Welcome to the second installment of Carmilla-ween! This time, we’re bringing it back to the source material. The POMEcoven Book Club has been getting into the Spooky Season with the original Hot Lesbian Vampire Tale: Carmilla, by J.T. Sheridan Le Fanu. And to share this Good Word with all of you, we’re bringing back Literary Hot or Not—this time with 100% more goths.
There will be spoilers for this novella from 1872, so if you’d like to avoid that, we recommend that you check it out for yourself—the audiobook is available for download from most public libraries, it’s only 3 hours long, and it’s a great way to spend an evening.
Picture it: an incredibly secluded Austrian castle, 1863. You’re 19 years old and the only people you have to hang out with are your dad and two sweet old ladies. Suddenly! A carriage breaks down at your portcullis and you decide to take in this Hot And Mysterious Stranger as she recuperates from the crash (talk about U-hauling).
“a beautiful young lady, with golden hair and large blue eyes, and lips—your lips…” – Carmilla, describing Laura
CC: Middlingly hot — the hottest girl in your youth group, maybe, but not the hottest girl in your graduating class.
Rachel: Hot, but in a very boring kind of way! The kind of hot you just glaze right past. As soon as Laura leaves the room, we could probably all agree that she was pleasing to the eye, but not be able to describe a single thing about her.
Ashley: Pretty, but not hot: an inverse Laura Palmer, woefully closeted, naive and sheltered, prone to filling in gaps in a conversation with musings on her distant noble lineage. She survives though, so there’s that.
Jenny: Not Hot. All this talk of “you people who live in towns cannot possibly understand true loneliness” has a real Phoebe from Magic School Bus “at my old school” vibe. Also, she DOESN’T want to become a vampire and live forever with her hot vampire girlfriend?? I will never understand her.
Carmilla (AKA Mircalla Karnstein)
“She was above the middle height of women…slender, and wonderfully graceful…Her complexion was rich and brilliant; her features were small and beautifully formed; her eyes large, dark, and lustrous; her hair was quite wonderful, I never saw hair so magnificently thick and long when it was down about her shoulders…It was exquisitely fine and soft, and in color a rich very dark brown, with something of gold.” – Laura, describing Carmilla
CC: Hot until you go out to eat and she is rude to the server and/or flirts with and then eats her. Tammy 2 hot.
Rachel: Fuckgirl hot. Would make out with in the back of the club, would not want to maybe introduce to my friends or my parents. Gives off the vibe of “boundaries??? I don’t know her” but would still maybe be worth it. Maybe.
Ashley: Hot evil gf all the way. Seduces young virgins with her low, mellifluous voice and well-concealed episodes of “insanity,” i.e., sapphic horniness. Also I cannot get over this cunning linguist pulling one over on the rustic villagers for 100 years by just jumbling the letters in her name up over and over.
Jenny: Objectively Hot. I mean, also selfish and manipulative and conniving. Has a lot of bad opinions about Class and the relative value of peasants. But, she can turn into a cat—hot cat girlfriend. Sold.
“My father, who is the kindest man on earth, but growing old…who enjoyed the picturesque…who piqued himself on being something of a physician”
CC: Not initially hot but becomes hotter over time due to increased exposure.
Rachel: Maybe because I am in my 30s now but I love a DILF, and I would say that Laura’s father is real DILF material.
Ashley: Hot in the conceptual vein, not necessarily physical reality, of a skeptical Brandon Fraser before encountering mummy stuff. Has a kind of “hardcore athiest science guy” vibe that is a sexy flavor of deeply annoying, like you know he would want you to slap him around, but would also transparently try to make it seem like it wasn’t his idea.
Jenny: Love a sweet dad. Fancies himself a doctor. Pretends he knows stuff about art. Can’t totally remember how Shakespeare goes, but still willing to give it a shot. Relatable. But perhaps because of that relatability: not hot? Not a Hot Dad™. But still good.
“A lady…richly and gravely dressed, and with a stately air, like a person of rank“
CC: As pretty much every character in this book calls out her stature and her “fine figure,” yes, hot; big tiddy vampire MILF is absolutely hot.
Rachel: My interpretation of Carmilla’s chaperon/mother/servant person is that she probably was hot in her youth, otherwise I doubt she would have attracted Carmilla’s attention. Based on Carmilla’s obvious bias towards feminine beauty, I picture her “mother” as a faded movie star, still struggling to prove her worth and beauty to Carmilla and others. TDLR; probably hot.
