First published in 1872, Carmilla is a hugely influential vampire story told by a young girl called Laura, starved of the company of children her own age. After a coach crash not far from her castle home in Styria, her family agree to look after another young girl called Carmilla for a period of some months. Laura recognises the girl at once from a disturbing dream from years earlier. And Carmilla admits to having the same dream. In the nearby village the deaths begin.
The enduring literary emblem of the vampire was born when Bram Stoker gave the world Dracula in the last years of the 19th Century, birthed by a century obsessed by the Gothic imagery associated with the darker shadows of folklore and mythology. From the scatological excesses of penny dreadfuls like Varney the Vampyre, the crafted prose of Le Fanu's Carmilla and the like, the groundwork was already laid. Without one or the other of these two mismatched parents Stoker's Dracula would never have entered its creator's brain. But unlike Varney and other Victorian age vampires Carmilla survived to influence horror films and fiction beyond Stoker's famous Count. The 1960s and 1970s was awash with lurid adaptations of the Karnstein saga. If you have any interest at all in the history and development of vampire fiction or you just like well written Gothic fiction you should definitely give this a look. It's a short read and Le Fanu's prose is lighter and more accessible than some of his other works. I think it is one of his finest works