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3.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,250 ratings  ·  164 reviews
"Is it me you love, friend? or the race that made me?"

A gothic novella about love, torment and doomed aristocracy, set in the remote mountains of Spain.

Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Classics, with books from around the world and across many centuries. They
Paperback, Little Black Classics #19, 57 pages
Published February 26th 2015 by Penguin Classics (first published December 1885)
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Average rating 3.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,250 ratings  ·  164 reviews

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Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
I MEAN, IT WAS KINDA POINTLESS! It felt irrelevant to me. A very decadent piece, and if I was forced to I'm sure I could get enough fuel to write an essay about it, but the story, THE STORY I SAY, wasn't any fun. The instal-love was frustrating, and the characters acted in unrelatable ways.

Sorely disappointed, I am! I LOVED LOVED Jekyll & Hyde and The Bottle Imp so I'm not ready to give up on old Stevenson, but please no more like this!
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
I’ve been getting negligent in my reviews of these as of late. Only fourteen left to go! I’ve been reading through this lot for almost two years! I will get through all eighty eventually, just wait and see. I’ll post a spectacular update celebrating the occasion. There might even be cake involved.

Well, anyway, on to the book in hand; it’s not a very good one, numbered amongst the lowest in my estimation in the collection. It’s hard to believe that this was actually written by Robert Louis
"She seemed the link that bound me in with dead things on the one hand, and with our pure and pitying God on the other: a thing brutal and divine, and akin at once to the innocence and to the unbridled forces of the earth."
- Robert Louis Stevenson, Olalla


Vol 19 of my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set. Those Victorians sure loved their Gothic vampire stories. This one was published in 1885 (Dracula was published in 1897). It shares a couple similarities: castle in the mountains, love, blood,
A great gothic novella by Robert Louis Stevenson on a weekend!

Before starting, while I was going through the reviews on goodreads many people gave it only a single star complaining about a disappointing climax and weak hints of Vampirism. I was a bit wary thus. But for the first time, I have a complete different experience than the first three reviews I read of the book on goodreads and really liked it.

For a fellow escapist of the tropical heat as I am, the story takes you to picturesque
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oh I do love a Gothic horror story. :)
I treat myself to 4 of the Penguin little black classics and this novella was the first I picked to read.
It's a story that purportedly influenced Bram Stokers Dracula.
I like the quote on the first page which says 'is it me you love, friend or the race that made me?'
This was a wonderful novella, at once scary, romantic, threat and actual horror are all depicted here.
I thought his descriptions of the mountains, the sky, the black wind and the mournful,
Sam Quixote
Sep 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
A man is invited to a dilapidated castle in the Spanish mountains to recover from an illness or something. The family who own the house are aristocrats who’ve fallen on hard times. The son is a bit of a simpleton, the mother is quietly crazy (until she isn’t), and the daughter, Olalla, is eerily beautiful. Nothing happens, then the narrator falls for Olalla but they can’t be together and then it’s over.

Also, they’re… vampires?!

Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1887 short story is so damn subtle,
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I see that this seems to be getting quite a bit of hate, so I'm going to do my bit and try and explain why I actually thoroughly enjoyed Olalla.

This piece is said to have greatly influenced Bram Stoker's Dracula which was written over a decade later, so automatically I found it a very interesting read. It's the epitome of Gothic fiction at its conception; set in distant times and Catholic countries before its transition to the city and even the human psyche itself - because such horrors were
May 11, 2015 rated it liked it
This was an interesting little novella. The hints of vampirism are incredibly subtle (possibly a little too subtle?), and the writing is quite verbose at times, but overall the mood and tension that Stevenson evokes here is very well done. The film adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula came to mind while reading this.

Although I found the ending to be quite disappointing, not amounting to much, I enjoyed this little tale for what it was. I wouldn't re-read it though, and if you want a really good
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it
A quick and easy read (or listen, in my case), but pretty uneven in its effect. Stevenson knows how to pile on the gothic atmosphere – we've got the mysterious old house, the degenerate descendants of a once-noble line, a creepy portrait with hypnotic effects, mysterious screams in the night and of course the mysterious title character who is unseen for the first half of the story.

But the writing itself is overdone, especially as the narrator describes his immediate love for Olalla once he
I think I would have enjoyed this better if the narrator wasn't such a snob. He really, really is a snob. One of those British long nosed, look down on everyone types. Quite frankly, Poe does this type of thing much better.
Michelle Curie
Gothic Horror written by Robert Louis Stevenson? Count me in! I'm actually surprised it's got such low ratings on here, but what people interpreted as a failed attempt at gothic horror I only interpreted as a refreshing change to the genre.

The story is told by a Scottish soldier. After being wounded he takes up temporary residence with a local once-noble family. The members seem odd, and things don't really get better when the soldier falls desperately in love with the daughter, Olalla.

May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
It’s fascinating how Stevenson both plays with and embraces the gothic form. When our narrator receives the strange invitation to go and stay with the odd family in the residencia in the Spanish hills, the reader obviously knows that terrible things await. However Stevenson initially delays these expectations, giving us instead a lonely man wandering about, being somewhat intrigued but mostly irritated by those family members he meets. It’s only when ‘Olalla’ suddenly raises itself into a ...more
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is pretty much everything I want from a classic novella.
There is poetic, but still understandable and on point, language, you feel like you're in another time and place when reading it and there is some strange humor to it.
I also liked the mystery surrounding this place and the way the people were described by the protagonist, with a strange fascination for them, and by the doctor, who totally judges them.

