So I mentioned in my last post that I enjoyed the writings of Anne Rice, so I thought I’d review one of my favorites of hers. And as I sit here typing, I realize that its been quite a long time since I’ve actually read an Anne Rice book. Shame on me. 🙂 At any rate, one of my personal favorites of hers is The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned. I confess myself to being a total geek of any and all things Ancient Egyptian. I even have an eye of Horus tattoo.
This book takes place in Victorian era London and Cairo, at the height of the mummy craze that caused so much of Egypt’s cultural treasures to go walkabout and not return. Heiress Julie Stratford’s father Lawrence has so much money that he can run off to Egypt on archaeological digs for funsies (I wish I had that problem). For some reason I fail to grasp, he brings his money-grubbing nephew Henry along for the ride. This proves fatal as Henry murders Lawrence inside a freshly opened tomb in Egypt (I don’t wish I had that problem). Its a foolish ploy to try and get himself some more inheritance.
Unbeknownst to Henry, someone witnessed the murder, the mummy of Ramses II. Millenia ago, Ramses ingested something called the Elixir of Life. It was the closely guarded secret of a Nubian priestess, who warned Ramses of the consequences of using the elixir. He ignored her (as people do when it comes to immortality, at least in books) and drank the elixir. It gave him everlasting life and youth, the sun giving him the ability to heal any found (kinda Superman-y, but okay). It increased his appetite (food wise and sex wise, though he was unable to sire any more children. That’s okay, he’d had quite a few by then anyway).
Unfortunately, he out lived his wife, his lovers, his children and grandchildren. He wandered, learning new languages and cultures, but still was unable to rest. He is unable to sleep, which I think would be the worst part of the whole thing because I love to sleep. Eventually, after losing Cleopatra (whom he loved very much), he tried to bring about an end to his eternity. The closest thing he could come to was basically hibernation. Since the sun gave him life, he took himself out of the sun. He had himself mummified alive, locked in a sarcophagus and then buried.
When Henry killed Lawrence in the burial chamber, there’s just enough light for Ramses to waken somewhat but not enough for him to do anything about it. Not long after, Ramses is taken back to London, to the home of Julie Stratford where he would be displayed and unwrapped at a party. Yes, this was absolutely a thing. Thanks Britain!
Julie opens the sarcophagus to see what her father gave his life for. Still in mourning, she doesn’t notice anything unusual about the mummy or her cousin Henry’s odd behavior. When Henry tries to poison her, Ramses, still lethargic from his millenia long hibernation, goes after him. After that, shenanigans about culminating in a trip back to Egypt with the now fully living Ramses and the heiress Julie Stratford, as well as the requisite escorts as Julie is an unmarried young woman and Ramses is an uber-hot sex machine (almost literally in this book).
I wouldn’t call this steampunk as it doesn’t have the love of bronze and gadgetry that typifies steampunk novels. I think I’d probably call this more of a Victorian horror novel. Anne Rice is amongst my favorite authors because she can describe something so well that you can almost feel yourself immersed in it. This book was great for an Egyptophile like me (don’t know if that’s word, but it is now if not). I’m honestly not a fan of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (blasphemous I know) but if you liked that book and/or Bram Stoker’s Dracula, you couldn’t go wrong with giving this a shot. Rating: A+