I love a good mummy story. Sadly, I’ve not read many because I really don’t know of many.
I once had a book of mummy stories that was so terrible (not well written at all) I couldn’t get through the first one. Someone suggested Bram Stoker’s The Jewell of the Seven Stars, but after my struggle to get through Dracula (it’s just so flipping boring), there’s not much chance of me reading that one.
It seems most of the good, even great, mummy stories are movies. I’m speaking of Karloff’s The Mummy, Bubba Ho-Tep, and some of the Hammer mummy movies. I will not speak of the Brendan Fraser movies, I’ll save that rant for another time (in short: I hate them).
The one good mummy story, in print, I am aware of is The Long Night of the Grave by Charles L. Grant. I came to the table late on Mr. Grant. Admittedly, I had never heard of him until I found this perfectly worn paperback copy in a used book store a few years ago. Look at that cover, what’s not to love? But, as the old saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover. Luckily, this book is pretty darn good.
Unless you read some reviews of it. The Long Night of the Grave tends to get some hate. Maybe not a lot of hate, but a good deal of dislike nonetheless. The most popular opinion is that Grant sleepwalks through this story and that it’s not up to his usual standards, or readers’ expectations. This is the third book of the author’s Universe of Horror Trilogy and it’s considered the weakest of the lot. The previous books centered on a vampire and then a werewolf and were Grant’s ode to movie monsters of yore.
I like the book. It’s late 19th Century setting oozes atmosphere, full of fog and rain. True, there’s no real mystery for the reader as far as the murders go (I mean, there’s a mummy on the cover for crying out loud), but it’s still a cozy read and it’s time well spent. I haven’t read the other two books in the trilogy, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, they may be better.
One thing I appreciate this book for is introducing me to Charles L. Grant. The Long Night of the Grave made we want to search out more of his work, and, having read some of his other novels, I think this one holds up fairly well.
If you want a nice story under two hundred pages, and especially if you want a Gothic tale involving a mummy, while you sip tea and dream of autumn and Halloween, this is the book for you. If you’ve never read Charles L. Grant, start here.