Well I’m on the second full day of my summer holiday to Ibiza, and I’ve just finished one of the books on my holiday TBR list. Carmilla was an interesting read, in that I can’t quite decide what my overall opinion of the book is. So delve further in with me while I try to ascertain what exactly I thought of Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu!
My Initial Impression of Carmilla
Well written and easy to read quickly, I found it interesting to read a vampire book that not only predates Dracula but also looks at a non-heterosexual relationship – something I find a lot of authors struggle to do unless they themselves have questioned their sexual identity. Or identify within the LGBTQ+ community. But if you’re interested in this particular genre, I would say that Carmilla is worth a read.
Related: Cross Stitching by Holly Pritchard Book Review
A Brief Summary of Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu
The narrator, Laura, tells of being a young girl living in a castle with her father somewhere in Styria who is looking forward to a visit from one of her father’s friends. With this friend is some company for Laura who lacks a companion of her own age. Instead, this visit does not happen but through circumstances they are introduced to another young girl, Carmilla. Carmilla is a very secretive and charming young lady, who both attracts and repulses our heroine. As the story continues, a sickness affects a lot of the young females in the village and soon Laura also becomes ill. Throughout this part of the story, you are left wondering will Laura survive or will she become just another victim?
About The Author
Sheridan Le Fanu was an Irish writer of gothic tales, mystery novels and ghost stories, most famous for his novel Uncle Silas. Carmilla was first published in 1872 and has served as an inspiration countless books, from Bram Stooker’s Dracula and Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and a slew of films such as Hammer Horror’s Karnstein Trilogy. His novel, Carmilla, has been the inspiration behind the YouTube mini series that I am currently obsessed with.
Terrifying, eerie and pre-dating Dracula, Sheridan Le Fanu’s seductive original vampire story about a young isolated girl’s encounter with the beautiful, mysterious Carmilla brims with passion and danger, with a hint of gothic romance.
Being written in 1872, the idea that both Laura and Carmilla may end up being lovers is subtly suggested repeatedly throughout. That being said, it was probably wasn’t considered subtle in the 1870s and so would’ve been very shocking for the readers when it was first published! I think this is one of the values that drew me to Carmilla as a novella. Unsure how it would be portrayed in a 19th Century piece of work, I was intrigued to discover just how obvious the underlying same-sex theme of Carmilla would be. In answer to this, it’s not as obvious as we would expect in our modern times. As in, it’s certainly no “lesbians answer to 50 Shades of Grey”. However, what I liked was there didn’t seem to be any overwhelming concern from Laura that she may not be what people considered “normal”. Although she was “repulsed” by the thought of it, she did nothing to dissuade Carmilla’s advances.
Would I recommend you read Carmilla? Probably yes. Especially when I already rave about the YouTube series. But I wouldn’t necessarily rush to tell you all about this book, but if someone were to ask me if I’ve read it then I would say yes and encourage them to give it a try. Does that make any sense? I hope it does. I mean, Carmilla reads well and gave me goosebumps every now and again. From the moment I began reading Carmilla, I was instantly transported to a beautiful gothic castle in the midst of a lonely estate, albeit in my mind’s eye but you know what I mean. The hints of lesbianism were enough to keep me intrigued, but not strong enough for me to worry about family I’m closeted with to see me reading it. The protagonist, Laura, is quite mesmerised by the beauty of Carmilla, and that’s about the extent of the romance theme.
The novella, Carmilla, is quite short and therefore may not strike a chord with modern readers who are well versed with the Vampire Myth thanks to media’s role in popularising this. If you’re thinking along the lines of Twilight, I hate to disappoint but this is not at all similar. It can be quite a predictable read however it does offer a couple of scares here and there and in that sense it would be the perfect Halloween read. Just not quite a summer holiday poolside read.
All in all, it was a pleasant read for by the pool, even if the theme is more suited to some October sun if reading while abroad. In the meantime, what shall I read next? Grey? Mom Con? Who knows! But now it’s time for a post lunch swim. And maybe a little bit of a nap. The hotel has undergone major renovations over the winter and on the majority we are happy with the new and somewhat improved Sol Beach House Ibiza. The staff we loved are still here and gave me my “special mojito” (more alcohol than anything else) on our first night, and they all remembered us when we arrived at the hotel! The only downside to the changes would be the dining room but I’ll give you that information when we get home from the holiday. So keep an eye out for that review coming soon! If you want to have a look at the hotel, and maybe book a trip for yourself then check out Sol Beach House Ibiza here.
Have a nice day whatever you may be doing! And remember to watch Carmilla on YouTube tonight!
Thanks for reading
A view from my sun lounger