A search for mysterious treasure in the lost jungles of South America leads four white adventurers into an undiscovered world beyond time and space — from which there is no escape — A WORLD OF TERRIFYING BEAUTY, UNEARTHLY TEMPTATION —AND COLOSSAL POWER BEYOND THE CONCEPTION OF THE HUMAN MIND!
About A. Merritt "There is no man writing today who can torture his reader by way of the suspense element as much as Merritt ... the treat of the season." - N. Y. American
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
The Face in the Abyss (1923; novel, 1931) The original novella (reprinted in Dziemianowicz, Weinberg, and Greenberg's excellent anthology, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, which is where I read it) is about four men looking for the lost Inca gold in the mountains of Peru. They find gold, all right, along with a lost world ruled by the Snake Mother.
Merritt later expanded the novella into a novel. I've never felt motivated to read the latter.
I hope you have been fortunate enough (since the post above) to discover the original follow-up novel, called The Snake Mother, published in Fantastic Novels Magazine, November 1940. It is a great fantasy!
The Face in the Abyss and The Snake Mother were later combined, heavily truncated, and published in the expanded book you mention above, The Face in the Abyss. I have compared the texts, and that one is not worth reading. It is more pulpy, with a lot of fine prose missing.
After the full version of The Metal Monster (available from Hippocampus Press), The Snake Mother is my favorite Merritt novel. Although I also have completely surrendered under The Moon Pool, with its excellent rich imagination, being the first of Merritt's I read (but today I would not re-read that book version, but instead the original fine 1918 novella, followed by the magazine sequel The Conquest of the Moon Pool).
As I discovered I posted translated scans of both novels already in this thread, but as Pho*ofuc* ruined them, here are some new ones. I recently had to read Merritt's Creep, Shadow, Creep! for a project. I thought the first novel Burn, Witch, burn! better as a whole. But especially the parts with old Ys were very well done. As this topic was rather seldom used for the fantasy plot machine - Saxon and Vance come to mind, I am not sure if Walton also used it as I never read her - one has to salute Merritt for stumbling upon such a buried myth.
Face in the Abyss is from 1980, The Moon Pool from 1978. Art is by Maroto and Woodroffe.