book review

The Phantom of the Opera|Book Review

Title: The Phantom of the Opera

Author: Gaston Leroux

Genre: Classic, Horror, Romance

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: First published in French as a serial in 1909, The Phantom of the Opera is a riveting story that revolves around the young, Swedish Christine Daaé. Her father, a famous musician, dies, and she is raised in the Paris Opera House with his dying promise of a protective angel of music to guide her. After a time at the opera house, she begins hearing a voice, who eventually teaches her how to sing beautifully. All goes well until Christine’s childhood friend Raoul comes to visit his parents, who are patrons of the opera, and he sees Christine when she begins successfully singing on the stage. The voice, who is the deformed, murderous ‘ghost’ of the opera house named Erik, however, grows violent in his terrible jealousy, until Christine suddenly disappears. The phantom is in love, but it can only spell disaster.

Spoiler Free Review

So, I have decided I am not just going to do a simple book review for this book. I am going to do three parts: the review, connections in the book to the musical, and then my favorite phantom related videos! The last part probably isn’t necessary but I will take any chance to share my favorite Phantom of the Opera videos that I have discovered as I stay up till 2am watching them😂

Also, just found out there is going to be a TV series based off of the book and I am so excited for it! Here is the link to the article: https://deadline.com/2020/06/gaumont-developing-the-phantom-of-the-opera-tv-adaptation-1202967376/

The Review

I. Loved. This. Book. I have been in a big reading slump ever since quarantine started so its been awhile since I’ve read a book that has kept me up till 2am reading. The story follows three main characters, Erik aka the Phantom/Opera Ghost, Christine Daaé, and Vicomte Raoul de Changny. The book also follows other characters such as the Persian also known as Daroga, Armand and Firmin(the managers), and lastly, Madame Giry. But the main storyline is about Erik, Christine, and Raoul.

Erik, Erik, Erik, oh how I love him. Ever since I saw the 2004 movie, I have been team Phantom and have loved the Phantom as a character. After reading the book, I love both musical Erik and book Erik. Erik was born with a deformity and the main defining characteristic of him is how ugly, hideous, and distorted his face is. So he wears a mask to hid the hideousness of his face and to make himself more attractive, mainly for Christine. Because of how he looks, Erik has been brutally hurt by society and that is why he confined himself to the tunnels beneath the Opera House. Erik is murderous and manipulative but he is also someone who has been hurt by society, who just wants to be loved, and who’s mind has been damaged because of that. Erik is a complex character, so many times I found myself switching from hating him and being disgusted by what he’s done to others to feeling sorry for him and just wanting to give him a hug.

Poor unhappy Erik! Shall we pity him? Shall we cure him? He asked only to be “some one,” like everybody else. But he was too ugly! And he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a head that could of held the empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar. Ah, yes, we must pity the Opera ghost.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
My poor baby Erik. This is Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom in the 25th anniversary and I loved how he portrayed Erik/the Phantom. I think he did a good job balancing the murderous side and also the damaged side of the Phantom.

Christine, Christine(where in the world have you been hiding… sorry, I couldn’t resist😂). Christine is probably the main of the main characters. I believe she is about 16 in the book, but don’t quote me on that(her age isn’t really stated, I just know she is somewhat young). Her father passed away and he told her that he would send her the Angel of Music, enter Erik. Christine is a character who is trying to navigate her life without her beloved father and that is what makes her easy prey for Erik, add the notion that her father said he would send the Angel of Music, its not hard to see why she embraced Erik as her angel. As the book goes on Christine is still a bit of her innocent and naive self but as she becomes aware of who Erik is as a person and that he isn’t the angel in which her father sent, she starts to edge away from a naive girl. Especially in the final lair scene, I think that is where her character goes through the most change.

Christine played by Sierra Boggess in the 25th anniversary. Sierra is my favorite Christine, her voice is just amazing and she does such a good Christine.

Raoul, the Vicomte de Changny, his last name is so fun to say aha. It seems that for Raoul, you either love him or you don’t. I do not love Raoul, I am Team Phantom all the way, but I also do not hate him. Raoul in the book and in the musical are portrayed a little different in my opinion so it was interesting to see some differences in their character. I am not going to really dive into the differences between their character portrayal because this isn’t a compare and contrast review(although that would be a good idea for another blog post🤔). Raoul is basically a spoiled rich boy who is also Christine’s childhood friend. Raoul just felt useless in this book, theres a part in the final lair scene where Raoul and the Daroga find themselves in a not so good situation and while the Daroga kept fighting to find a way out, Raoul just, I don’t even know what he did but he did not help. I do have to give some credit to Raoul though for venturing into Erik’s house to rescue Christine.

Hadley Fraser as Raoul in the 25th anniversary. This was the first time Hadley was in Phantom and I think he did such a good job!

