She Who Comes Forth is the newest volume in the Herbert West series by Canadian author, Audrey Driscoll. Previous volumes have chronicled the life of Herbert West, a character originally created by H.P. Lovecraft. Although this volume can stand alone as an engrossing story, I recommend reading the series in order plus reading the supplement A Visit to Luxor. That supplement provides the immediate background to this novel.
Our heroine is France Leighton, granddaughter of Herbert West’s granddaughter. France was first mentioned in book number 4 of the series, Hunting the Phoenix. Newly graduated from university in 1962 with a degree in ancient history, France is recruited to document the finds of an archeological dig near Luxor, Egypt. With her goes her cello, Eudora, who serves as the voice of France’s inner wisdom. France also brings the alchemical emerald ring first mentioned in book number one of the series, The Friendship of Mortals. While the Cold War heats up, France meets an attractive nuclear physicist who may be an unknown relation. He promises to show her an unknown tomb. When she realizes his true intention is to release evil powers, she has to draw on powers both within herself and from ancient Egypt to defeat him.
I learned much about Egyptian mythology while reading this novel. The plot and the characters are compelling, contrasting worlds of science and technology with that of ancient Egypt. The characters reveal the ethical questions faced by archaeologists. Even though I found France’s naivete frustrating at times, I needed to know how the novel would end. The final confrontation is worthy of an Indiana Jones-style movie!
I suspect that some of the characters and situations are present to provide a foundation for future novels. My only criticism is that they appear incidental and random in the context of She Who Comes Forth. For example, Jack Stark and Alain Brossard are two fellow archaeologists who perform with France at a concert where she meets the mysterious nuclear physicist, Adam Dexter. Jack drops out of the plot shortly thereafter by moving back to America, but then sends France a postcard. Is the postcard important? Will Jack be significant later? Likewise, a man with a purple and gold striped necktie from the Egyptian Department of Antiquities appears twice, but doesn’t appear to have a role other than to be a possible love interest for wife of the chief archaeologist on the dig.
I have never read any Lovecraft, so cannot evaluate whether this novel will be attractive to Lovecraft fans. Lovers of supernatural adventure and historical fiction involving ancient Egypt should certainly enjoy it. Archaeologists or enthusiasts of archaeology will find a realistic depiction of their subject within a fictional setting.
Who will come forth next? Will France find the “luck, courage and wisdom” needed for the next step of her journey? What of the emerald ring? Follow Audrey Driscoll’s blog Elements and Transformations at https://audreydriscoll.com/ for clues.
(reviewed 46 days after purchase)