Ashley: I may be in the minority here but I do not find Madame’s imperious Very Busy CEO manner attractive, although maybe if she sounded more like Carrie-Ann Moss…
Jenny: I’m never sure whether Carmilla’s “mother” is Carmilla’s vampire maker and the mastermind of these elaborate grifts, or if she’s Carmilla’s familiar (the Renfield/Guillermo enchanted servant) whom Carmilla uses as a Cool Adult who will buy her beer/convince old men to let her seduce their daughters. But either way MILF.
“Madame Perrodon was fat, middle-aged, and romantic, and talked and sighed poetically.”
CC: Anyone who can sigh poetically is at least a little hot.
Rachel: She deserves only good things!! Wife goals and life goals, imo.
Ashley: Hot Earth sign babe vibes! She would pamper you endlessly! We also love a multilingual who is not good at English.
Jenny: I love her.
Mademoiselle De Lafontaine
“Mademoiselle De Lafontaine—in right of her father who was a German, assumed to be psychological, metaphysical, and something of a mystic…”
CC: Not hot but well-dressed and ominous enough to achieve something better than hotness: disconcerting crone vibes.
Rachel: Hot. Honestly love a mystical spinster who is here to teach your kid manners AND read your tea leaves.
Ashley: Not hot in my opinion, she seems really fake! If she was a real mystic she would have known right away that the concurrent ghost sightings and mysterious plague were not coincidences!
Jenny: Hot vampires aside, I have to say that Perrodon/De Lafontaine is 100% my ship here. A soft romantic and a harsh mystic working together to raise a child in a secluded Austrian castle—where’s their romance novel??
“He had grown thinner; something of gloom and anxiety had taken the place of that cordial serenity which used to characterize his features. His dark blue eyes, always penetrating, now gleamed with a sterner light from under his shaggy grey eyebrows.”
CC: Spooky weirdo; bad at storytelling; not hot.
Rachel: Maybe used to be hot, but that was before he got weird. Paranoia is never a good look, even when you’re right.
Ashley: Self-deprecating, high imperial military rank, too obsessed with gossip to notice his niece’s seduction by vampirism. Not hot.
Jenny: I don’t trust this guy. Talked a little Too Much about how his ward was in the fresh bloom of youth. Definitely not hot.
“one of the strangest looking men I ever beheld…He was tall, narrow-chested, stooping, with high shoulders…His face was brown and dried in with deep furrows…His hair, long and grizzled, hung on his shoulders. He…seemed to wear a perpetual smile”
CC: Polarizing ugly-hot. Hot if you like spooky Catholic ambiance and dating monsters in video games. Not hot if you are too tired to invest your energy in cultivating a relationship with a textbook tortured sadboy.
Rachel: Only dentists have perpetual smiles, and I am a known dentist-hater. Not hot.
Ashley: Actually I’m obsessed. “Livin La Vida Loca”—specifically that scene in the music video where Ricky Martin gets hot candle wax poured on him—was probably written about the baron. Has a young James Woods weirdo self-assuredness that I admittedly lust after. In all honesty, I really don’t know how I’ve avoided being murdered by a cult leader at this point.
Jenny: Not Hot. Vampire hunters will never be hot. I mean, it doesn’t help that all of the men in this book are Old and Weird. But also what did you expect from a book about Hot Lesbian Vampires?
We hope we’ve inspired you to consume a little more Hot Lesbian Vampire content this October. Carmilla: A Vampyre Tale is genuinely a great quick read, and it came out 26 years before Dracula, so who’s the true OG vampire??
If you want more of this content, there are a few Carmilla movie adaptations/spinoffs: Blood and Roses (1960); The Vampire Lovers (1970), its sequel Lust for a Vampire (1971) and prequel Twins of Evil (1971); and Carmilla (2019), which has been covered on POME by the exceptionally talented Alejandra. Also, there’s a Youtube web series that Jenny remembers being a big deal at her women’s college in 2014.
And if you still can’t get enough, here are a handful of other forays into the more general Lesbian Vampire genre: Dracula’s Daughter (1936); Vampyros Lesbos (1971); Daughters of Darkness (1971); Coming Out (2000); Eternal (2004); Bit (2019). For books, there’s The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez. And if you like to have fun and don’t mind reading plays, “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” is pretty good, we hear.