Thank you to Pushkin Press for the copy of this book in return for an honest review
Before Dracula there was Carmilla, one of the earliest vampires stories, that helped set the standard for everything that came after and built the foundations for modern vampire stories as we know them today. It was originally serialised in The Dark Blue from 1871-1872, and then released as part of Sheridan Le Fanu’s short story collection In a Glass Darkly, later in 1872.
For the 150th anniversary Pushkin Press have released a gorgeous hardcover edition of the novella, with a tag-line that highlights the influence the novella had on Bram Stoker’s classic. There are a lot of similarities between the two and the influence is undeniable. Anne Rice has also claimed it as inspiration for Interview with the Vampire.
Carmilla is within its own right a classic of Gothic literature. I first read this when I was studying the Gothic in University as part of my Literature course and really loved it. I’ve always had a love of vampire stories and have long held Dracula as one of my favourite books. Carmilla is definitely up there as well and revisiting it now has been exciting. Not reading it for a course, meant I could take more time with it and not rush it with deadlines.
The story is told from Laura’s perspective, who is writing the story ten years after the events happened. Laura lives with her father in a picturesque castle and has an isolated life. A visit from another teenage girl is something she had been looking forward to for a long time, before hearing about the girl’s untimely death. A carriage accident outside the castle, means that another young girl, Carmilla, is invited to stay with Laura. Carmilla is not quite what she seems, and Laura’s health starts to deteriorate.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s dark and twisted and has some surprisingly detailed gory moments. It builds up an atmosphere filled with suspense and is a book I really escaped into.
The story is a must for any vampire fan. It’s a classic for a reason. We are still talking about it, with new editions coming out, a century and a half later. The cover for the new edition is beautiful and if you haven’t already read this tale, then it’s worth reading. It’s haunting and chilling and really has stood the test of time. Don’t be put of by its age the language at points does feel old-fashioned but it’s easy enough to read and once you get into it, you don’t even notice.