I was given an ARC copy of Carmilla and Laura in exchange for an honest review.
“I have been in love with no one. And I shall never be in love with anyone, I think, unless it be with you.”
Her lips touched mine. With the gentleness of butterflies upon petals, we kissed beneath the grove of trees, secluded from the world lost in time.
This is an interesting book, it is based on the 19th century gothic novel, Carmilla. The book is wonderful in its breath-taking description and poetic imagery, but I have no idea if what’s in the book is entirely new or just tweaked from the original book. I mean assume a lot of it is new because I don’t think this amount of sweet lesbian romance would be written in the 19th century. Though I also think being inspired by a book written at the time adds to the realism and authenticity of the writing about young women during that time period. I’ve always had a soft spot for classic romances, that pride and prejudice atmosphere of prim and proper intelligent ladies just makes me feel cosy enough to curl up and read as a cat,
The descriptive writing is definitely the book’s best feature. It’s a very easy read, despite the gothic tones it’s mostly a French 19th century romance rather than an actual vampire story. At points it can drag with how much it tries to envelop itself in its historic world but honestly, it’s mostly a lovely read with its great creative writing, it can create an atmosphere for anything from a summer’s day in the way someone dresses to a horrific nightmare in how someone talks.
A minor point is that the introduction and epilogue of the book, (which takes place in modern day) is quite jarring and not well explained. It took me out of the book with how strange it was and I wondered why it was included. The reason its included is because that’s how the original book was set up, yet if it was removed the book may actually be better for it.
While the writing style is an excellent reason to read this book, the plot is not. Again, it makes me wonder how much of the original manuscript was relied on, as the starting point of the plot is contrived to the point of farce which shadows the rest of the book which is quite good.
The main character Laura, an eighteen year old lady, is very passive which becomes dangerously disturbing in parts. She refuses to ask questions of Carmilla even when her childhood friends are being murdered. While this is annoying, there are parts where this passiveness becomes…uncomfortable. Carmilla blatantly wants a sexual relationship with her and Laura just lets her, touch her and kiss her and it makes it seem forceful which I’m pretty sure wasn’t the intention.
Yet despite the main character’s passiveness, the romance does pick up and it is both sweet and heart-breaking, given they cannot be together as Laura’s a woman and Carmilla is you know…a vampire. It becomes very passionate and loving, focusing more on their emotions rather than their actions. But on the other hand, Laura is torn as per the time period about the ‘sin’ she’s committing, it’s really sad.
However, the ending part is both where the story differs the most from the original and is the worse section. The romantic nature of the first two parts which made it a delightful read are gone to be replaced by rushed and heavy exposition. The magical elements are taken to the extreme in a way that reminds me of ‘so bad it is good’ fanfictions. It really puts a downer on what is mostly a decent and lovely book.
Carmilla and Laura is now available for purchase.