The gothic story is narrated by a young woman Laura preyed upon by a female vampire named Carmilla, later revealed to be Mircalla, Countess Karnstein. Laura lives in a picturesque and solitary castle amid an extensive forest in Styria. Her father is a wealthy English widower retired from service to the Austrian Empire.
HGenerally acknowledged as a major influence on Bram Stoker's Dracula, this novel, originally published in 1872, is the very first vampire thriller. Le Fanu, often compared to Poe, was a Victorian writer whose tales of the occult have inspired horror writers for more than a century. Seemingly by happenstance, the mysterious and beautiful Carmilla comes to stay with the young and virtuous Laura. Laura, who has been living a lonely existence with her father in an isolated castle, finds herself enchanted with her exotic visitor. As the two become close friends, however, Laura dreams of nocturnal visitations and begins to lose her physical strength. Through much investigation, the gruesome truth about Carmilla and her family is revealed. Though the basic premise of the story, that of evil targeting pure innocence, is familiar to anyone who is vampire savvy, this haunting tale is surprisingly fresh, avoids clich and builds well to its climax. Particularly interesting are the sexual overtones that develop between the two women. Follows's reading is flawless. In particular, her ability to capture Laura's na vet so convincingly will have listeners feeling almost as shocked as Laura as the unwholesome truth unravels.