The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

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RATING: 2.5/5

BLURB: “Erik, the Phantom of the Paris Opera House, is one of the great icons of horror literature. This tormented and disfigured creature has made his home in the labyrinthine cellars of this opulent building where he can indulge in his great passion for music, which is a substitute for the love and emotion denied him because of his ghastly appearance. It is in the Opera House that he encounters Christine Daae whom he trains in secret to become a great singer. Erik’s passionate obsession with a beautiful woman beyond his reach is doomed and leads to the dramatic tragic finale.”

REVIEW: I should probably start by stating that I had VERY high expectations of this book. Although I’m one of those people who hates seeing a movie or play before reading the book on which it is based, I must admit that I did do this with POTO, namely because I fell in love with Lloyd Webber’s musical when I was eleven or twelve and had very little interest in reading classic literature. However, I recently decided that, as I love the musical so much, I ought to read the book upon which it is based and, I must confess, I was disappointed. In all fairness, as mentioned, my expectations for this novel were very high – yet, I found it somewhat unenjoyable. I could not summon up any feelings of affection for Christine (who in the novel acts like a weak, foolish child) or even for Raoul, her saviour, who seems inconsistent in his feelings and not particularly admirable either. Even the Phantom, Erik, whom I feel immense sympathy for in the show, is difficult to pity due to his delighting in violence, murder and torture. He is a much harsher villain than I had expected and I found his death at the end of the novel to be a fitting punishment for his actions, rather than feeling sorry for him.

I do suspect that my views on the novel are prejudiced by my love of the musical. If you have not seen the show, then perhaps you might find this book hugely enjoyable; if you have, I would caution you before reading it that compared to the musical it can be seen as somewhat disappointing.

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