Underneath the Paris Opera house lives a ghost, a phantom, an angel of music. He haunts those who work at the opera and although many believe the ghost is nothing but a superstition, there are those who truly fear his presence. One of those people is singer Christine Daie. Christine is an orphan and on his death bed her father promised her he would send her a The Angel of Music and this is exactly who Christine meets. Only it isn’t an angel, it’s Erik, the phantom who lives in the depths of the opera. He falls hopelessly in love with Christine and longs for her to feel the same, hoping that when she sees his true face she won’t recoil in horror. Erik’s fascination with Christine could lead to horrific outcomes for Christine and all those she cares for.
I love the musical The Phantom of the Opera, it is one of my mum’s favourites and I have lovely memories of watching the DVD and seeing the stage production in the West End. I end up in tears every time and my resounding feeling at the end is always ‘but he just wanted to be loved.’ The novel has been on my shelf for years and I have never quite managed to pick it up, which is why I put it on my TBR Pile for this year…and if I’m honest I was a little disappointed.
I found the novel really hard to get in to and I just didn’t feel much interest in the characters, despite knowing the narrative and caring about the musical version. There were points where I genuinely thought I would give up as I was losing interest. The only thing that saved the novel for me was that just over halfway through it actually became much darker and thus much more interesting. After Erik has kidnapped Christine from the stage, right in front of the eyes of the opera audience, we follow Roaul, her love interest, on his quest to find her. Roaul is helped by someone who knows Erik from his past and is aware of the depraved and warped way his mind works and is therefore looking for a trap around every corner. The description of Erik’s torture chamber and ‘house’ by the lake deep underground is terrifying and truly encompasses many gothic features, however despite how fascinating this part was, it still wasn’t enough to make me rave about this book. I think the biggest issue for me is that I know and love the musical so much that this was always going to be a tough benchmark for the book to live up to. Unlike the musical, I didn’t feel any real empathy for Erik, rather I just wrote him off as a horrid character.
I’m glad I have read it, but I don’t think The Phantom of the Opera will be making a permanent home on my bookshelf.
The Phantom of the Opera Is the third book ticked off my TBR Pile 2015 which means I am on track in terms of reading the twelve books in twelve years.
It also counts as my book for 1909 in my Reading the Twentieth Century challenge.