Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Despite the care which she took to look behind her at every moment, she failed to see a shadow which followed her like her own shadow, which stopped when she stopped, which started again when she did and which made no more noise than a well-conducted shadow should."

The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux

368 pages

Genre:  Classics; Horror; Literature

Summary:  A mysterious entity, who refers to himself in letters as “O.G.," haunts the halls and stage of the Paris Opera House, and whenever people disobey his demands, tragic disasters occur.  After taking a young singer named Christine Daae under his wing, things around the theatre begin to go awry much more frequently.  Will the reign of terror orchestrated by this phantom ever come to an end?

Review:  I first discovered Leroux’s world as an eight-year-old when I went to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version of Phantom of the Opera on stage.  The plot completely drew me in from the very beginning, effectively terrifying and enchanting me in one fell swoop.  While the play was a bit different from the book, I was pulled in just as swiftly as I had been during my first experience with this story.

The Phantom of the Opera was a thoroughly engrossing tale full of magic, love, terror, jealousy, revenge, and murder.  While these elements tend to be rather great on their own, the combination in this book was nothing short of superb.  I could feel the terror of the characters as they tried to understand what was going on, and the images the book planted in my mind were rather fantastic, albeit scary.  This book moved quickly from one action sequence to the next, and there was very rarely a dull moment.

All of the characters were rather interesting, but I especially enjoyed Erik (or O.G., as he liked to refer to himself).  Erik was truly a madman, and watching his complete descent into madness was sad, yet fascinating.  Why do I always seem to like villains the best? 

I also really liked Raoul, the lovesick secret fiancé, as he sought to uncover the mysteries surrounding Christine.  Christine herself was a bit meek for my taste and I definitely like the more modern adaptations of her character better, but I still did feel sympathy for her as it related to the situations that she found herself in.

I don’t want to give too much away just in case you aren’t familiar with the story, but the imagination involved when Raoul made his trip in the latter part of the book was quite phenomenal. 

If you like suspenseful novels full of action and terror, The Phantom of the Opera is a must read.

Rating:  5/5

Modern Literature Inspired by The Phantom of the Opera:  The Phantom Diaries – Kailin Gow, Chanson de l’Ange – Paisley Swan Stewart, Phantom – Susan Kay