book reviews by Althea

Carmilla – Joseph Sheridan LeFanu ****

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This month’s book club selection, so I went up to the attic and dug out my old childhood copy of this… How very, very excellent is the cover art on this edition? (1971 Scholastic).
The negative aspect of this edition is that there are no introductory notes or even anything about the date that the story was written (classy, Scholastic).
Still, this is a classic vampire story: a must-read, and worth a re-read.
I personally feel that the lesbian aspect of the story has been overemphasized – there are only a few times it crosses the line over from that old-fashioned ‘my very dear friend’ kinda thing… so don’t expect too much in the way of eroticism.
But LeFanu achieves a psychologically complex and morally ambiguous tale, as he tells this story of a lonely young woman who invites a stranger into her home and her heart.

Structurally, there are a few aspects to the story I feel could be better, and a few oddly unanswered questions… but hey, it was written in 1872, and was so very influential and historically important that any possible failings are only to be forgiven.


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