‘Tis difficult to express my love for Carmilla Karnstein in words, but I shall try.
Carmilla was written in 1871, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. He based it on the letters of Veronika Hasusle and Doctor Peter Fontenot. Veronika would espose her love for Marcia Maren, a young lady sent away at the beginning of the Ten Year’s War. The two believed that they shared a dream world, having similar dreams before they even met. They’d leave wild roses on each other’s pillows, and years later, after a short lifetime of feminist advocacy, Veronika died in childbirth clutching a wild rose. Marcia had been executed for lesbianism.
All of this was most likely fabricated by Carmen Maria Machado in the introduction of the most recent edition. If there are records of Veronika’s activism or Marcia’s execution, they are not available online, causing several fans to doubt it. Plus, Machado happens to be an anagram for Marcia, so…
She fabricated this for obvious reasons. One, to highlight the myth in the 17-1800s that lesbians were seductive predators that had to be executed. Two, to clarify from the start that this is lesbian literature, that vampires belonged to queer women to express the forbidden yet alluring nature of desire.
The novel itself chronicles Laura and Carmilla’s dreams and relationship. They appear to have the same illness as several girls in the area; an illness manifesting itself in demonic dreams and punctures in the neck. A creature seems to lurk outside the house at night; a dark creature they cannot identify. Laura’s father summons doctors and discusses the illness behind closed doors.
Fast forward to the YouTube adaption. It is the early 2000s and Laura’s roommate has gone missing. Enters Carmilla: a pale, broody new roommate that doesn’t get up til late and leaves bloodbags on the floor. She does not care about the missing roommate, Betty, and is annoyed when Laura enlists the help of her TA Danny to investigate the connections between Betty and a few other girls that went missing at parties. Soon Laura starts getting dreams about blood, one of the signs of the disappearing girls.
I hate Laura. She is a typical Bella that has no hobbies but the business of others. She breaks Carm’s heart on several occasions, most notably when she expects Carm to be a hero that redeems herself rather than accepting her for the vampire that she is. Carmilla deserves better.
For a while there was a semi-relationship between Laura and Danny, and they’re quite compatible. They’re outgoing hero types invested in the whole mystery of Silas and they care about each other. I don’t see why Laura left her for Carmilla. I mean, I love Carmilla and see her as the bloodthirsty force of darkness that she is. Laura doesn’t, so Laura should leave her alone.
Aside from those three, there’s also LaFontaine, a nerdy bio major who is dorm monitor along with their best friend Perry, who’s a nervous uptight type that just wants everything to be safe and normal. There’s JP, a scholar who was absorbed into the school library in the 1800s. There’s also a couple of frat boys who think it’s their responsibility to keep the campus safe, Danny’s sorority sister/rival, and the evil Dean.
I love LaFontaine. They’re passionate about science and experimenting with new ways to keep the campus safe. They’re logical yet daring and loves their friends. They are more of a background character that’s usually there to simultaneously smack some logic into things and provide comic relief.
I low-key ship LaF and Carmilla, just to see the nerdy side of Carmilla come out more, more grounded fights about how to fight the Dean instead of Laura and Carm’s fights over the other’s acceptance of each other, and just more interaction between my faves. Not that don’t also stan LaF as an asexual, or in a polyamorous trio with Perry and JP. They never say their identity exactly, just that they reject their assigned gender.
I love both the novel and the series, I just don’t love Laura as a main character.
Are you in the Carmilla fandom? Should new editions of classics be altered to have a more feminist stance? What do you love about vampires and other supernatural beings?