The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux

It is April, and I am now on my second of twelve TBR Challenge books. This is going swimmingly.

On the plus side, I found this and another TBR book on the OverDrive app I just downloaded for my phone, which makes listening to things at work very slightly easier since I don’t have to transfer them from CD to iPod. Of course, I’ve only found a few books I’m interested in available on the app, but that could change.

Anyway. Phantom. I’ve loved the musical soundtrack since high school, and I saw the musical back then with my bestie (love to Laura!), and also sometime around then I purchased a copy of the book. This is like six or seven years ago. I’m pretty sure I haven’t even cracked open the book. Oops. -gets up from couch-

-cracks open the book on principle-

-returns to couch, is attacked by cat, is now writing this while peering over a cat-

Right, yes. So these days, I am not quite as obsessed with Phantom as I was back then, which is probably good because the book? Not so much the same. Not as different as, say, Wicked (holy heck those are two different beasts), but still I found myself thinking, “This didn’t happen in the musical. This DEFINITELY didn’t happen in the musical. Oh, this part happened, kind of.”

It’s the same baaaasic plot. There’s an Opera Ghost, he teaches a young woman (Christine) to sing amazingly well, he becomes jealous when an old friend of Christine’s (Raoul) shows up all lovey, he tries to make Christine his wife through force. This is never a good idea.

But the Opera Ghost of the novel, Erik, is much more menacing than I recall the musical Phantom being β€” he weighs heavily upon Christine and Raoul’s relationship much earlier, and his retaliation for their love is scarier and rather more psychopathic. I can see how Erik would not appeal to a mass audience.

What I did like more about the book is that it is presented as a frame story, which I am a sucker for, and so Leroux makes it out like he’s actually researched this Opera Ghost and learned all about him through testimony from the various characters (including a “Persian” who pretty much writes the last few chapters), and he does that thing I sometimes like where he gives away what’s coming up and I get all antsy waiting to see how it’ll happen.

Overall, though, I think I’ll stick with my beloved Michael Crawford; the book is quite good, but the musical is just happier!

Recommendation: For fans of the musical or of psychological horror. That’s sort of a strange combination, I think.

Rating: 7/10
(A to Z Challenge, TBR Challenge)

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