By J. Sheridan Le Fanu,

Book cover of Carmilla

Book description

In an isolated castle deep in the Austrian forest, Laura leads a solitary life with only her ailing 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…

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Why read it?

6 authors picked Carmilla as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Although it’s a vampire classic, a surprising number of people don’t know about Carmilla. It’s a little older than Dracula and its sapphic themes are as they are.

What’s fun about it though, is the setting and small number of characters. Personally, I had no idea what schloss was, but it’s a castle, in this case a lonely one. Poor sheltered Laura describes her life, and the few people she knows, in careful detail, before it’s all turned upside down by their pretty new guest.

“Young people like, and even love, on impulse.” An influence on Dracula and obviously open to LGBTQ readings (usually made more explicit in film adaptations) this vampire novella finds the fantasies of a lonely teenage girl spiraling out of her control. Laura longs for a ‘friend’ to share her dreams with and is initially overjoyed when she gains one in unexpected circumstances. But should she be worried that her new house guest Carmilla bears an uncanny resemblance to the evil Countess Mircalla, supposedly buried in nearby woods nearly a century ago? This is an insightful study into the volatile and…

From James' list on supernaturally troubled teenagers.

Carmilla predates Dracula by twenty-six years, and was first published as a serial in The Dark Blue, later reprinted in Le Fanu’s short story collection, In a Glass Darkly published in 1872. It’s the first lesbian vampire story and was made into a film called The Vampire Lovers by Hammer, starring Ingrid Pitt and Peter Cushing in 1970. 

Le Fanu’s Carmilla is often credited with being the ‘first’ vampire, which isn’t the case because John William Polidori’s The Vampyre was published in 1818, beating Carmilla by more than sixty years.

The story tells of a dark romance between vampire…

Many people haven’t heard of Carmilla even though it predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by more than 20 years. This masterful Gothic novella is a pioneer book in two subjects: Vampires and lesbian literature. Because it’s such a hidden gem and groundbreaking book, it’s definitely one of my favorites. 

What I especially love about this book, and his writing in general, is the juxtaposition of the light and darkness of the characters, his poetic descriptions, and the haunting atmosphere of mystery and growing anxiety of evidence of the supernatural.

From Amie's list on that will give you goosebumps.

Short and strange and seductive and sweet, Carmilla is one of the very first works of vampire fiction – called oupires for most of the novella – written almost 30 years before Bram Stoker’s Dracula. When a beautiful young woman crashes her carriage outside Laura’s family house, Carmilla becomes her companion, and their relationship becomes intense fast. Carmilla targets young women, exclusively, but she wants something deeper with Laura. Laura describes being both fascinated and afraid of Carmilla; these feelings are, ostensibly, because Carmilla is a vampire, but the way she describes her feelings is so reminiscent of being…

From Kristen's list on when something queer’s afoot.

If we were seeking a vampiress of unparallel virtue, we need look no further than an Irish author with the unlikely name of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, who was the next to fall under the spell. He wrote the novella Carmilla (1872) for In A Glass Darkly – said to be possibly one of the greatest vampire stories of all time – but this time creating the most famous female vampire in the genre. Le Fanu’s description of how a person becomes a vampire is based upon authentic folk beliefs from Eastern Europe, and in this novella, Bram Stoker found…

From Suzanne's list on vintage bite for vampire lovers.

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