The Wolves of Styria

Paperback, 242 pages

Published Jan. 28, 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

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An appealing charm

3 stars

Sheridan Le Fanu's 1871 novel, Carmilla, predates Bram Stoker's more famous Dracula by about twenty six years and, after having read Pushkin Press' newly published edition, I'm surprised this story isn't much better known. Admittedly it is written in a typically Victorian gothic style so lots of telling description, and a slow pace, but Le Fanu builds up a suitably chilling atmosphere and I particularly appreciated that three of the central characters are female. There might even be hints of an obsessive love affair between two of them.

I wondered whether contemporary readers of the original publication were as aware of the vampiric storyline or if its denouement in a late scene came as a shock to them. Reading Carmilla now, I could see the tropes neatly lining up as the story progressed - although Le Fanu's creatures have distinct differences to accepted present-day vampire lore - so wasn't surprised …