The Long Night of the Grave

June 13, 2015 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

The Long Night of the GraveThe Long Night of the Grave by Charles L. Grant


Of all the classic movie monsters, I’m least familiar with the mythology of the mummy, but as I think about it now, it seems to be reflective of the golem in Jewish folklore.  Each is raised into being by magic, unstoppable, on a singular mission, and nearly indestructible, and once they’re let loose, they usually wind up doing as much harm to their creators as to whoever they’ve been set upon.  Either way, though, these kinds of stories are usually told so that the reader wonders what could be causing the kind of mayhem witnessed in the story, with the clues leading us down the road toward the mummy.  With The Long Night of the Grave, we already know this is going to be a mummy story, so a lot of that tension is lost on us.

Still, the story succeeds despite that, thanks again to Grant’s characterization skills, and how deftly he builds the atmosphere of his story.  I’m not sure I ever felt outright dread while reading, but there was definitely a general feel to the novel that supported the subject matter.  Plus, I realized with this book that Grant’s characters are astute, saying to us what we already knew but hadn’t realized we knew.

Combining the quaint old-town sensibilities of Oxrun Station with Egyptian lore seems odd.  They don’t go well together, and while I understand why Grant concluded the trilogy here — the classic Universal movie monsters were Dracula, the werewolf, Franeknstein’s monster, and the mummy (and the Frankenstein monster would have been even more out of place) — the story feels forced into the setting.  Grant drops historical hints to give us a sense of the timeframe of the story, which is later than 1895, thanks to a mention of Trilby, but not later than 1897, as Grover Cleveland is still in office.  This puts it far ahead of the ancient Egypt craze that took place in the 1920s, which I thought maybe could account for the oddity of the story in this particular setting, but it doesn’t work out that way.

The chronology of this story follows The Soft Whisper of the Dead, though it only references characters from that book in passing.  It seems unusual that Grant chose to shift the chronology around, but it seems to work well enough.  I didn’t like this one as much as I did the other two books in the trilogy, but that might be due to knowing less about mummies than the other horror archetypes.  Regardless, anyone who read the first two should finish the series out with this one, too.

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