Mummy

The Mummy - Anne Rice A friend of mine recommended this book to me, telling me that of all of the many Anne Rice books she had read, this one was her favorite, even over the vampire books. Besides this book, the only other book by Rice I've read is Interview with the Vampire, and I think in a lot of ways that is the more impressive book. Interview with the Vampire had its uneven and downright creepy aspects. But it also had a take on vampires that feels original to me even decades after it was published and having read dozens of vampire books. I don't feel The Mummy quite matches that originality, and yet it is a solid story, arguably more tautly written than Interview and with a much more conventional romance. Not that the novel doesn't have a way of making a hoary movie cliche feel fresh, at making us feel and think through what might be the price of immortality--that it indeed might be more a curse, even a form of damnation for the Earth. In a way this is a story within a story--with layers of history involved. Set in 1914, on the cusp of the modern age, it deals with the pharaoh Ramses the Great, born a thousand years before the infamous Cleopatra, who nevertheless claims to have been her mentor and lover--to be an immortal. He awakes from his wrappings when British Egyptologist Lawrence Stratford finds where he's been entombed and exposes him once again to sunlight. Ramses becomes "Ramsey" and falls in love with the archeologist's brilliant daughter Julie. So this novel is a blend of horror, dark fantasy, romance and historical fiction--and an absorbing one. The figure of Ramses himself is quite a character--charismatic and complex. This was a gripping yarn from beginning to end. I don't know that I'd exactly call it a favorite, but I am keeping it on my bookshelf despite my limited space, and would recommend it to lovers of stories of Ancient Egypt and gothic romance. It's entertaining and atmospheric. The ending cries sequel and strikes an ominous note, but doesn't feel abrupt or unfinished to me. After all, it's a staple of horror films and books that right in the last scene or paragraph, after you think evil is defeated, there's a sign it has survived or can rise again.