Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jewel of the Seven Stars

The Jewel of the Seven Stars is a short novel by Bram Stoker about the mummy of an Egyptian queen and the plan to revive her with the help of the jewel. It's also a lesson why you should never mess with what an author plans for his or her story.

I downloaded the novel from gutenberg.org and read it all the way through in one day. It's thrilling and you absolutely know almost right from the start that things are going to end badly. The foreshadowing is sometimes a bit heavy-handed, but it's fun to piece it all together.

Finally, the archaeologist, his daughter and the narrator are ready to perform the ritual to revive the queen. And then the story just fizzes out. Nothing happens at the ritual, the mummy is gone and the narrator marries the archaeologist's daughter. I was left with a feeling that I had accidentially slipped into some novel by Nicholas Sparks. Bram Stoker never was one to shy away from the gruesome stuff, so what was this?

Wikipedia enlightened me. Readers reacted not well to the original ending and when Stoker wanted to republish the story, he was told to change the ending. He did and I'm sorry to say that he did a terrible job. Fortunately, the original version has been made available again. The end makes good on all the promises the story makes. It's wonderfully dark and horrifying, just like it should be.

It's a brilliant example of Gothic horror. If you want to read it, by all means get your hands on the original version. Read the altered ending just to see how jarring the break in the story is.

There's a great short story in Kim Newman's Mysteries of the Diogenes Club that involves the Jewel, by the way. It's worth reading even if you have not read the Anno Dracula series. But you should.

Reviews 2012

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