The Mummy (Anne Rice)

The_Mummy_coverRice started writing paranormal romance before it was in style. The Mummy has the perfect mix of tragedy, romance, history and emotion that she pulls off so well, without any extra flab added to the story. Compared to her other novels, The Mummy is incredibly short, with my version only being 398 pages. They fly by at the speed of sound. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I’ve always loved ancient Egypt and have been fascinated by Ramses the Great.

I’m not necessarily an admirer of him, but he does play a significant role in history and did have an interesting life. Well, Anne Rice brings him to life in The Mummy and he is as charming, well-spoken and lecherous as one would expect. But he also has a soft side, which is what makes it so easy for Julie and readers to fall in love with him. Julie herself has a few too many modern sensibilities for the era, but she is an interesting character because she is so strong. She’s the perfect match for Ramses. Anne Rice showcases exactly what it is that makes people want to devote their entire lives to the study of Egyptology.

If you haven’t fallen in love with Egypt by the time you finish The Mummy, you likely never will. I didn’t even catch any glaring historical inaccuracies. Sure, some things were changed around if you believe in the traditional Cleopatra story, but Anne Rice presents a compelling alternative that makes sense in the context of the story. Her vivid descriptions reveal the passion she has for ancient Egypt and that enthusiasm continues throughout the entire novel. It’s fresh, a fitting retelling of the very old, generally cliché shambling mummy coming back from the grave story. Of course it has fantastical elements, but I don’t think they’ll be overwhelming for people who don’t normally read fantasy.

Anne Rice achieves perfect balance in The Mummy, and it’s a book I would highly recommend to anyone. But it is a touch irritating that Rice glosses over the colonialism and cultural invasion that is pretty inherent in the ‘exploration’ of Egypt, and ‘discovery’ of Pharaoh’s tombs during this time. She seems to just decide that’s a blind spot she can live with, and not even nod to. It would have added depth and more interest. Especially with Ramses awakening into an entirely new world – his feelings about Egypt’s changes are pretty superficial, and since he’s supposed to be this highly intelligent, philosophical, immortal man. It seems strange he’d just basically have an emo spell after seeing “modern” Egypt.

One downside is the one dimensional, flat characters that surround Ramses, like Elliot, Lord Rutherford. Also, the lack of detail about the surroundings the characters were in really bothered me; I had a hard time filling in the blanks and was frequently guessing. I have recently read other novels in which I could very literally see what was happening because of the high quality, interesting descriptions. I found this novel very lacking in this regard. The main thing I liked about the novel was that it became very philosophical about what immortality might mean and whether it was something to be idealized or avoided at all costs. No cut and dried answer is offered here: you are allowed to reach your own conclusions.

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