Continue a journey
through the catacombs of the opera house in the epic love story of The
Phantom of the Opera. Published author Michelle Rodriguez brings you 10
more of her most loved stories, previously posted for the “phans”, and a
few from her vaults. There is something for everyone on the pages of
Manifestations of a Phantom’s Soul, volume 2 as a man seeks to prove he
is more than the portrait of his face and that love can transform a
MY RATING: 5 STARS
I can't say anything about
Michelle's writing that I haven't said before, and yet I can't say
enough in praise of it, either. She consistently remains among my
favorite authors, and this collection is excellent proof why, with her
best and most daring Phantom retellings to date. As with the original Manifestations, I'll break this review down with a few comments on the highlights of the collection.
- a previously unpublished story that was definitely a surprise.
Michelle crosses territory not usually covered and puts in it a
bittersweet light. The outcome is bleak, but she rarely leaves off
without some ray of hope, and this is no exception. I appreciated Erik's
view on how faithful music always is to him, and yet it's still a cold
comfort without Christine. This line in particular got me: "But he
beckoned insanity and convinced it to possess him to every corner and
fingertip. When she nodded and set her hand in his, it felt real, and
he knew he was crazy and welcomed it."
"Ordinary" - another
unpublished one, another bittersweet one that ends with hope, and
another of her famous filler fics. This one flip-flops the original
obsession angle, putting Christine in Erik's shoes and makes him her
obsession, which intrigued me right away. The masquerade theme made this
one, just as it made "Monsters and Masks" in the previous Manifestations,
and Christine's earthbound angel costume felt perfect in the light
Michelle painted the story. I loved the imagery of an angel chasing Red
Death across a crowded dance floor, and the story opens up some
interesting questions about what it would truly mean for Erik to be
ordinary. Exquisitely done!
"Captivated" - holy flying sheep in a
ship wreck! This one is more territory that is very, very, VERY rarely
covered, and I give Michelle a standing ovation for going there. Not
many Phantom writers dare to, whether out of blind love for the
characters or fear of backlash from readers, and it's about time we took
the blinkers off! There's some intense moral complexity in this
one...Erik's actions as a captor are, on the surface, despicable, and
yet his motivations are desperate enough to inspire pity. The decisions
he makes are appalling, and yet there is always the chance of redemption
in his love for Christine. And in the end, it's love and nothing less
that matters. Love through desire, and desire through love...yes, you
can read between the lines and tell that this one definitely isn't for
the faint of heart. But if you like steamy, kinky stuff, forget Fifty Shades of Grey! Don't even give it a thought! This is what you should be reading!
Me Not" - an amnesia story, as you might have guessed from the title,
and one of the most haunting Michelle has ever written, in my opinion. A
classic fanfiction twist, and I have to call this one my favorite
rendition. If "Ordinary" and "Haunted" are bittersweet, then this one is
doubly so. Again, Erik's actions are deplorable, but his motives still
drive it home. This is a man desperate for his beloved to love him in
return, and it drives him to do desperate things. This one is probably
the most tragic Michelle has ever written, because it might have ended
happily! If not for another lie, it would have! I don't really blame
Christine for her reaction, but my heart still breaks!
In My Story" - an oldie, but a goody. I love angry Christine! You never
see enough of her in other retellings, as most authors opt for the
bland, one-dimensional airhead (thanks a freaking lot, Webber).
Christine as Leroux wrote her had backbone, and she was rightfully
furious that Erik had deceived her by pretending to be the Angel of
Music, and I'm so glad Michelle explored that aspect in greater detail.
It hurts to see him trying so hard to make up for the lie and getting
nowhere, but I'm 100% on her side in this one. It takes a monster to
manipulate someone like that, and his further actions do nothing to
atone for it. Under close examination and after deep thought, I'm going
to call this one my favorite of the book. Nice psychological insight,
and more of the music that binds these two together, no matter how
irritated Christine is by that simple fact. Brava!
"Let It Bleed"
- no, wait, this might also be a contender for the favorite...Too many
people shy away from an Erik that's this aggressive, but I love it! His
duality is summed up perfectly here, with anger and rage followed by
tenderness and repentance and topped off with a little of his trademark
self-loathing. The aspect of the original story that always attracts me
is the symbolism of mirrors, and Michelle uses it to good effect here.
She brings her story full circle, from a monster reflected in a mirror
to a man in need of forgiveness and understanding and back to his
determination to be a monster if it means he can have the woman he
loves. Christine's line from the musical comes to mind: "It's in your
soul that the true distortion lies." Erik in a nutshell!
So, bottom line; if you like The Phantom of the Opera
and you want more, you need to give this one a shot. Everyone is
guaranteed to find something to love here, and definitely something to
think about. The face doesn't make the man. It's what's in his heart and
the choices he makes that reveals a flawed but beautiful human being. A
worthy addition to any Phantom collection, and I'm already eager for a
I'm behind on the post, but not on the event! National Novel Writing Month is here again! My goodness, where has the time gone?
Since I'm already in the middle of a novel (about 170 pages into it, so far), I'm going to skip that part of the challenge, along with the 50,000 word count. That just ain't happening. And I'm not going to be stupid enough to try and edit three novels in thirty days ever again, either. I thought I'd shake it up this year...one poem a day, every day for two weeks, then a short story per week for two weeks. I'm alternating between the two, and I've already got my first two poems done.
Wish me luck for the rest of the month, and for my fellow scribblers, the best of luck to you!
Now, here's an example of where I think a book trailer fell flat. It's fast and sleek, but...it doesn't tell you anything! If I hadn't read the summary first, I would have been perplexed! Let's try an experiment. Watch this:
Bellman and Black - Diane Setterfield
Now tell me if you want to read the book? Of course you don't! You don't know what it's about! To spare you the confusion, here's the blurb: "Bellman & Black
is a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story, beautifully and irresistibly
written, its ratcheting tension exquisitely calibrated line by line.
Its hero is William Bellman, who, as a boy of 11, killed a shiny black
rook with a catapult, and who grew up to be someone, his neighbours
think, who "could go to the good or the bad." And indeed, although
William Bellman's life at first seems blessed—he has a happy marriage to
a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong
children, and thrives in business—one by one, people around him die. And
at each funeral, he is startled to see a strange man in black, smiling
at him. At first, the dead are distant relatives, but eventually his own
children die, and then his wife, leaving behind only one child, his
favourite, Dora. Unhinged by grief, William gets drunk and stumbles to
his wife's fresh grave—and who should be there waiting, but the smiling
stranger in black. The stranger has a proposition for William—a
mysterious business called "Bellman & Black . . ."
I think it sounds good, but who in the world made that video?!
NOT A FAIR QUESTION! Who has just ONE favorite part?!
I'll break it down in Act 1 and Act 2. First one is definitely "Music of the Night." Not only is it one of my favorite songs, period, it's one of the most beautiful scenes in the whole production in either the show or the movie. And I think my favorites IN the scene are Gerard Butler and John Owen-Jones. Both have such magnetic auras, they command your attention, and while they have very different voices, they both give me shivers.
Act 2..."The Point of No Return" all the way through the Final Lair. It's impossible to break that one down. So much passion and drama, and oh my Lord, the feels! The feels! As for favorites, I'm sticking with GB and JOJ. Hugh Panaro is high up there as well, but Gerry and John have the ability to tear me apart and leave me a blubbering, emotional wreck.