This is part 4 of 4 in my recap series for Sheridan LeFanu’s 1872 lesbian vampire novella Carmilla.
Warnings for spoilers and loads of swearing.
Where we last left off, the General was explaining what happened to his niece, people are starting to put two-and-two together about Carmilla and her numerous lame-ass aliases, and they’re getting ready to dig up and behead the corpse of the Karnstein countess.
The General resumes his story about his niece and her illness:
He called in a specialist physician for her. The physician gave the General a sealed letter and told him that he must instantly send for a priest, and on no condition is he to open the letter until the priest is there with him. The General went, “Eh, whatever” and read the letter alone (not that it mattered in any way; it doesn’t backfire on the General, so I’m not sure why it was included). The letter, as you may guess, said that the niece was the victim of a vampire attack.
The General wasn’t sure what to think, so he guarded his niece while she slept. Sho nuff, in the middle of the night, he saw an evil swirling black mass appear on the floor, and it turned into Carmilla/Millarca, so he pulled out a sword and hacked away at her like Mommie Dearest cutting down the tree, only nothing seemed to harm her, and she disappeared into thin air.
In the morning, Millarca had fled, and the niece died.
As Laura listens to the General’s story, she sees Carmilla appear mysteriously in the graveyard. The General sees her, too, grabs the woodsman’s axe, and attempts to go all Gimli on her, except she dodges his blows and disappears.The General finally spells out what Laura SHOULD have understood by now: Carmilla = Mircalla = Millarca. Also, Laura should get her ass to a priest’s house ASAP and never let herself be alone with Carmilla again.
Then some sort of crazy hobo appears in the cemetery, but the General greets him as “Baron” and says he’s an old friend. They do some academic stuff with papers and tombstones, and he’s clearly a prototype for Van Helsing.
Laura and her father go pick up the priest and bring him back to their castle. Carmilla is gone, and everyone is going to stay up all night and watch Laura sleep. Seriously. The entire household. Because that’s not creepy or anything. The priest does some rites around her bed, and exorcises her sex dreams. Awww, man.
They manage to find the coffin of Countess Mircalla, and they open it in the middle of the day, and Carmilla is asleep in there, but she’s floating in seven inches of blood. Gross.
Also, she’s going to have a huge laundry bill.
Also also, why is she sleeping in the blood instead of eating it? That would be like pulling back my covers at night and seeing me sleeping on a bed of mashed potatoes, or something.
In the space of a few sentences, they drive a stake through her heart, cut off her head, and burn her to ash. It all happens very quickly and there is no climax (although I suppose Laura has had enough of climaxing for a while). Everyone is happy forever. Except Carmilla, who just really, really loved her food. Insert quote about stupid lambs and masochistic lions, etc. etc.
Now that all the vampire nonsense is over, Laura wants to talk to us about the Baron, who showed up late in the book and really served no purpose at all, except to resolve all of this as quickly as possible.
Apparently the Baron dedicates his life to tracking down vampires. I guess he lent some books on vampires to Laura, and Laura wants us to know that the myth of vampires being pale is a total lie—vampires appear healthy. Also, vampires are really strong, and I guess their hands contain Novocaine, since they leave you numb after they touch you? Except that Laura didn’t ONCE express this feeling, and she and Carmilla did a buttload of fondling.
Vampires also get ‘cravings’ for food, which present at sexual (NO SHIT). So they’ll start craving one particular person, and get all romantic with them, and won’t be released from their obsession until they’ve drained the person of all blood.
The Baron lets us know how vampires originate: under certain conditions, people who commit suicide become vampires, and then they prey on other people who, after death, become vampires themselves (so does this mean that the General’s niece is a vampire now? That would be a kick-ass sequel). Countess Mircalla was once preyed upon by a vampire, and then she became one.
Laura and her father go to Italy, and she is forever haunted by the memory of Carmilla. Laura dies young.
So . . . wait. Some questions:
-What about Carmilla’s mother? What was that whole situation about? Who was she? Did she ever come back looking for her daughter?
-Who was the ugly black woman in the carriage at the start of the story?
-What about the hunchback gypsy and his amulets?
-Why introduce Laura’s governesses at all? They didn’t do anything.
-Why introduce the woodsman? He didn’t really do anything, either.
-Why introduce the Baron at all, when you could have just had the General learn all about vampires on his travels?
-There’s a whole tiny subplot at the very end of the book about Carmilla having once been in love. It was so tiny I didn’t even bother to summarize it. They hint at this a couple of times during the course of the story, but it’s entirely irrelevant to anything. Why include this?
-Why did Carmilla vamp on 6-year old Laura once and then leave her alone for the next ten years, only to come back and be obsessed with her then? Was it a ‘fine wine’ situation? Did Laura have to mature?
-Who was the unnamed narrator of the non-Prologue Prologue?
-The pacing in the book was WACKADOO. As with so many things I read on this blog, it needed to be way shorter or way, way longer. The last half of the book was rushed as shit.
AUGH, THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD BUT ALSO SO FRUSTRATING
7/10, would boob-bite again