A modernised, college-set revamp of Le Fanu’s Carmilla? I was intrigued from the get-go, and was not disappointed!
Book: Carmilla by Kim Turrisi
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC provided by NetGalley free of charge. All opinions my own.
A quick disclaimer to start with: I haven’t seen the web series this is based on, so I can’t judge how accurate a novelisation it is, or if it brings anything new to the table. This review will purely be on the book’s own merit (though I would now like to watch the series!).
Okay, with that out of the way, I can shout about how much fun this book is! Sure, it’s not going to win any awards for having super deep things to say about the world, but it’s joyously silly and just a pleasure to read! I ate it up in one sitting. Essentially, the plot is that Laura and Carmilla (from Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic vampire novel), instead of meeting in a Gothic castle, are actually college roommates. It doesn’t follow the plot of the original Carmilla particularly closely from there, but I very much enjoyed all the nods! Bonus points for making it clearly and obviously F/F, too – the original book really started the idea of lesbian vampires, so it’s cool to see it updated where that can actually be played out in a modern relationship!
Other reviews have pointed out the issues around the misgendering of a genderqueer character by their so-called ‘best friend’, and Perry learning to accept LeFontaine is a fairly major subplot, which may be uncomfortable to read for some. I thought it was interesting to show that tension on the page, but I understand the criticisms about its inclusion, and would urge you to read ownvoices reviews to get a more rounded picture on that subject.
The college atmosphere and fun adventure elements actually really remind me of a tabletop RPG I’ve played with some friends, called East Texas University, where college kids have to solve various supernatural mysteries – and it would be silly not to compare it to an episode of Buffy! I think this is where the lack of depth criticisms that I’ve seen in other reviews come in – despite the college setting, it’s way more Season One Buffy than Season Four. Just a light, fun adventure, which was everything I wanted from this!
Essentially, if you’re looking for a nuanced and detailed vampire novel, this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a quick burst of entertainment that rollicks through a bunch of vampire and college tropes, then this is going to be just right! It’s fun, it’s silly, and it made me want to watch the webseries!
Four out of five cats!