Revenge takes time; fortunately Edmond Dantes doesn’t sleep. Or breathe.
In a world of monsters and magic, Edmond Dantes has a pretty good life. He’s just been made captain of a ship, and he’s about to marry his sweetheart.
But when jealousy, spite, and ambition conspire to frame him for treason, he loses everything. To make things right, he’ll need to give up the only thing he has left: his humanity.
They thought their troubles died with Edmond. They were wrong on both counts.
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Review: The Mummy of Monte Cristo by J Trevor Robionson
Here at the Periapsis Press blog, we only post reviews of works we recommend, so you already know I enjoyed The Mummy of Monte Cristo. I encourage you to check it out!
Disclaimer: We received a copy of this book from the author for the purpose of review. This in no way influences our opinions. (You can request a review here.)
This review contains spoilers.
The Mummy of Monte Cristo is a hair-raising adaptation of Alexandre Duma’s classic revenge story in the style of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, packed with loads of undead and horror delicacies to relish!
The Count of Monte Cristo
The original adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas is ripe for this kind of adaptation. The original story was actually released in parts from 1844 to 1846, which lends the novel an episodic nature of consistent action and tension scaling.
The elements of historic context, particularly the unrest and uncertainty for the average citizen around the Bourbon Restoration and the Hundred Days period when Napoleon returned to power, seep the tale in a beclouded world in which horrible tragedy and gripping vengeance can take place.
Finally, the characters, complex with secrets and inter-relational conflict, make monstrous additions more tenable than, say a public figure such as Abraham Lincoln (Vampire Hunter).
So, then, with such a great starting point, does Robinson pull it off? Yes!
The Mummy of Monte Cristo is packed with tons of undead flavor, from the tweaking of historical events to include a near zombie apocalypse to Edmond Dantès’ mummy transformation. I loved the classic mummy monster mechanics such as the use of his wrappings as weapons!
But Robinson didn’t stop there. Nearly every character brings more horror to the table: vampires, cannibals, a life-sucking amulet, dark rituals, death-curses, and so much more. The result is a setting that feels more like an alternate history, a place where everything is a little bit different, rather than a dark corner of our own world where monsters could exist.
And it is all seamlessly integrated into the original tale! A common critique of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is that the tone is inconsistent; the romance and the zombie action don’t mesh very well. But Robinson pulls it off beautifully in The Mummy of Monte Cristo.
The melodramatic nature of the original lends itself to the adaptation, of course, but the alterations to exposition, dialogue, and action are all so smooth that I could not at first blush identify the point of integration. The presence of monsters or other supernatural elements are a give-away for changes, but Robinson tailored his voice to Dumas’ so that there are no jarring juxtapositions, and I was often in the middle of a scene before I thought, “Well, this wasn’t in the original!”
This adaptation is also appropriate for The Count of Monte Cristo thematically. Dantès alienates himself from his humanity while he enacts his revenge, cutting himself off from both society (external) and emotions (internal) and devoting himself to a self-assigned role as an agent of Providence. Thus, “humanity” is an important theme in the original, incorporating ideas of justice, forgiveness, mercy, and hope.
In The Mummy of Monte Cristo, Dantès abandons his humanity literally in order to purse his revenge. However, the thematic thread takes a vastly different path in this adaptation than the original. Whereas the original Dantès regains his humanity through forgiveness, Robinson’s Dantès cannot become human again. He does not forgive Danglars; in fact, Danglars earns the most graphic death in the adaptation.
Neither is the idea of a limit to human vengeance present – an important idea in the original. The quote, “Tell the angel who will watch over your life to pray now and then for a man who, like Satan, believed himself for an instant to be equal to God, but who realized in all humility that supreme power and wisdom are in the hands of God alone,” is not present in any form.
Rather, Dantès is given a new vocation to continue to pursue and defeat “petty and harmful men” and to “make sure there is no possible way for the world to be troubled by the undead again.”
This difference is an important one, but it should not be taken as a commentary on or contradiction of the original theme of vengeance and forgiveness, but rather a completely separate message to a very different audience.
In The Mummy of Monte Cristo, vengeance is part of Dantès’ origin story. Like many superheroes, he awakens to the evil present in the world by first becoming a victim to it and rising to enact vengeance against it. Once that is accomplished, his abilities and awareness make him responsible for pursuing justice beyond revenge.
He himself still needs forgiveness and love, but he does not extend it to evil, nor attempt to rejoin humanity in general. This is a typical motif in modern storytelling (The Myth of the American Superhero) wherein the hero remains apart from society rather that rejoining it (The Hero with a Thousand Faces).
Personally, I found Danglars’ new end thick with Schadenfreude and the idea of additional adventures to come enticing, although it did come at the cost of a moral ideal and stronger theological argument.
Check It Out!
The Mummy of Monte Cristo is a seamless adaptation of a great adventure story into a darker, undead version sure to satisfy your thirst for all things classic horror and bad guys getting what they deserve. If you enjoy Dumas’ original story or the undead genre, this is a must read!