BOOK REVIEWS

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Le Fanu, who to his own discontent was proclaimed as being ‘the Irish Wilkie Collins’, is celebrated for having written one of the first vampire stories. One of the most discussed aspect of ‘Carmilla’ is not the vampirism itself as much as the fact that both the vampire and the victims are female. I was expecting a Gothic and atmospheric tale but I found Carmilla to be a lacklustre story one that has not aged well. Modern readers are accustomed to the idea of ‘vampires’ and in Carmilla nothing comes as a surprise. Carmilla’s vampirism isn’t shocking or even amusing like it would have been if Collins had written it. The trope that Carmilla has created doesn’t do the original story any favours.
Carmilla, the eponymous ‘villainess’ of Le Fanu’s novella, should be the embodiment of female sexuality. She should be monstrous and powerful. But she simply comes across as needy and creepy. Her masculine attributes are overshadowed by her childlike mind. Her obsession with Laura was completely insipid.
Le Fanu’s characters are as bland as their background. His writing offers nothing remarkable.
A short and predictable tale.

My review: 2 stars

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