This book has been on my radar since I finished Webb’s cowritten novel, THE LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS. I loved that book and was eager to read more by her. Plus throw in that Phantom of the Opera is indeed one of my favorite films/operas and you have a reader who was EXTRA eager to read this book.
This book is told from Christine’s perspective which intrigued me. I have never read the original Phantom of the Opera novel by Gaston Leroux, but I’m curious about how much of the original influenced this retelling.
Christine Daaé sings with her violinist father in salons all over Paris, but she longs to practice her favorite pastime—illusions. When her beloved Papa dies during a conjurer’s show, she abandons her magic and surrenders to grief and guilt. Life as a female illusionist seems too dangerous, and she must honor her father’s memory.
Concerned for her welfare, family friend Professor Delacroix secures an audition for her at the Opéra de Paris—the most illustrious stage in Europe. Yet Christine soon discovers the darker side of Paris opera. Rumors of murder float through the halls, and she is quickly trapped between a scheming diva and a mysterious phantom. The Angel of Music.
But is the Angel truly a spirit, or a man obsessed, stalking Christine for mysterious reasons tangled in her past?
As Christine’s fears mount, she returns to her magical arts with the encouragement of her childhood friend, Raoul. Newfound hope and romance abounds…until one fateful night at the masquerade ball. Those she cares for—Delacroix, the Angel, and even Raoul—aren’t as they seem. Now she must decide whom she trusts and which is her rightful path: singer or illusionist.
To succeed, she will risk her life in the grandest illusion of all (summary from Goodreads).
It is almost impossible to review this book without comparing it to the Andrew Lloyd Webber version. For me in the Andrew Lloyd Webber version of Phantom, I was never really a fan of Christine. She is so innocent and impressionable that it bordered on ridiculous. I mean come on…..creepy mysterious masked man visits young girl in her bedroom and basically stalks her and she’s more or less ok with that?! Strange. But as a fan I am willing to go on a little bit of faith and see that Christine was young and desperate for companionship.
What did it for me was Raoul and the Phantom himself. Raoul is everything a well structured hero should be. Dashing, handsome, free thinking, brave, protective, and titled. He can give Christine everything she wants and needs. But the Phantom understands her in a way that no one else can. The love he feels for Christine isn’t something beautiful and idealistic, but dark, twisted and messy—romantic. Horribly romantic.
So with that in mind this book was very interesting to me and yet left me conflicted. I think Webb did a great job at showing the side of the characters that we don’t really see in the ALW version of this story. Again I haven’t read the original novel, so keep that in mind as you read this review. The Christine we meet in this book is clearly very trusting and idealistic, much like how she is portrayed in the ALW version. But in this novel she comes into her own as the novel builds. I personally had a hard time with her character in this book.
I am not sure what exactly didn’t work other than at times she seemed a little wishy washy. I had a hard time believing that she was so conflicted about Raoul and the Phantom AKA Erik. She seemed to flip flop between innocent/scared and confident/brave. I wanted to see more of a steady change in her and I actually would have liked her better had she been a little more brazen. Not totally like Carlotta but channeled a little more of her spirit throughout the novel rather than just at the end.
The magician perspective was interesting. I liked how it worked into the Phantom’s plot and back story. I am not sure that I liked it for Christine though. For me it seemed off, perhaps because when I think of Christine, I think of the ALW version where singing was her life and she lived to perform. This was an interesting take on her character that I wasn’t entirely sure worked.
What I did like was how Raoul was portrayed. In the ALW version, he’s this clean cut, quintessential hero. In this book, Webb makes him a little more edgy and I like how that plays out. I wish she had milked that a little longer though. I would have liked to see a little more torment over that between him and Christine. For me this added a lot to the story and characters.
I also liked how the Phantom’s story took on a life of its own. The story of Erik is tragic, dark, and intriguing and here Webb really utilizes that and makes it even more sensational that it already is. I liked how she used magic, conjuring, and illusion to help add depth to his narrative. For me this is what really worked well in the novel. He is the most sympathetic character throughout the story in my opinion.
What I would have liked to have seen more of was romance. Toward the end we get a little romance but for a story well known for it’s tormented romance and sensualism, I didn’t get that in this book. I don’t think it needed to be all bodice ripper-ish, but something more than what we got toward the end would have been nice.
Over all I think this was a good book, I liked it but I didn’t love it in the way that I hoped. It’s still a 4 star review for me because I really do love the concept of an alternative chain of events than traditional Phantom cannon, but I think more could have been done for Christine. For me the Phantom stole the show which perhaps isn’t a surprise.
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Kindle EditionExpected publication: February 6th 2018 by Sonnet Press (first published 2017)
- Review copy provided by: Author/Publisher in exchange for an honest review as part of the HFVBT
This book counts toward: NA
- Hosted by: NA
- Books for Challenge Completed: NA
Recommendation: 4 out of 5
Genre: Historic fiction, romance, gothic lit, Victorian lit
Memorable lines/quotes: NA
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Review at The Maiden’s Court
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Feature at Passages to the Past
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