Sunday, August 18, 2013

Review: Love Changes Everything - Kelly McQuinn

I realize I missed Phantom Friday this week, but considering the way things haven't been moving according to plan so far as my dinky little blog goes, you'll forgive me for posting off-schedule.

A young girl. An Opera Ghost. A year after the incident with Christine another soprano finds herself in the Phantom's lair, but this time one with much more ability and drive. Can she convince him to make her a star or will he find a way to dispose of her first?


I ping-ponged back and forth on my rating for a second, then decided to round it up. What I liked outweighed whatever little nitpicks I had.

First off, I wish this could have been longer. Some parts were nicely developed, and others were good enough that I would have liked more time spent on them. I never got bored while reading (which happens too often when reading Phantom of the Opera retellings and sequels, only a handful of which are worth the time and effort) and enjoyed the story so much I hated to see it come to the end.

I admit, I had my doubts at first. In the beginning, it felt like déjà vu with a heroine similar enough to Christine it could have served the same purpose just to drop thoughts of an original character altogether and just rolled on with the existing one. Is this the same story all over again? No, wait, Antoinette is spunky and stubborn and the exact opposite of Christine, barring the fact that she has a near-perfect voice that needs tutoring. Oh no, it's worse than I thought! It's a Christine 2.0!

Ha ha, not. Antoinette looked like a potential Mary Sue, but as the story went along she grew. She got more and more interesting, and soon enough she was interesting on her own, not just for the way she managed to push Erik's buttons. She didn't behave like most OCs I've read in various fan fictions, which was a huge relief, and she did a few things I've never seen ANY characters do in various fan fictions, which was a breath of fresh air.

Erik's characterization was spot-on. Ms. McQuinn nailed the vital traits such as sarcasm, arrogance, bad temper, odd humor, and a little self-pity. The interaction between him and Antoinette took up most of the book, and I'll repeat the phrase "ping-pong" to describe it. They bounced back and forth, bickering and pestering each other and trying to wear each other down, then everything moved from there. And the best part about the E/A love story? It didn't happen right away! There is nothing more annoying than a sequel in which Erik miraculously forgets his all-consuming obsession with Christine in favor of a girl who just walks into the lair, sees past the hideous disfigurement that has made him an outcast his entire life, and instantly falls in love with him. The instance of Antoinette finding herself in the lair to start with seemed a bit unlikely, but the important plot point was not.

The second half of the book was my favorite, with all of those rare plot twists that actually work, but it's where I found most of my developing nitpicks. I would have liked to see more about the rivalry between Antoinette and Juliet and a little more of a transition between the Comte as a smitten suitor and the Comte as an abusive a-hole. On the other hand, I have no beef whatsoever with the climax and the ending. If the Erik-has-a-deformed-child ending is rare, then this one is just about unheard of. In fact, I haven't seen one like it yet, and I applaud Ms. McQuinn for pulling it off.

Let's see, what else? It was an enjoyable read, and certainly not one I regret, like others I could name *cough*ThePhantomofManhattan*cough* There were enough Leroux elements to satisfy me, with a few Kay and Webber twists to keep me on my toes. Tired of the same old, same old in the world of Phantom fan fiction? Give this one a try!

Your humble book nerd,

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