Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu
In an isolated castle deep in the Styrian forest, Laura leads a solitary life with only her elderly father for company. Until one moonlit night, a horse-drawn carriage crashes into view, carrying an unexpected guest – the beautiful Carmilla.
So begins a feverish friendship between Laura and her mysterious, entrancing companion. But as Carmilla becomes increasingly strange and volatile, prone to eerie nocturnal wanderings, Laura finds herself tormented by nightmares and growing weaker by the day…
Pre-dating Dracula by twenty-six years, Carmilla is the original vampire story, steeped in sexual tension and gothic romance.
Being as today is Halloween, I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the day than with a cult classic that went on to inspire such books as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James to The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, not to mention the films under the Hammer House of Horror. I can only be talking about Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873) First published in 1872 and what a stunning new edition that has just been released by Pushkin Press not to mention that fantastic cover. (One you have to see).
Acclaimed as the very first vampire novel, the story is set with a backdrop of a castle deep in an Austrian forest were Laura and her poorly father live in an almost solitary life. The days seem to merge into one for Laura. That is until one late one evening with the moon glowing in the night sky a horse-drawn carriage crashes and now the castle has a beautiful guest that is Carmilla.
Carmilla is to unwell to travel after the accident by chance or design and so she now is a guest of Laura and her father, and it does not take Carmilla too long to settle into her new residence and Laura has become intoxicated with the beautiful visitor. It does not take too long for a deep friendship to form, but it is Carmilla who has set her sights on Laura. Now Carmilla’s strange and also not to mention her nocturnal behaviour is having an effect on Laura who now suddenly finds she is having nightmares and is getting weaker as each day goes by and her strength is waning. Carmilla is beginning to prey on Laura.
The story is written eight years after the events at the castle, and just who were travelling with Carmilla and what was their purpose, what really brought Carmilla to the castle and to prey on Laura?
It is Baron Vordenburg who has experience of vampires that arrives to save Laura from Carmilla’s spell. But for Laura years after the experience Carmilla’s presence is still felt as she is haunted by the beautiful temptress and is that Carmilla’s footsteps she can hear in the dead of night?
If you are a fan of gothic vampire stories then I can really recommend Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu and read how it all began. Highly Recommended.
Thank you to Poppy Stimpson and Pushkin Press for the review copy of Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu.
Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu was published by Pushkin Press and was published on 15th October 2020, priced at £9.99 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.