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Carmilla and Other Tales of Mystery: And 12 Other Classic Tales of Mystery Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451526392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451526397
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 1.1 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,452,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I liked this book, but probably not quite as LeFanu intended I ought. The majority of stories are ghost tales, longer and less punchy but more engrossing than those of M.R. James, but with a very similar atmosphere. Most striking is Carmilla, an amusing Gothic story about a female vampire and her relationship with the narrator, her innocent girlfriend. Modern times have robbed the story of much of its horror, and Carmilla becomes as much an object of sympathy as a pure villain - a fact that raises new questions rather than weakening the tale. Like Gormenghast, it is easy to dismiss such writing as plain silly - much of the story IS rather daft - but the charm of the stories remains, provided that the reader enters into the spirit of the book. LeFanu's style is not great - he is rather wordy and his prose a bit "purple", but the meticulous construction of his stories makes them worth reading as exercises in plot alone. His clear love of the atmosphere he builds shows through, and it is refreshing to find a book in which the gothic is not played for laughs. Overall, this is a pleasing collection of stories with a few real highlights. Its atmosphere and style inevitably mean that it will not have much appeal to many people, but fans of the macabre and antiquated will find it a worthwhile purchase. Like Stoker's Dracula or a good Hammer film, it is highly entertaining, simultaneously chilling and slightly camp.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on July 18, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
J. Sheridan Le Fanu is a master of ghost and horror stories. His style is gothic. The protagonist might be a young woman without family and friends. The setting is lonely and isolated, often a decaying manor or castle. A growing sense of malice and evil emerges as the story unfolds. Le Fanu was able to transform this trite formula into remarkably suspenseful stories that haunt the reader long afterwards. All thirteen tales in this collection are enjoyable on many levels: suspenseful horror, well-crafted plots, and interesting characterizations.
Le Fanu's novels are noted for their leisurely pace, for their wordy and discursive style. His short stories are tighter, but still reflect Le Fanu's care in developing the setting and the atmosphere. I enjoy Le Fanu's antiquated style; it somehow adds verisimilitude to the accounts.
The Evil Guest, the longest story in this collection, is quite successful as a suspenseful mystery, but what makes it memorable is Le Fanu's description of one man's descent into evil and eventual insanity.
The Murdered Cousin is a traditional gothic story in which a young woman is entrusted to the care of an evil uncle. Le Fanu later expanded this tale into his most popular novel, Uncle Silas.
Schalken the Painter, Green Tea, Mr. Justice Harbottle, and Sir Dominick's Bargain are among his most admired stories and are frequently encountered in anthologies. Although superficially they share a common theme about demonic visitations, all four tales offer unique, imaginative aspects that make them classics. I find Schalken the Painter and Green Tea to be especially frightening. Mr. Justice Harbottle is a story of demonic retribution, retribution fully deserved.
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1 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I special ordered this book because I thought it would be really good. I read the reviews and some how got the impression that it was a sensual vampire story. It was a vampire story that dragged on a little to much. It was also vague, and not so sensual at all. I got the feeling that this story tried to capture the elegence of Dracula, but failed. I was shaken because I expected so much more.
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