return from the dead
this was one of my choices for the rip challenge and i had a really fun time reading it!
as i’ve written in an earlier post, it’s a collection of mummy stories. here is the line-up:
- bram stoker – the jewel of seven stars (a novella)
- jane webb – the mummy
- edgar allen poe – some words with a mummy
- arthur conan doyle – the ring of thoth
- arhur conan doyle – lot 249
i started with the stoker and flipped back and forth as i also worked my way through the short stories. jane webb’s the mummy is great fun! written in the early 1800s (and influenced by frankenstein) it’s a futuristic story of a company of explorers that unearh a mummy (surprise surprise).
what was really cool about this was how cool webb’s vision of the future is – her image of egypt really struck me. its rather reminiscent of enki bilal’s paris in the nikopol trilogy, egypt is cluttered and overcrowded and has a haze of smog, like a modern urban city.
the story is short and sweet and very exciting.
some words with a mummy is quite silly and funny and for me had just the right tone of melodramatic gothic drama. the conversation in question is a debate about victorian versus egyptian culture and in it poe pokes fun at all comers, especially the self righteousness and superiority of the victiorians.
the ring of thoth is for some reason probably my favourite of the lot. it was very evocative and i really felt the atmosphere of the story. its about a guy who falls asleep in the louvre
and then wakes up when everyone has gone and discovers the secret behind an ancient ring which has power over the dead.
the second doyle story, lot 249, is also pretty good. its considered the predescessor to the modern convention of employing a mummy to act as an agent of vengeance. this was a cool story and quite creepy, although it was oddly tame in crucial places – so don’t expect to be scared. still, like with the ring of thoth, it is very evocative and a good read.
the main event, the jewel of seven stars, was also very good.
to recap the premise, a man gets awoken in the middle of the night to go to the aid of a friend, and finds a certain mr. trelawney in a comatose-like state, having collapsed with his arm stretched out to his safe, and with a large gash in his wrist!
initially the story reads like a conan doyle tale but the tone shifts and becomes a lot more gothic and supernatural. this is also quite a bit different from dracula. apart from the obvious difference in subject matter jewel is more subtly ominous and, crucially, more cynical about man’s ability to deal with supernatural forces.
overall i really enjoyed this collection. the quality of each of the stories is high and once you’ve read it you feel like you’ve got a really good insight into the mummy genre. if you’re a gothic horror fan i’d highly recommend it!