This was the very first vampire thriller! Pure innocence becomes the target of age-old evil. Virtuous Laura has grown up in a solitary castle and longs for a close friend. Her wish seems granted with the arrival of a beautiful and mysterious stranger named Carmilla. A friendship develops but the brooding mood and sexual overtones mar Laura's happiness. Will she escape with her life and spirit? Megan Follows' brilliant reading perfectly evokes the dramatic atmosphere of this Gothic Victorian tale. This tale was the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula!
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Very Old, Very Dark, Very Good
Great novella, great reading, censored text
Yes, but with a caveat: the text has been censored. The prologue, reported by "Dr. Hesselius" -- an occult scholar, a kind of proto-psychoanalyst ("Carmilla" lends itself well to a psychoanalytic reading) -- is missing; and an unpleasantly racist passage from chapter 3, a throwaway remark about a hideous companion of the mysterious women (unnecessary for the story, but necessary for an unabridged edition) has been cut.
"Your mother warns you to beware of the assassin!" Mothers lurk on the edges of this tale, all of them vampires. Roger Vadim's take on this dream scene in his adaptation "Blood and Roses" is unforgettable (you can find the sequence online).
Laura's first, childhood dream: creepy as hell. And of course, every scene where Carmilla is being languorous.
The very end, after the silly "alliance of fathers" (the weakest part of the novella) has done its job: "The following Spring my father took me a tour through Italy..." It is wonderfully ambivalent: "often from a reverie I have started, fancying I heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing room door."
Megan Follows is the perfect reader for this, it's just sad that the text has been altered: minus one star overall for this.
- Robert R.