“Carmilla” by Sheridan le Fanu

When a mysterious girl moves into the isolated manor where she lives with her dad, Laura is very happy to finally have a friend. But the girl seems to be hiding something. Does it have anything to do with the deaths of girls in the local village?

Carmilla is one of the earliest works of vampire fiction. It was released in 1872 by Irish author Sheridan La Fanu (who once lived in Limerick!), meaning it predates even Dracula. Because of that, it’s slightly less of a mystery story to those who read it today than it was to readers back then, who were likely unacquainted with the genre.

This doesn’t make the book any less gripping though. La Fanu manages to create an aura of tension and terror that will still both terrify and delight the modern reader. The secrets, the mysteries, the dark-and-stormy-nights, will all make the reader feel like they are discovering vampire fiction for the first time. Even though the tropes have since become somewhat tired, La Fanu uses them to perfection.

Not only is the book enthralling, it’s also cosy and romantic. It seems like an odd combination, but it works. If images of staying in on a stormy night drinking hot cacao and the idea of falling slowly in love with a close friend are your thing, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Most modern adaptations describe it as a horror-romance, and, while the romance part was likely not promoted at the time due to homophobia, it certainly fits the genre.

Best thing of all is that the book is available for free online due to copyright running out (though I bought a physical copy myself due to how much I love it!) It’s also short, and relatively easy to read. I definitely recommend it!

By Saoirse McInerney

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