My Girl

by Sophia de Augustine profile

2024

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Number of Reviews: 2
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
His first love is the Sea—she is the only woman who would never disappoint him., July 8, 2024
by OverThinking
Related reviews: Love/Violence Jam

Sophia has taken Bluebeard and made it genuinely tense again. I forgot, while reading it, that I knew how the story ended—had in fact written a version of it myself—so engrossed was I in the characters and their stifling dynamic. The well-known tropes of the Bluebeard story (the bodies, the key, the blood) are understated here, which allows the centering of a different aspect of the horror: the violence simmering under even the tender moments in an abusive relationship.

Santiago makes for one scary Bluebeard. Physically imposing, sexually aggressive, and socially controlling, he epitomizes just about everything that makes a man dangerous. His aloofness and preoccupation with the sea mixed with his possessiveness of Carmilla make him unpredictable and difficult to get a read on. This effect is only heightened after Carmilla finds the corpses of his previous wives, when she joins us in questioning the motive behind his every word and action. Does he know? Surely he must. Surely it must be written all over her face and he’s just biding his time, waiting for the most painful moment to strike. As the heat increased, I found myself holding my breath before clicking each link, even though I knew he would die and she would not. The story had me entirely invested.

For me, the story never quite reaches a boil. I loved every moment of it, but I ache for some catharsis. All of the physical violence happens offscreen, and our protagonist never quite manages to claim her own victory. I know this is true to the original story, though, and I recognize that Carmilla’s powerlessness is part of the horror (and very Gothic, for which Sophia and I share a love).

The prose is beautiful, as usual for Sophia. It elevated the story for me, and I found the overall experience to be a tense, enjoyable, heart-pounding ride.

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