly enjoyed the opening with its creepy descriptions of the surrounding area and the hints of empty villages and deserted castles. The scene was very effectively set for what was to come. When a friend of the family’s daughter dies in mysterious circumstances just as she was about to visit Laura and the equally mysterious Carmilla appears just days later, the reader knows that something is not quite right. Equally, I found the build up of tension between Laura and Carmilla convincing and interesting. Laura is both attracted and repulsed by her guest and cannot put her finger on why. Carmilla is prone to strange romantic longings with Laura as their focus. These episodes are unsettling to Laura and probably would have been to readers at the time. However, momentum does not quite hold up and the revealing of Carmilla’s vampire status is a bit of an anticlimax. The General – the friend whose daughter died – recounts his own experience with Carmilla in a nearby ruined village. When Carmilla appears, he attempts to attack her but she is too strong for him, thus proving that she is indeed a vampire. At just the right moment, a vampire expert and hunter appears who just happened to know where the hidden tomb of Carmilla is. This ending seems a little rushed and underdeveloped. It’s a shame because I had enjoyed it up until that point.

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