I normally would criticize the love at first sight trope, but his attraction felt
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: half-of-lbc
I'm being very selective with what books to review, it seems like the favorites that I read this year are popular among readers here and everything about them has been said. This one looks like it didn't sit well with many.
And I really, really loved it! It's a great book to read in October.
So far, the little black classics have been so-so, some were really disappointing but RLS never disappoints.
My only problem was that the spoiler is on the cover, it says it's about (view spoiler)
Jose Moa
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Tis is a tale locate in Spain in undetermined time,i supose after spanish independence war.It tolds with beutiful prose the intense sad history of a english man thar recovers in a noble spanish house an falls in love with a girl daughter of the lords of the house;but it is a love rejected by the girl ,thoug in love with the man not wish perpetuate the decadency and madness of his own family ,in other times honest and brave
Olalla is sometimes seen as an early vampire story that pre-dates Bram Stoker's Dracula. (John Polidori wrote The Vampyre: A Tale in 1819 during the same summer trip when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein; RL Stevenson wrote Olalla in 1885; Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897.)

I enjoyed Stevenson's story but I'm not sure I would have thought of it as a vampire story unless I had been told that previously. Imo, the 'vampire' connection was pretty shaky. Instead, it's a gothic story that fits the spirit of
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
Olalla is a single short story, a gothic tale of tortured love and (because it's Victorian) vampirism! I loved it, a little time capsule of fears, superstition, and the Victorian taste for the wicked or sensational.

The writing style is completely over the top, but it was enjoyable to read. I can't imagine anyone expressing themselves in quite such a contrived manner, it was equal parts fascinating and amusing to read the declarations of love after a mere glimpse of the supposed love's face in a
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
" dearer hope than to forget you, and no greater fear than to be forgotten."

Short but powerful. 'Olalla' is a story about love and desire on the one site and reason and tradition on the other. I liked every page of it.
May 17, 2015 rated it liked it
This Victorian gothic novella is rather unnerving in an entertaining way. I was intrigued, yet uneasy from start to finish. I liked Stevenson's writing style; it is of its time but not too flowery. The characters were interesting. I could read a whole novel based on them. This is the first prose of Stevenson's that I have read, and I would definitely read more.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The description was fantastic. I really liked the first half, it was creepy and interesting. I liked the setup and introductions of the characters. However, the last half with the revelations and tension building and conclusion were very lack-lustre for me. I wish they had gone in a more surprising direction and done something actually frightening and disturbing. I kept thinking when reading the last ten pages that something big had to happen but nothing did. Still a fun read but a lot of ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tidy little novella on vampires and why falling in love with them is a bad idea.
Joey Woolfardis
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Robert Louis Stevenston was a 19th Century Scottish writer, most famous for Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Olalla is an early short story about a young English soldier recovering in the Spanish mountains from his war wounds.

"And if they knew you were the handsomest and the most pleasant man that ever came from England (where I am told that handsome men are common, but pleasant ones not so much so), they would doubtless make you welcome with a better grace."

It is a very well-written
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: r2015
Having enjoyed Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I had high expectations for this short story. Somehow I couldn't really connect with the main character and his reflective voice. Mind you that could be due to Stevenson overuse of the semicolon!

---- spoiler-ish ----

The idea of a long lived Spanish family falling not only in economic terms but in their souls was a good one. How they become 'brutes' and 'naive' at the same time while keeping their spellbinding beauty, last asset to catch
Sep 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Olalla" is an early vampire novella published in 1887, 15 years after Le Fanu's "Carmilla" and a decade before Dracula. While Stevenson rarely seemed to be the one to originate any particular horror theme, his mastery of tone, his comparatively straight-forward language, and his somewhat un-gothic distaste for plot tangents often hoist his stories head and shoulders above those of those of his contemporaries. Some fans of the vampire genre may find little innovation in "Olalla," but it is ...more
Caroline Åsgård
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
There were times were I really REALLY wanted Stevenson to just shut up and deliver a plot. Unfortunately, the story is so subtle, it's barely there.
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Olalla is a short story that is said to have helped inspire Dracula by Bram Stoker. There are very interesting Gothic elements to this story - with the dark and mysterious house, a decline in noble blood, strange occurrences at night and a beautiful young woman. But the story as a whole feels like a study in ambiguity. There's much left to the imagination in regards to what exactly is going on in the 'residencia', what the fate of the family is, and what happened in their past. Even the narrator ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Prema Arasu
Robert Louis Stevenson's subtle take on vampirism is interesting, and a welcome change from the romanticised sexy vampires of contemporary fiction. It's worth questioning whether this short story even features what can be considered vampirism; it's presented more like a depraved animalistic reaction that came from generations of inbreeding and ungodliness.

Otherwise, Olalla conforms to many tropes of the gothic genre (not in a bad way though - these tropes exist because they are useful) including
A short story reproduced in full in this Penguin Little Black Classic.

'A Gothic vampire story' is the short summary.

First published in 1885, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the writing style. It is a very busy, wordy style, but it invokes great descriptive atmosphere, and sets the scene well.

There is a fair bit of criticism of the story going nowhere, or the story not really having an ending, but I didn't find this to be the case. I considered that the story played out quite well, and that
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Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer, and a leading representative of English literature. He was greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling and Vladimir Nabokov.

Most modernist writers dismissed him, however, because he was popular and did not write within their narrow definition of literature. It is
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“Forgive me, if I seem to teach, who am as ignorant as the trees of the mountain, but those who learn much do but skim the face of knowledge; they seize the laws, they conceive the dignity of the design - the horror of the living fact fades from their memory. It is we who sit at home with evil who remember, I think, and are warned and pity.” 2 likes
“We are all such as He was - the inheritors of sin; we must all bear and expiate a past which was not ours; there is in all of us - ay, even in me - a sparkle of the divine. Like Him, we must endure for a little while, until morning returns bringing peace.” 1 likes
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