by J. Trevor Robinson
The Mummy of Monte Cristo is a retelling of the literary classic written by Alexandre Dumas. Edmond Dantes, a young sailor is made Captain and about to get married to his sweetheart, Mercedes, when the jealousy and resentment of three colleagues drive them to frame him for treason. Due also to the corrupt actions of the wickedly craven Gerard de Villefort, Edmond is imprisoned without trial for fourteen years in the notorious Chateau d’If. However, the long years of captivity serve as both an education and an enlightenment to Edmond on how to exact his revenge…
J. Trevor Robinson’s re-imagining follows the original plot fairly closely but deviates by the addition of the supernatural as the title would imply. We are treated to a 19th century world full of mythical beasts, occult powers and monstrous beings. It is an epic retelling of a legendary novel. The amount of detail, imagination and consideration that has gone into re-creating the writing of Dumas and the world of Monte Cristo interwoven with fantastical creatures is an undertaking of consummate skill and craft. The beginning of the novel is assertive and capable, nicely setting up the intrigues and conflicts in the same style and tempo as Dumas but with flickers and hints of difference and any necessary backstory is subtly weaved into the dialogue. Personally, I could have done with a few more of the mythical monsters, they do increase as the novel progresses but I thought they were slightly under-utilised at the beginning.
This is a lengthy read and is very fast paced in parts, more so than the original. I thought retaining the short Chapter structure was a good idea; the reader is able to consolidate and pause because there is an awful lot going on at times and a large number of characters. The prose is very Dumasesque, especially the Chapters in the Chateau d’If but J. Trevor Robinson carefully tweaks for the reader of today; it is certainly not as descriptively dense as the original and strikes a nice balance. Having said that, this is not a light read, you need to commit time. It does not work well as a novel to dip in and out of a few pages and some readers may still find the writing style a little impenetrable in places; it certainly retains the authenticity of the original.
The Mummy is an intrinsically likeable figure and imbued with J. Trevor Robinson’s supernatural powers, becomes a really charismatic and hypnotic character. I also found the re-imagining of Gerard de Villefort to be particularly gruesome and macabre. The inclusion of the dead plague narrative was also quite uncanny given current world events. I inwardly smiled at the new character of Dufresne; a clear nod to the Author’s love of Stephen King.
To have replicated and evolved such an esteemed classic as Monte Cristo takes immense patience, skill and confidence. It could have been a travesty. It was, instead, an intelligent, absorbing, sympathetic and captivating read which pitched the supernatural narrative perfectly and I feel all the sadder for having finished it. Highly recommended. Buy from: