Friday, August 10, 2007

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Rating: 8/10

Published: 1872
Number of pages: 152
ISBN: 1587155958

Started: 4 August 2007
Finished: 6 August 2007

Summary (taken from

A chilling tale of the un-dead, Carmilla is a beautifully written example of the gothic genre. The story takes the reader into the dark, mysterious world of a girl and her family tormented by visitations and nightmares. While the continual reoccurrence of a beautiful woman, unknown, yet familiar, meanders through the lives of the characters, to the very heart of the story, the precise use of language emphasises and heightens the images that the book presents and sends the reader spiralling towards its bloody conclusion. Said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker's gothic masterpiece 'Dracula', Carmilla stands out as a classic horror masterpiece.

I thought this was a wonderful book and can easily see why it was the inspiration for Dracula. It's beautifully written and the descriptions of the 'schloss' and the surrounding countryside are simply mouth-watering. Having said that, I did struggle a little with the style of writing at times - I like to be challenged though!

It was always going to be interesting to read this book because Dracula became an immediate favourite of mine the first time I read it. This one stood up well, although it was perhaps lacking in some respects; because it is so much shorter than Dracula, I feel that the story and characters weren't developed as fully and I was left with some unanswered questions at the end.

One thing that surprised me a little was the graphic nature of Laura and Carmilla's relationship - I didn't expect the writing to be so risque coming from that time period! I think in this respect Carmilla was more graphic than Dracula.

I would highly recommend reading Carmilla, particularly if you have read and liked Dracula. The differences and similarities are interesting to note.

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