Sunday, January 1, 2012

Reviews From an HBN (Phantom - Susan Kay)

I know, I know, I should be posting a review for whatever book is next on the BBC's list, but I have to cover this one first. I just have to.

In this retelling, Susan Kay gives us the life story of Erik, the tortured genius who became the Phantom of the Opera. From his early years with his mother, to imprisonment in a gypsy camp, to the royal court of Persia, and finally, the Paris Opera House, we get to see the story from several new perspectives.


Here is my review as posted on GoodReads:

 I've met my match. I have never ever ever come across a book, barring this one, that I just couldn't handle reading for extended periods of time. Not because it was bad, but because it was just so darn sad!

I'm a huge fan of Leroux's original novel and I'm always nervous about reading anything to do with Phantom of the Opera (I'm still recovering from The Phantom of Manhattan), but there really wasn't anything to worry about with this one. Susan Kay did a remarkable job of fleshing out Erik's previously shadowy past. Her original characters were well-drawn; I still have mixed feelings about Madeleine and I liked Giovanni almost as much as Nadir. The part that concerned me the most turned out to be the part that most blew me away: Erik's characterization. It wasn't overdone or understated, it was just right. The pain, the passion, the was all so Erik I can't find the words to do it justice. It turned me into a sniffling, sobbing wreck!

I do have just one little problem with it, though. From Erik's birth to his taking up residence in the Opera House was told in such detail that when Christine finally arrived on the scene, it seemed to fly by too fast by comparison. I understand that the Erik/Christine/Raoul triangle was covered good and plenty by Leroux so there's no need to go all-out when the book had already gone on so long, but I thought a little more time might have been spent on it. It was the most pivotal, important relationship of Erik's tormented life, and as such it should have been treated with more thought.

And yet I have to hand it to Ms. Kay. She worked me over so well with the last scene at the house on the lake I wanted to tear my hair out in anguish. It was so intense and so electrically charged I couldn't sleep after reading it (which was pretty rough, as I couldn't stop thinking about it, thus furthering the torment). And the last bits from Raoul's perspective were rather touching, which came as a surprise since he seemed like such a minor character up until then.

All in all, a must-read for phans and heck, anyone who needs a good cry. Take the advice I didn't, and keep the tissues handy!

 I know I'm a masochist now, because I'll be rereading this one for sure. Read it yourself if you want, or don't, but you're missing something!

Your humble book nerd,

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