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The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903)

by Bram Stoker

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It seems a little strange to me that Jewel of the Seven Stars is so much less well-known than Dracula. I mean, yes, it's managed to stay in print, and it's even been adapted into a couple of low-budget horror movies, but the book certainly isn't a household name (and neither are any of Stoker's other books, for that matter.)
However, it's every bit as entertaining and dramatic a read.
The narrator is summoned by a young woman in distress, a recent acquaintance of his whom he is quite taken with. His delight in her seeming interest is only slightly tempered by the situation - the woman, Margaret's, father has fallen mysteriously ill... or has possibly been violently attacked. Doctors and the law are summoned, but, starting with some strange instructions left to his lawyer, an occult web unravels, relating to the father's occupation as an Egyptologist. A tale emerges of the mummy of Tera, a beautiful queen and powerful sorceress of ancient Egypt, who sought to extend her power beyond the grave - but whether for good or for evil is unknown. But now, it may be that there will be no choice but to discover, for her spirit seems in some strange way entwined with that of the innocent Margaret, who was born at the very moment of the violation of Tera's tomb.
Apparently, when the book was first published in 1903, the publisher was unhappy with the ending, and in subsequent editions, a new "happier" ending was tagged on. My copy of the book contained the original ending, but I have to say, I wasn't that satisfied with it either - not because of it being "unhappy," but because it was too vague, leaving unanswered too many questions that the book set up as if answers were forthcoming. Still, overall, I found it to be very enjoyable. ( )
1 vote AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
My sister recommended me into reading this story for up until now I didn't know that it existed as I am not a big Classics author reader. Anyway just like the Oz series, which I had finished up in March I started off on this book without any idea what it was going to be like or how it was going to end up.

The book was very slow and somewhat like Dracula, in my opinion, had spots where it dragged. Being read on a Kindle I noticed that you had to be about 50% of the way into the book until you actually started to get any concrete idea of what was going on or even a clue as to possibly how the story was going to end.

This is definitely a Stoker novel for it reads and has the same feel as "Dracula". The whole time involving the catalepsy events and the sickness of Mr. Trelawny reminded me so heavily of the scenes involving the unknown diagnosis of Lucy Westernra and the attempt to heal her that sometimes I had to catch myself with what I was reading.

Unlike "Dracula", "The Jewel of Seven Stars" was a bit more suspenseful and more mysterious. The dismembered hand kept reminding me of the werewolf tale where a werewolf preys upon a town until a drunken guy ends up cutting off the paw of the beast. He sets the paw in the bag and goes home to find his wife dead with a stump for her arm while upon reaching into the bag he pulls out her hand. I can promise you though the story doesn't follow that course.

I would like to thank my fellow reader Cornelia for her review on April 16, 2013, which included links to the original ending. When I read the ending on this particular variation it seemed too fake and phony to me while it wasn't a satisfactory ending for a Bram Stoker novel. The original ending is also not satisfactory as to its conclusion but is way more in tune with the way this particular story should end while giving it more of a Poe-ish cast to the reading.

http://bramstoker.org/txt/novels/08stars03.txt - Original Ending ( )
1 vote flamingrosedrakon | Aug 31, 2015 |
Great book, but a very odd and abrupt ending. ( )
1 vote DanielAlgara | Sep 26, 2014 |
This book, by the author of Dracula, of course, seems to combine horror with elements of mystery or whodunnit and of Rider Haggard-style fantasy. I’d say that the horror aspect is quite muted and that it is the mystery and fantasy elements that are more to the fore. Because of that mystery element, I really can’t give an outline of the plot without spoiling things for new readers. I’ll just say that our narrator gets called in to help when a wealthy collector of ancient Egyptian antiquities falls into some sort of coma or trance after a mysterious assault, and the story proceeds from there.

This is not an epistolary novel like Dracula but is told in the first person by one of the protagonists, Malcolm Ross. It’s a shorter book, too, and those who find Dracula rather heavy going might find this a more entertaining read.

I suppose I must fault it on a couple of small issues:

There are several places where Stoker really slows things down when the narrator or another protagonist discusses the religious implications or the anticipated outcomes of what they are doing – their ‘Great Experiment’. I think Stoker could have improved the book by putting some work into distilling these down a bit. These passages are not that difficult to get through, however, and there are not too many of them.

Also, it was only on thinking over the book some time after finishing it that I realised there were one or two, quite big, loose ends unanswered; but Stoker is such a good tale-spinner, carrying you along with him so well, that you just don’t notice when you’re actually reading (or, at least, I didn’t).

To sum up, I found it a quite delightful read. I think it comes firmly under the category of ‘a good yarn’ – good entertainment rather than ‘great literature’, perhaps, but very involving. When Stoker is on form, which is most of it, it’s a real page-turner.

I should mention that the book has two endings: the original one, published in 1903, and a revised one for an edition of 1912, which, apparently, was the only one available up until recent years. I’d advise prospective readers to get hold of an edition with the original ending for their first reading, In my opinion, the original ending is a good, strong, if rather dark one - and it fits, while the revised ending is little more than an act of vandalism and really deflates the force of the story – it just doesn’t really fit (I believe there is some suggestion that it wasn't actually Stoker who wrote it). You can quickly tell the difference thus: the original version has twenty chapters, including Chapter XVI, 'Powers - Old and New'; the revised edition has only nineteen, with that one missing. ( )
4 vote alaudacorax | Aug 30, 2012 |
Probably the best thing about this book (to me) is the super-kitschy Edwardian take on Egypt and Egyptology. Otherwise, though, the characters are mostly drippy, and the Big Bad only appears on the very last page, which is a bit disappointing. Dracula it ain't. ( )
2 vote amydross | May 3, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141442212, Paperback)

A mysterious attack on Margaret Trelawney's father brings young lawyer Malcolm Ross into the Egyptologist's bizarre home, and the couple soon find they are battling ancient forces greater than they previously could have imagined. The Egyptian queen Tera has been awoken, and is coming to take what she believes to be hers - whatever the cost to the Trelawney family. Set in London and Cornwall, and written at a time when a fascination with the East pervaded Victorian England, "The Jewel of Seven Stars" reflected the perceived contrast between the Orient's savagery and moral degradation, and its exotic beauty and opulence.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:37 -0400)

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Commonly believed to be Bram Stoker's most successful novel after 'Dracula', this story takes up the themes of immortality through supernatural and horrific means, and examines afresh the then current vogue of Egyptology.

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