Bloodsucking fiends stalk the cemeteries of London, well at least people who are really into dressing up like vampires, in the latest episode of Houdini and Doyle. Now I’ve been a huge fan of vampires for ages. I even read goofy little kid vampire books when I was still in the single digits, so I was exceptionally excited for the appearance of Bram Stoker and a vampire plot. Now everyone has heard of Dracula, but there’s another vampire who appeared in print that I thought fans of Houdini and Doyle would love to hear about. I present to you, Carmilla.
J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s novella Carmilla was published in 1872, roughly 72 years before Bram Stoker’s Dracula burst forth from his coffin. The stories are both presented as collected materials from a period of time involving a vampire. While Dracula includes letters and diary entries, Carmilla is written as a collected story from the point of view of Laura, though a certain portion is told in the form of a flashback from another character. The title character, Carmilla is a vampire, but while Dracula can control a number of animals, turn into fog, and create minions, her powers are a bit more subdued. Carmilla is able to woo young women as soon as she meets them and she can turn into a black cat. She also can disappear from a locked room when she wishes to travel in secret.
In the novella Laura is living alone with her father and the household staff relatively far away from civilization. She is beset by terrible dreams that involve her being visited in the night and she becomes ill. While her sickness gradually goes away Laura learns that a girl who was to come visit her has unexpectedly died. While out walking a carriage crashes, bringing Carmilla into Laura’s life. The two bond immediately and fall in love, though Carmilla warns Laura that loving her will lead to her death. Oh yeah did I not mention that part, the novella is about a lesbian vampire, though the book is very chaste. At some point Laura begins showing the same signs of the illness that struck down other young girls, which leads to an investigation and the discovery of Carmilla’s true nature.
You can find a modern adaptation of Carmilla on the KindaTV YouTube channel. This time Laura is in college, but this isn’t your ordinary college. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Veronica Mars, you’ll see. Carmilla is also sponsored by U by Kotex, which I personally think is pretty cool. If you want a quick and dirty description of the book you should check out the Carmilla book review from the Slutty Book Club. The lovely Rebecca Liddiard, who plays Adelaide Stratton, has been involved with KindaTV herself and was in their web series, MsLabelled, as Ella.
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