Friday, 3 April 2009

Book Review - 'The Jewel of Seven Stars' by Bram Stoker


When a writer’s name becomes synonymous with one truly classic piece of literature, it’s easy to forget that there will of course, have been many more strings to their bow. ‘The Jewel of Seven Stars’ is one such example in the portfolio of famous Irish writer Bram Stoker, creator of cultural icon, ‘Dracula’. ‘The Jewel of Seven Stars’ is set in the opulent high society of Edwardian London at the home of Professor Trelawney, famed archaeologist and Egyptologist.

Published in 1903, much of British society was at the time infatuated with Egypt and the East, providing this novel with its key cultural references and societal backdrop.
Agents unknown attack Professor Trelawney within his home and TJOSS starts off innocently as your classic turn of the century ‘whodunit’. Beautifully and evocatively described, the book sees worried daughter Margaret call for the assistance of her willing admirer, dashing lawyer Malcolm Ross (the development of their ensuing romance is a key and enjoyable theme throughout the text), seeking help as her father lays in a trance.

As the book progresses, it shifts from classic crime to supernatural thriller. Upon his awakening, Professor Trelawney brings the characters into his confidence and confirms their fears – the attacks are occurring due to the displaced Mummy Queen Tera, stored as a trophy in Trelawney’s study, awakening in preparation for her re-birth.
The novel ultimately shifts to Cornwall as the protagonists aim to complete the awakening and I shall desist from discussing any more of the plot for fear of spoiling the ending, which in my opinion, is the only let down in an incredibly enjoyable book.

Whilst Dracula is the superior text of the two, TJOSS is much easier to get into from the off and a thoroughly enjoyable Edwardian romp. The novel stands on its own feet in terms of story and plot, however the book also offers an incredibly detailed look at Edwardian society and the advancement of archaeology and subsequent interest in Egypt and the East, which make it worth the read in itself.
I really do count this as one of my favourite books and consider it a travesty that so few know of it.

Dracula may indeed be the seminal work that Stoker is rightfully associated with, but TJOSS is right up there with it and deserves the attention of discerning readers worldwide. Thoroughly recommended.

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