My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is exactly what I had expected: a novelization of season 1 of the Carmilla web series. The series is simple, low budget, and charming in its own way.
Sadly this charm did not translate well in book form. The writing was very amateur and bland and I would not have found much to like about this had I not seen the series first. There was very little in this book that developed the characters, which are the most important aspect of this story.
I can honestly say I did not expect much from the book, but I think it just needed more.
Full Review with Spoilers
I went into this book with high expectations. A sapphic retelling of a classic fairytale is something I will always jump on. I was extremely happy to see that this book delivered and then some. The entire story is told from the perspective of Alyce, the traditional villain of Sleeping Beauty. The books acts as much like an origin story as much as it is a retelling.
Alyce is a fantastic character. She is told she is essentially evil and dark her whole life, that she is something other. It was heartbreaking to see how she deals with this her whole life and as much as she tries not to be that person, it definitely shaped who she is. She does what is essentially considered bad things because it is what is expected of her and what she is brought up to believe is the only thing she can do. Aurora is also a great main character. She is a princess and at first glance Alyce’s total opposite. The relationship that builds between them through the book is so well done. It was great to see them connect over their general dislike of everyone around them then it progress to Alyce trying to help her break the curse that will kill her when she turns 21. I loved seeing Alyce’s emotion progress and escalate even if she could quite see it for what it is.
There was a very interesting magic, social structure, and history developed in this book. I especially loved how the decline in ruling from a Queendom to a Kingdom where the queens have essentially given all their power to her husband over time really hinted at the same type of direction the story was going to take. The author did a great job placing these hints and connecting everything in a smooth flow that never felt like an information overload to the reader.
The storyline flowed so very well. There was a fantastic mix of emotional drama, angst and the sweeter buildup on the romance side. The romance was definitely not the focus of the story, though it was very much there. It really focus on Alyce’s build up to becoming a villain. And it was such a ride! Once Alyce crosses that line into actually killing people I have no idea what I should feel. Up to that point we get to see everything that has just been stacking against her and in a way we really see the justification for her actions. I ended the book completely blown away by the turn of events. We see Alyce exactly how we expect, guarding a sleeping princess against a kingdom that hates her.
This was a great retelling that gives the reader a new way of looking at a classic and very well known fairytale. Good story telling and great character development make this an extremely enjoyable read and one you won’t want to put down.
Most movie novelizations are mediocre at best and I honestly did go into this book with the same expectations. It’s a little sad that this book only covers the events through season 1. I do feel I might have had a slightly better appreciation for the book if there was more content. This book also misses out on the opportunity to dig a little bit deeper into the story and characters. The characters are the center of the series andwe didn’t get to truly know them at all in depth.
The writing was flat and felt very one dimensional. The only thing I felt was given more attention than the show provided was Laura’s crush on Danny, which actually got a little too repetitive at times. Despite Laura’s constant swooning over Danny, the writing didn’t really give us any good reason as to why. Laura’s crush on Danny, then suddenly being smitten with Carmilla felt totally out of the blue and just there to be there. None of the developing feelings really got any attention.
The web series definitely had its issues, but you go into it knowing that. It’s low budget, fairly amateur and incredibly short, but it has a charm you can’t help but love. This translates very poorly in this book. It loses all it’s charm and just feels awkward at best.
Had this story been given more attention with a higher level of writing I feel it could have been a worthy read. Bonus if it could have covered more than a single series, giving it real substance. I can safely say: watch the show and skip the book. You get nothing of value from it you don’t get from the series.