Nyx Book Reviews

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Review: Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan le Fanu

Title: Carmilla
Author: Joseph Sheridan le Fanu
Series: None
Rating: 4/5 Stars

112 pages
Expected publication January 1st 2014 by Hesperus Press
Review copy received from the publisher

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Carmilla is an 19th century vampire novella, set in Austria. It tells the story of a father and daughter that live in a schloss (castle) together, and that get a mysterious house guest in the form of a young girl called Carmilla. But of course, since her arrival things seem to be going wrong. Laura has severe nightmares, and she’s getting weaker every day.

Carmilla resembles Dracula (which was written about 20 years later) in many ways. The atmospheres are the same, even though the narration is a bit different. No letters and diary entries here, just a story told in first person by Laura. The schloss in the middle of abandoned woods was creepy and beautiful, two adjectives that can describe the whole book.

With just one hundred pages Carmilla is more of a novella than a full-size book, which can easily be read in one sitting. For people that are not used to reading historical fiction but that enjoy reading about some old-fashioned, through and through evil vampires, this short book would be perfect. There are also some strong lesbian-romance undercurrents in the relationship between Laura and Carmilla, which might be of interest to note. The language in Carmilla is very pretty, and in my opinion easily accessible for a modern reader.

Recommended for lovers of vampires in the Dracula tradition.


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.

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