English language

Published Sept. 6, 2021 by Pushkin Press.

3 stars (2 reviews)

Carmilla is the original vampire story, steeped in the sexual tension between two young women and gothic romance.

A deluxe gift edition of the cult classic that predated and greatly influenced Dracula and much vampire literature that followed, including Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles.

In an isolated castle deep in the Austrian forest, teenaged Laura leads a solitary life with only her father, attendant and tutor 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 entrancing new companion, one defined by mysterious happenings and infused with an implicit but undeniable eroticism. As Carmilla becomes increasingly strange and volatile, prone to eerie nocturnal wanderings, Laura finds herself tormented by nightmares and growing weaker by the day...

53 editions

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 …


  • Lesbians
  • Vampires
  • Fiction, horror
  • Fiction, mystery & detective, general
  • Austria, fiction
  • Vampires, fiction
  • Gothic Fiction
  • Horror
  • Ireland, fiction