The Passion of Cleopatra is the sequel to Anne Rice’s novel The Mummy, originally published in 1989. The sequel was just published in November, but I very much enjoyed it. In order to read it, I had to read the original novel, and I must say that, while both were enjoyable, I enjoyed the sequel far more. If you haven’t read The Mummy, you may want to avoid this review (I’m not going to try and be spoiler-y, but it’s kind of inevitable).
Picking up pretty much where the last novel left off, the premise of this novel is mostly about Ramses (yes, ancient Egyptian pharaoh) living his life with Julie, and also worrying about Cleopatra (yes, ancient Egyptian queen) popping up. While I don’t really think she’s the threat he does, I expected this aspect based on happenings near the end of the first novel. Also in play are other ancients, a queen older than Egypt and her traitorous prime minister, who have opposing desires regarding the elixir of life, and a young woman who mysteriously fits in. All of these stories intersect as the novel goes on, and come to a cohesive story, and also leave it open enough for additional books, which I would welcome.
The overall plot of the novel is pretty simplistic, but I really enjoyed that it jumped right into the action, whereas the original novel took a few hundred pages to get to more horror, action-y things. All of the set-up in that novel, however, pays off very well in this one. There’s very little to be bored at here, and alternating perspectives help the reader piece together some of the mystery long before the players do. I felt like the alternating perspectives were done better here than in the first novel as well, with much clearer delineation of whose POV we are reading when. All of the POV characters are interesting and I love that they each had distinctive voices. I do really wish we would’ve seen more of Elliott in this book, as I rather liked him in the first, but I’ll just have to hope for future installments.
I also loved the poignancy in the writing, which is something I’ve always admired about Rice. Immortality is hard to deal with, I would assume, and the Rices do a very good job illuminating some of the presumptive struggles and challenges such a life would bring. Some of the characters handle it with brutality, some with grace, and some with a little bit of both. I also appreciated the interactions between the characters, and the formation of what feels a little like a family.
I would recommend reading the original novel if you haven’t yet, because without it, this one does not make much sense. If you are an Anne Rice fan, I do recommend this one for its action and characters and lovely writing, and let’s all keep our fingers crossed that the next installment will come in fewer than 28 years.
Note: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley & the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars