I'm slacking over here, I know...forgive me!
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- a previously unpublished story that was definitely a surprise.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unpublished one, another bittersweet one that ends with hope, and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
Your humble book nerd,