A present-day web series, based on the 1872 Gothic vampire novella, gets a prose adaptation.
Laura, newly arrived at an Austrian university, investigates the disappearance of her roommate, which is covered up by school administration. Her suspicions rise when she’s quickly given a new roommate: the snarky, mysterious Carmilla. Laura’s initial relationship with Danny, a female teaching assistant, is superseded by an attraction to Carmilla even after she discovers that Carmilla is a vampire. Overall, the translation from web series to novel is less than smooth. The writing lacks sophistication, and humor which plays well onscreen falls flat on the page. Remarkably, while the web series has narrative reason for taking place solely in Laura’s dorm room (it’s here she films her video blogs chronicling the investigation), the novel largely follows suit without the same excuse. Though Laura’s identity as a lesbian is well-portrayed, the genderqueer representation of one of her friends is abysmal: LaFontaine’s pronouns are introduced halfway through the book and the whole matter is handled awkwardly, especially in connection to their friend’s difficulty with their identity and name change. What’s more, although they don’t identify as male or female, no one raises questions when LaFontaine is one of five “girls” to be kidnapped—not even LaFontaine. All characters seem to be white.
Fans hoping for a novelization equal to the caliber of the original web series will be sorely disappointed. (Fantasy. 14-17)