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Book Reviews

Revisiting the classics: The Phantom of the Opera

I recently read The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, and did you know that this is not a romance novel?? 

I wish someone had told me that, I would have read it years ago!

But let me be more clear. The Phantom of the Opera might be considered a romance, if you consider unhealthy relationships romantic.*

I personally would classify it as a Mystery/Gothic novel. It kind if reminded me of Frankenstein, because of the dark plot, dramatic characters and the ugly misunderstood villain. Also the permanent sense that something is about to go very wrong.

Overall, I think it was a fun experience, even if it takes time to get to the fun parts. I also disliked all the characters, but I think that works well for this book. I was there just for the mystery and drama, anyway.

*I might be exaggerating a bit for the sake of comedy, but I do believe that this novel’s genre is not “Romance”.

The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of an opera house haunted by a mysterious man with a dead’s head. It is not clear to anyone whether the Opera Ghost is a real apparition or just a disfigured, wretched man who lives inside the opera. The narrator of the book, an investigator who apparently interviewed most of the characters, tells us that everything we are reading is real, and provides letters and transcriptions to tell the whole story (I found that really cool).

First we get to know Christine Daaé, a soprano singer who has been receiving lessons from an “Angel of music”. This Angel is such a great teacher that the first night Christine sings in a leading role ends in astonishing success. She sings so beautifully that one of her childhood friends, Raoul de Changy, who was listening in the public, suddenly recalls his undying love for her.

Raoul tries to get in touch with Christine after the show, and she rejects him. But he feels entitled to her love, so he keeps trying to be with her and follows her, and that’s when he discovers that she might be rejecting him because someone is forcing her.

Christine also sends Raoul mixed messages. Sometimes she accepts his romantic gestures, sometimes she ignores him. She is scared because her Angel of music is starting to sound really jealous. And at the same time, the Opera Ghost is getting angrier.

And I won’t say much about the ghost because it’s more fun if you read the book. But he’s an ugly ghost, not like in the musical/movie. And he’s not nice at all.

you-should-read-it-if

  1. You are a fan of Gothic/horror novels: If you are into Gothic novels, I’m pretty sure you will like this one. If you’re a horror fan, you might find it a bit boring at first (there’s not a lot of action in the first 1/3 of the book), but it pays off at the end.
  2. You like Frankenstein: I love Frankenstein and since I read it a couple of years ago I hadn’t found similar books, until this one. It has a similar atmosphere and characters (especially the ugly misunderstood villain)
  3. You want to read more classics to get the references: A few months ago I got Roseblood by A.G. Howard, a YA novel that is also a retelling of The Phantom. And I really wanted to read the original first so I could get all the references and enjoy it more!

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