By Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
When I was about 8, my mom went about getting rid of several crates of books she'd collected over the years. It was an annual thing to clean house by making a Goodwill donation stop. Of course I couldn't understand why she'd get rid of so many, so on our way there I dug through the crates. This particular book stood out to me, so I kept it and read it. The cover I posted in this article is the edition of Carmilla I found. There was something very alluring about the way the illustrator drew the girl's red hair. To this day I am glad I kept that book, because it became one of my favorites.
Some stories reach through time and refuse to age. The language used in them is neither overly-flowery nor simple. Carmilla is one of them.
Don't let the many erotic covers, the Hammer adaptations (pumped up with 3 times the sexuality, thanks to the gorgeous Ingrid Pitt) or loose interpretations of Carmilla fool you. It is a wonderful novella from the Gothic period which serves as one of the best ways to introduce a person to the style.
It is about Laura, a young girl telling of her experiences with a beautiful woman named Carmilla. Admittedly, there are some erotic undertones to that element. But what I find strangest about Carmilla, is that there is one particular aspect of the story that gets taken and used in the countless film/television adaptations of Dracula. Despite her lack of humanity and the darkness that lurks behind Carmilla's nature...I always felt she loved Laura. She genuinely loved her in a small way only a soul-less monster of the night could.
The atmosphere is excellent, the story is a classic. If you are an avid fan of anything vampire-related, but you aren't yet ready to tackle Dracula or Varney, this is the perfect stepping stone into the classic genre.