BOOK REVIEW – ROBERT BLOCH – THE OPENER OF THE WAY 1945 Panther Press
The title story of a minor and easily forgotten short horror story collection by Psycho author, and occasional star Trek episode author, Robert Bloch, proves to be a fairly dull Mummy’s Curse tale told in an H P Lovecraft style.
A deranged and greedy Egyptian archaeologist serving as a minor player in another man’s scientific expedition, discovers a rare papyrus map leading to greater treasure, and steals it from the head of his expedition. There is a sense of doom about his activity from the outset. He convinces his son to accompany him on a fanatically driven mission to seek out a strange statue of Anubis, the Jackal headed God, which he believes serves as a portal to chambers commemorating even older, more sinister Egyptian deities. The Papyrus carries instructions demanding the sacrifice of a goat, and some other directions that the father refuses to share even with his son until the last moment possible. The son is scared, but he goes along with the father anyway. Much of the story is given from the point of view of the statue itself as it watches the men trying to fathom its terrible secrets.
Finding a lost tomb, in the open desert, the pair digs and enters the chamber, and fined a vast statue of Anubis. The father now uses a hypnotic trance to put his mind inside the statue, but lacking faith, he gets trapped there, and the statue briefly comes to life to devour the son, and both men die. Their bodies are reburied and abandoned forever by the Egyptians.
A well enough written, but not particularly outstanding story, especially as the opening tale to such a collection, which also includes Bloch’s much superior Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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