Monday, January 16, 2017

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu book thoughts


"A classic Victorian vampire novella, which influenced Bram Stoker's later treatment of the vampire mythos in Dracula."

My thoughts

I decided to pick this book up when I heard about it, because as far as I know original vampire story (pre-dates Dracula) and lesbian vampires at that. While that is all well and true, and I did see how Bram Stoker used it for the vampire mythos in Dracula, it ultimately fell flat for me, though I do think a big factor in that is how old it is.

For whatever reason I expected more out of it than I should have, and I know that's my fault. I was often taken out of the story to look up words and it felt very pretentious. I get that that has to do with being written in the 19th century, I guess that's how they talked then. It was mostly easy to read though, quick and was atmospheric sometimes. Mostly I just found it monotone, forgetable and eventually non-climactic. It was also extremely predictable, would be for anyone now-adays I think but at the time I understand it wouldn't have been most likely being the first vampire story and all. Even though it is the original so this obviously wasn't the case then it felt like "trope trope trope trope trope soooo predictable"...and boring. It is a quick read and i'm glad I read it, I don't regret it. I learned a couple words and learned how the vampire stories got started and all that. The start of the vampire stories, where Bram Stoker got ideas for Dracula, and lesbian vampires (super huge for being in the 19th century!) I am very grateful for it and glad I read it, it just feel flat for me now over 100 years later, but i'm glad it exists. I gave it 3 stars. I didn't dislike it but I didn't really like it either.


  1. Personally, I think people today make a little bit too much out of the lesbian aspect in this book than maybe they should without elaboration. When I read the book, I noticed that for the most part the lesbian relationship seemed one-sided (not entirely, but you were also never sure if Laura's interest was due to vampiric compulsion or true interest and she never really got a chance to fully figure out her own feelings before everything went sideways). In addition to that, there really isn't anything titillating about it, either, which is something I think people often imply with the way that they go on about it. It's definitely noteworthy, not just because there are still not enough books involving lesbian relationships even today, but 100 years ago? Yeah, I get that's a huge deal and I'm definitely with you on being glad that the book exists! Even if I hadn't liked the book so much myself, I would still be glad because of the lesbian aspect being so unheard of and unlikely to show up in a book back then.

    Also, as an aside, did you notice the weird comment from Laura about the carriage crash, where she swore she saw a black woman in the carriage just before the crash? It's kind of a throwaway in that it never gets elaborated on or mentioned again, and I get that blatant racism 100 years ago is hardly a shock, but it really did strike me as weird and surprising anyway. Especially since the woman, if she was ever there or not, was never mentioned again. o.O

    1. Yeah, people making such a big deal about the lesbian aspect of the book is a big part of why I expected more, but at the same time I do see how it being there at all for the time period was great.

      I really do need to work on my reviewing, i'm trying but I need to get better at that. I'm mostly doing it for myself but want to do the best I can, especially since I do make it public.

      Yeah now that you mention it I remember the comment, I was so bored through-out most of the story and it never being touched on again I forgot about it. o.O That is weird.

      I'm glad it exists for what it did for Dracula and vampires, and even though the lesbian relationship not being much of anything is great for the time period, I just don't think it really holds up well today. I hope that makes sense.. o.O