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Carmilla
     

Carmilla

3.6 31
by J. Sheridan LeFanu
 

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The story is presented by Le Fanu as part of the casebook of Dr Hesselius, whose departures from medical orthodoxy rank him as the first occult doctor in literature. The story is narrated by Laura, one of the two main protagonists of the tale.

Laura begins her tale by relating her childhood in a "picturesque and solitary" castle in the midst of an extensive

Overview

The story is presented by Le Fanu as part of the casebook of Dr Hesselius, whose departures from medical orthodoxy rank him as the first occult doctor in literature. The story is narrated by Laura, one of the two main protagonists of the tale.

Laura begins her tale by relating her childhood in a "picturesque and solitary" castle in the midst of an extensive forest in Styria where she lives with her father, a wealthy English widower, retired from the Austrian Service. When she is six years old, Laura has a vision of a beautiful visitor in her bedchamber. She later claims to have been bitten on the chest, although no wounds are found on her.

12 years later, Laura and her father are admiring the sunset in front of the castle when her father tells her of a letter he received earlier from his friend General Spielsdorf. The General was supposed to bring his niece, Bertha Rheinfeldt, to visit the two, but the niece suddenly died under mysterious circumstances. The General ambiguously concludes that he will discuss the circumstances in detail when they meet later.

Laura is saddened by the loss of a potential friend, and longs for a companion. A carriage accident outside Laura's home unexpectedly brings a girl of Laura's age into the family's care. Her name is Carmilla. Both girls instantly recognize the other from the 'dream' they both had when they were young.

Carmilla appears injured after her carriage accident, but her mysterious mother informs Laura's father that her journey is urgent and cannot be delayed. She arranges to leave her daughter with Laura and her father until she can return in three months. Before she leaves she sternly notes that her daughter will not disclose any information whatsoever about her family, past, or herself and that Carmilla is of sound mind. Laura comments that this information seems needless to say, and her father laughs it off.

Carmilla and Laura grow to be very close friends, but occasionally Carmilla's mood abruptly changes. She sometimes makes unsettling romantic advances towards Laura. Carmilla refuses to tell anything about herself or her background, despite questioning from Laura. Her secrecy isn't the only mysterious thing about her. Carmilla sleeps much of the day, and seems to sleepwalk at night. When a funeral procession passes by the two girls and Laura begins singing a hymn, Carmilla bursts out in rage and scolds Laura for singing a Christian song. When a shipment of family heirloom restored portraits arrives at the castle, Laura finds one of her ancestors, "Mircalla, Countess Karnstein", dated 1698. The portrait resembles Carmilla exactly, down to the mole on her neck.

During Carmilla's stay, Laura has nightmares of a fiendish cat-like beast entering her room at night and biting her on the chest. The beast then takes the form of a female figure and disappears through the door without opening it. Laura's health declines and her father has a doctor examine her. He speaks privately with her father and only asks that Laura never be left unattended.

Her father then sets out with Laura in a carriage for the ruined village of Karnstein. They leave a message behind asking Carmilla and one of the governesses entreated to follow after once the perpetually late-sleeping Carmilla wakes up. En route to Karnstein, Laura and her father encounter General Spielsdorf. He tells them his own ghastly story.

Spielsdorf and his niece had met a young woman named Millarca and her enigmatic mother at a costume ball. The General's niece was immediately taken with Millarca. The mother convinced the General that she was an old friend of his and asked that Millarca be allowed to stay with them for three weeks while she attended to a secret matter of great importance.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940014521475
Publisher:
DB Publishing House
Publication date:
04/17/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
109
File size:
244 KB

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Carmilla 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haven't really read any other vampire books, but I really enjoyed this. The author did a great job of creating an eeire atmosphere. I reccomend it to anyone who likes creepy stories. Oh, and I read this in a couple of hours...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A hauntingly descriptive book....but in such a beautiful way. Definitely worth a read if you are questioning it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read about 80 books a year. Most are reference. Sometimes, a novel comes with such a wonderful recomendation, that I will make the attempt and commit to the first chapter. A Vampyre Tale was everything promised. I could not put Carmilla down until I had finished it. It is a well told story that uses brilliant language and vivid discriptions. I have not read very many vampyre tales, but I have read a great deal of good books. This is one of the better narratives for its time (1872?). Brilliant and enchanting, this book draws the reader into the romance and deception that are required for a vampyre to survive. The enraged father that realizes his daughter was taken by a vampyre posing as a friend, and his relentless work at tracking down the monster are a great addition to the story. In the end of the story, I felt bad for everyone involved. It will make you think. It will test your vocabulary and your appreciation for a well turned piece of prose. I highly recomend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love modern vampire books that don't involve frills and glitter, if you know what I mean, so I decided to give a story that was written in the later half of the 18th century. I was not disappointed! I will admit the english was a bit hard to follow with it being 18th century style but it gave an air of elegance and mystery that modern english would not to this spooky vampire tale! It is not much money at all and if you are looking for a good quick read, check this one out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Owning an audiobook version from Librivox, I often listen to this story while falling asleep. It's a little bit of a guilty pleasure for me, as I can't shake off the notion that it's target audience wasn't exactly males. Having read the "Not PG" review, I felt it was necessary to share some of my own thoughts on the book. Mostly to balance other reviews and not as much to review it myself. This isn't a horror story as most would understand the term. Most of the story reads as a friendship between two girls, Laura, the daughter of a semi-nobleman and her houseguest, the beautiful but odd Carmilla. They pass most of the story as friends in a remote "schloss" (a small castle as far as I imagine) enjoying each others company while Laura's health slowly declines. There's a definite atmosphere, but calling it haunting or erotic isn't exactly the truth. It seems to linger between creepy and pleasant. I would go so far as to say there ARE slight lesbian undertones, but only on a platonic level (if that makes any sense at all) Carmilla on occasion goes on how much she loves her friend, in a way that only a gothic vampire could. As I mostly fall asleep before the final chapters, in my mind it remains a story about two young girls with a friendship that is very deep and rewarding for both, but quite taxing and possibly fatal for one.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Predating the classic 'Dracula', this book does not disappoint. Everyone at some point in their life needs to read this story and get a taste of the original vampires. No sparkling, werewolf fighting vampires here. Just a wonderful story about two girls; one who happens to be a vampire. Also a very short read!
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Math_prime More than 1 year ago
Carmilla is an excellent and unique story. I read it after reading, Dracula (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) by Bram Stoker, Brooke Allen (Introduction). Carmilla is mentioned in Brooke Allen's introduction and notes. Clearly, Carmilla was a pivotal influence on the 'legend' of vampirism and the books that followed. As Brook Allen accurately mentioned about Dracula, Carmilla also depicts the conflict of conservative belief and deviant behavior during the late 1800's. What is still puzzling is that this publication of Carmilla is 108 pages, vs. 417 pages for the above mentioned publication of Dracula. Was the cost of book publishing and affordability in the late 1800's significantly different where fewer thick books were sold, or did economic conditions change during the twenty-five year lapse between the two book's publications? Or was there another reason for the somewhat short story, Carmilla? Perhaps short stories were favored at that time. I wish that Carmilla was much longer, so that characters and their relationships could have been developed more fully to complete such a wonderfully unique story.