Review by Resa Haile
In 1872, twenty-five years before the publication of Dracula by Bram Stoker, a vampire tale by another Irish writer saw the light of day. This story was Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. It is not difficult to find a copy today, as it is included in many vampire, ghost, and horror anthologies, as well as being published in slender book format on its own.
The true heroine of the tale is not Carmilla, but the narrator, who “bear[s] an English name.” She and her father come to the titular character’s aid when the lady (apparently) suffers a malady while traveling with her mother. The mother is on “a journey of life and death, and cannot stop,” so it is arranged for Carmilla to come and stay with the heroine and her father.
Bram Stoker acknowledged the debt he owed to his predecessor. As Dracula would later later do, Carmilla cultivates a personal relationship with her victim. With the increase of intensity in Carmilla’s devotion, the object of her affections becomes more listless and unwell.