Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra (The Mummy #2) by Anne Rice and Christopher Rice

It’s been almost 30 years (YIKES) since I first read The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice. All that time, the story has cried out for a continuation…and here, at long last, it is! Also, I believe this is the first fiction collaboration by Anne Rice and her son, Christopher Rice, an established novelist in his own right. (I could be wrong about that though.)

SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for The Mummy, so if you haven’t read it, proceed at your own risk!

The Passion of Cleopatra front cover (Anchor/Random House)

THE PLOT: In 1914, immortal Ramses, former Pharaoh of Egypt, believes the monstrous version of Cleopatra he resurrected to have died in a fiery crash. He has made his beloved Julie, a modern Edwardian woman, immortal, and they’re traveling together around Europe until Julie and Ramses go home to England for their engagement party, being thrown by Julie’s friend Alex. Alex is struggling to get over Cleopatra, whom he truly loved and also believes dead.

Meanwhile, Cleopatra is really on the run with the doctor who treated her after the crash (not that she needed treatment…the Elixir healed her). But Cleopatra still isn’t whole, and now she’s sharing visions of her past with an American author named Sibyl.

The true creator of the Elixir, an ancient immortal queen named Bektaten, is searching for her former prime minister who betrayed her by trying to create his own army of immortals. Now both are on a collision course with Ramses, made famous as “Reginald Ramsey,” and his friends.

MY TWO CENTS: Overall, I enjoyed this book. It had a good narrative flow, unlike some of Anne Rice’s weirder mid-late vampire books which had that strange flow-of-consciousness quality to them. There was a defined story here. I’m not familiar enough with Christopher Rice’s work to really identify how much is his influence (I’ve read and reviewed one of his books here, and remember quite liking it). I felt that the collaboration clearly worked, except for one thing…it was too short at 400 pages and not quite enough story for me.

My biggest problem with that story comes from not enough focus on Ramses and Julie. I certainly don’t mind the continuation and enrichment of Cleopatra’s story, or the introduction of new characters that move it along, such as Sibyl. In fact, the Bektaten/Saqnos story has a certain Queen of the Damned origin story quality to it, and I enjoyed that greatly. That may have been my favorite part. But Ramses and Julie don’t get to do a whole lot other than play a spectator role, or (sometimes inadvertently) get people in the right place at the right time.

So in many ways, I felt like this was clearly the second installment in what is now intended to be a series, with Ramses getting a larger part to play with Bektaten in future volumes. I could be wrong, but that’s definitely the feel I took away.

And I enjoyed this enough to be interested in any future installments. Do I suggest reading it without reading the original The Mummy first? Nope, absolutely not. Does it stand on its own? Not exactly, because it just seems so much like a middle story to me. Read The Mummy, and if you love it (or have loved it for 30 years), pick this one up.

BOTTOM LINE: A long-awaited sequel that read like the second book in a trilogy…but I’m definitely in for the next volume.

TEACUP RATING: Three-and-a-half out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available November 21, 2017, in trade paperback and eformats.

NEXT UP FROM AUTHORS:  I’m not sure if Anne Rice’s 2018 book has been announced yet, but Christopher Rice has book one in a new series, Bone Music, releasing on March 1, 2018. This one sound pretty interesting to me; I’ll put it on my Goodreads list.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Random House’s First to Read program and Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

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The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice

Heavens

The Heavens Rise Front Cover (Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster)

I had never read a Christopher Rice book before, but the description intrigued me. After reading this book, I’ll be likely to read more of his work.

THE PLOT: The story primarily follows two main characters: Marshall Ferriot, who is a violent maniac even before he obtains supernatural powers, and Ben Broyard, the gay best friend of Niquette (Nikki) Delongpre. Teenage Nikki and her parents go missing one night after Marshall sticks a snake in their car as revenge for Nikki’s rejection of him. Marshall had arranged for Nikki to believe her boyfriend, Anthem, was cheating on her, so he could move in. Nikki befriended Marshall, but turned him away when he made his move. But it was too late; they had both picked up an ancient parasite in the pool Nikki’s parents were having dug. The rest of the book is mostly a supernatural mystery: what really happened to Nikki and her parents eight years ago? How did Marshall really wind up in a coma, and how do people die violently near him? Ben, now a reporter and helped by recovering alcoholic Anthem, works to piece together the truth.

MY TWO CENTS: This book contained elements of two of my favorite horror books: Stephen King’s IT and Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. (My sincerest apologies to Mr. Rice on pulling his mother into the conversation, but I can’t help the comparison when this book is set in New Orleans with a rich, unresponsive, wheelchair-bound main character who also has supernatural powers.) However, it’s not nearly as terrifying as either of those two books, which gave me nightmares in young adulthood!

BOTTOM LINE: This is a good book for Halloween week. It’s not overly scary, and the reader is carried along easily through the story. And really, isn’t New Orleans a great setting for a horror story? (Yes, I’ve been watching American Horror Story–Coven. ‘Tis the season.) I really liked the character of Ben as our hero, and Marshall was a totally deplorable villain.

TEACUP RATING: I give this book four teacups…I think I wanted a little more from the ending. However, I found it a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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