What wouldn’t you do to live forever?

The Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg, was originally published in 1972. Silverberg is known as a science fiction writer but I’ve never read a novel of his and I was having a lot of trouble finding a horror novel to finish this section of my 5 book challenge.

The premise is four male college students find an ancient text that tells them if they present themselves to a priesthood in Nevada and 2 of them die, the other two will have eternal life.

On their spring break, they decide to investigate….

Timothy comes from an upper class background. He provides the car for the trip but he thinks it’s all just a joke.

Eli is the linguistics scholar who translated the ancient scroll. He so desperately wants it to be true that he’d give up his life.

Ned is gay and has a troubled self-image. He supposes the others will choose him to die if it comes to that.

Oliver is a poor but brilliant farm boy with no sense of the mystic. However, there is nothing that would stop him from an eternal life if it should be real.

The story is very different depending on how the reader interprets the events, which I much enjoyed. It was also was narrated by 4 different points of view which Silverberg handled well.

The only flaw was the section with the “sex priestesses” who were not people in any sense of the word. Truly disgusting.

The climax of the story are the characters’ revelations of their worst secret. This was the best part of the book, and the main reason I suggest it.

The fantasy elements are subtle but the evil that lies inside human hearts is chilling regardless.

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