This post contains SPOILERS!!!! Like ENDING SPOILERS (I got a little bit ranty) so if you don't want the book SPOILED for you STOP HERE!!
A child is born... His mother's only gift is a mask. Precocious and gifted, he will live friendless and alone. taunted and abused, he will flee, only to find himself caged again-as a freak in a Gypsy carnival. A brilliant outcast... the world is his home. Filled with bitter rage, he will kill to escape, becoming a stonemason's apprentice in Rome... a dark magician at the treacherous Persian court... and finally, the genius behind the construction of the Paris Opera House and the labyrinthine world below. Lacking one thing only: A woman's love. Cloaked in secrets, his power complete, he will see the exquisite Christine and for the first time know what it means to love. Obsessed, he will bring her into his eerie subterranean world, driven to posses her heart and soul. Phantom--A haunting story of power and darkness, of magic and murder, of sensuality and betrayal, and ultimately, the unforgettable story of a man and a woman and the eternal quality of love.
(Image and Description from Goodreads.com)
dun, dun, duunnnnn.
So, all in all I found this book very enjoyable to read - if totally depressing, but I suppose I can forgive that since it isn't supposed to be a happy novel anyway.
This book is an imaginary take on what Erik's life could have been like mostly before he became the Phantom of the Opera. Following him through from his birth to his death, During his friendship with the Persian and his attraction to Christine.
The book is told from various view points. Erik, Christine, Erik's mother, the Persian and the master stonemason that Erik studies under for a time. Each different person gives us a unique glance into how they view Erik and what they think of him which I found far more enjoyable than if it had been told just through one persons eyes.
It was pretty cool how Erik came to have a house under the Opera – since according to this plot he was actually helping Garnier build it. And then there is also the reason for the salary that he demands from the managers which was all tied in.
He (The Phantom) is not the youthful, sexy Phantom of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, he is the skeletal, smelling of death, no nose, Erik that Leroux told us of. With emotional and mental baggage to fill a jumbo jet.
But...I do have some issues with this book. Mainly with the way it ended, but a couple that carry on throughout the novel.
The first problem that I had was Erik's addictions brought on from his time in Persia. Now I get that he is troubled and needs to mask his pain and all that jazz but to me I thought it wasn't really needed especially since it throws out the time that Christine spends with him when he kidnaps her the first time. She basically ends up being his nurse after he has what I can only guess is a heart attack.
*BIG MAJOR UBER SPOILER*
My one major issue with this book, the issue that makes all the others pale in comparison is Christine becoming pregnant with HIS CHILD!!.
Now I will say that I have no problem at all with Christine having the Phantom's child - no problem at all...IF IT MAKES SENSE! In my mind this makes no sense at all, it seems to have just been thrown in there for the sake of it when I don't think it was needed. After all, I have just had 400-500 pages of Phantomy amazingness and then wham, I have this thrown at me.
This happens when Christine returns to the Phantom to give him an invitation to her wedding (he made her promise before he let the Persian, Raoul and her go). She goes to his home and he is kind of, sort of, DYING! What did she do. Take advantage of him or something?
And just to add another level of strangeness when Christine and Raoul left the Phantom's lair, Erik had seemed to settle himself on viewing Christine as his daughter. Okay, I can deal with that - I think. And then the next thing you know she's pregnant. That totally threw me for a loop. Couldn't the author just pick one type of relationship and STICK with it.
And then this leads me to my next gripe. Her cryptic way of telling Raoul. She tells him that she wants to put the wedding of for a month so that he (Raoul) can be sure than he forgives her. WHAT!? How the heck was Raoul supposed to know what she was talking about. And what is even sadder is that when she goes into labour he thinks that the baby is premature and is worried about losing both of them and the doctor tells him the baby is full term and that is when everything basically falls into place in his mind. SO SAD.
So yeah, by the end I really don't like Christine (not that I liked her all that much anyway) and I am feeling very sorry for Raoul (who I normally want to Punjab lasso as soon as I see his name).
And now to my last ...problem. (Alright, so it's not my last problem but it is the only other one I am going to bore you with.
What is with this book? There was NO NEED for her to die. What was the point? It didn't accomplish anything other than to leave Raoul raising a child that he knows isn't his and not really minding. I could have understood it if a lovey, dovey, slushy, supernatural element has been thrown in where Christine and Erik are finally together or something like that but...but...this makes NO SENSE!!!! Well to me at least.
All in All
So my final opinion on this book. I liked it - even if it was a bit depressing - and if I ignore the take on what happens between Erik and Christine and just focus on Erik's like before the Opera House I like it even more.
A wonderful read until the last...50 pages.
(This was originally posted on my Phantom Novel Reviews blog in February 2011)