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Monday, April 30, 2007

The Mummy

****½ The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice. Horror.

I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I've had a love/hate relationship with Anne Rice's books. I loathed Interview with a Vampire, but people kept telling me to try more, and so I did, and each book I liked a little better. Mind you, I've only read the first half dozen or so of her vampire chronicles (and of course the Sleeping Beauty books), so the recent controversies don't come into the equation yet.

Surprisingly, The Mummy is more like a paranormal romance than a horror novel, and probably would have been shelved in the romance section if not for two things: 1) it was written in 1989, before paranormal romance became a hot genre, and 2) it's by Anne Rice, and she's known for horror, so that's where it goes.

Julie Stratford's father was an archaeologist. Shortly after he discovered the mummy of Ramses II (Ramses the Damned), he was murdered by his nephew Henry.

Back in London, Henry tries the same trick on Julie so he can gain control of the family fortune, but Ramses comes to life and stops him.

Ramses is immortal because of an elixir, but he can also lie dormant for a time. It just takes sunlight to awaken him.

Julie and Ramses fall in love, and there are quite a few light-hearted scenes with them trying to explain his sudden presence and to prevent word from leaking out about the mummy come to life. The romance is complicated by Ramses's betrayal by his first love, Cleopatra, and by Julie's assumed betrothal to Alex, whose father, coincidentally, is the one man who has figured out who Ramses is and is determined to get his hands on the elixir.

There's also quite a lot of serious reflection about immortality. Rice had obviously given the subject a lot of thought (unsurprising, since she'd written about angsty immortals before), and the descriptions of the elixir's effects were very dramatic and believable--what happens, for example, if you use the elixir on crops? The subject comes to a head when Ramses finds Cleopatra's mummy and despite his misgivings, uses the elixir to restore what ends up being a murderous fiend.

One of my favorite things about this book is the ending. ****spoiler**** Despite acknowledging the drawbacks of immortality, at the end of the book, we're not whacked over the head with the notion that "all right-thinking people really would prefer to die." ****

It's also a rather open-ended... er... ending. Whether that's to leave room for a sequel, or just to allow the reader's imagination to continue the story, I'm not sure. I suppose I'll look it up eventually.


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I don;t think I have read this one. I liked the Witch books the best. I will have to get The Mummy from the library!
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