Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this vintage mummy tale.
IRAS: A MYSTERY (1896) – This story was written by female author Henrietta Dorothy Everett under the pseudonym Theo Douglas. The setting is the 1880s.
Our main character, Egyptologist Ralph Lavenham, becomes haunted by Savak, an evil priest whose spirit was unleashed during a séance Lavenham attended. The spirit of this ancient Egyptian continues harassing our hero until he pieces together the fact that the ghost has an interest in a mummy that the Egyptologist owns.
Lavenham unwraps the mummy and finds the perfectly preserved body of a beautiful young Egyptian woman named Iras. In ancient Egypt Iras rejected the advances of the evil priest Savak, who placed her in suspended animation for centuries or until she agreed to a romance with him.
The ghost was so active recently because the time is near for Iras to regain consciousness. She does so, and to the fury of the ghostly Savak she and Lavenham fall in love while the Egyptologist acquaints her with the “modern” world of the 1880s.
At length Ralph and Iras marry, which proves to be the breaking point for the evil priest’s ghost. It turns out that Iras will remain alive only as long as she wears the necklace with seven pendants which Savak placed around her neck when he mummified her long ago.
Our romantic leads try to prevent this but through various supernatural means the ghost manages to steal away one pendant per week to the couple’s horror. At last the seventh pendant is stolen away and Iras dies, immediately reverting to her mummy-wrapped form.
The grief-stricken Lavenham once again unwraps the mummy, only to find Iras is now really, irrevocably dead. Upon her finger is the ring presented to the living Iras by Ralph.
Iras: A Mystery is not as horror-packed as the mummy stories I’ve examined in previous Halloween Seasons but it certainly is suspenseful. The feeling of impending doom as Savak’s machinations whittle away at the pendants is very effective.
The poignant, tragic air of the story makes you wish it had a little more oomph to it, so that it might have become almost as famous as Dracula, published the following year.
FOR A NEGLECTED WEREWOLF NOVEL SET IN 1790s NEW YORK STATE CLICK HERE
FOR ISABELLA OF EGYPT, FEATURING A GOLEM, A MANDRAGORE, A LIVING DEAD MAN, A GYPSY WITCH AND A JEWISH SORCEROR CLICK HERE
FOR MORE HALLOWEEN ITEMS CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/halloween-season/
© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.