This book has two relationships, Erik and Christine and Raoul and Christine. First up is Raoul and Christine. Raoul and Christine are childhood friends and their love felt a little instal-love but also not because of how they are childhood friends. I can’t say I am a fan of Raoul and Christine, I just don’t think Raoul deserves Christine. Felt like he cared more about catching the Phantom than Christine. I’m going to strive from the book a bit, theres a scene in the musical, Every Twisted Way, where in the beginning Raoul tells Christine she doesn’t have to be bait for the Phantom. Yet by the end of the song, he basically says the exact opposite and that she is the only hope they have. Yes, that is musical Raoul and that doesn’t happen in the book, but I think the premise is still the same. Anyways, back to the book and Christine and Raoul’s relationship! Bottom line, Raoul did not deserve Christine.

Raoul and Christine as they remember childhood memories.

Erik and Christine, talk about a toxic relationship. Erik saw his opening to invade Christine’s life when her father died and Christine had believed he sent her the Angel of Music. Under the premise that he is her angel, Erik gave Christine lessons on singing, allowing her to become such an amazing singer. To get Christine to become a star, Erik does some unspeakable acts. The main level of toxicity in this relationship is what Erik does in the name of love for Christine. Not to mention the age gap between the two, if I am not mistaken, Erik is age somewhere around 50 where Christine is around 16. Erik manipulates Christine and the biggest form of that is in the final lair scene. As to not spoil the book, I’ll reference the musical. Erik entraps Raoul and says to Christine, “Do you end your days with me or do you send him to his grave.” So Christine has to either stay with the Phantom to save Raoul’s life or if she wants to be free, Raoul will die.

Christine and Erik during the final lair scene in the musical

This book is a book of tragedy, not only because of the events that take place, but also because of the characters, their story, and what happens to them. I loved every minute of this book and I already want to reread it😂 This book has most certainly made it on the list of my all time favorites!

Are you Team Phantom or Team Raoul? Do you have a favorite Phantom? Lets talk about it in the comments!

Book and Musical Connections

One thing I loved about reading this book was finding the connections/parallels to the musical. So many times I would be reading and just get all excited and go “Thats THIS song omg!!!” So, I thought I would share some of the connections that I found!

The first main one I found was when Joseph Buquet described how the Phantom looks to the dancers.

He is extraordinarily thin and his dress-coat hangs on a skeleton frame. His eyes are so deep that you can hardly see the fixed pupils. You just see two big black holes, as in a dead man’s skull. His skin, which is stretched across his bones like a drumhead, is not white but a nasty yellow. His nose is so little worth talking about that you can’t see it side-faced, and the absence of that nose is a horrible thing to look at. All the hair he has is three or four long dark locks on his forehead and behind his ears

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The connection to the musical is in the song Magical Lasso. In Magical Lasso Buquet sings how the phantom looks, and then Madame Giry tells him to be weary, the lyrics are:

Like yellow parchment is his skin

A great black hole served as the nose that never grew

You must be always on your guard, or he will catch you with his magical lasso

Those who speak of what they know find that, too late, that prudent silence is wise

Joseph Buquet, hold your tongue

He will burn you with the heat of his eyes

Magic Lasso from the musical Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Another connection I found was when Christine takes off Erik/the Phantom’s mask. I got excited when I made the connection because in the musical it is a scene I like so to find it in the book was exciting!

Suddenly, I felt a need to see beneath the mask. I wanted to know the face of the voice, and, with a movement which I was utterly unable to control, swiftly my fingers tore away the mask. Oh, the horror, horror, horror!

Erik, now thrice moaned the cry: “horror!…horror!…horror!

The Phantom of the Opera, page 706, by Gaston Leroux

In the musical, the song is Stranger Than You Dreamt It. The lyric I am going to feature is the Phantom talking about his face to Christine, so after she takes the mask off of him.

Stranger than you dreamt it

Can you even dare to look

Or bear to think of me?

This loathsome gargoyle, who burns in hell

But secretly yearns for heaven

Secretly… secretly

Stranger Than You Dreamt It from the musical Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Christine taking off the Phantom’s mask

The last one I want to mention is the famous chandelier dropping. I think this is one of the coolest scenes in the musical! I was not surprised to find this in the book, but nonetheless I still found it cool and exciting!

She is singing to-night to bring down the chandelier

The Phantom of the Opera, page 672, by Gaston Leroux

In the musical this line and the chandelier drop take place in two different songs. But since we are talking about the actual quote, that is said in the song Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh.

Behold! She is singing to bring down the chandelier! Hahaha!

Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh from The Phantom of the Opera musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber

So those were just some of the connections I found, obviously there were much more but this review is already long enough aha!

Favorite Videos

This part really isn’t necessary but I can never pass up an opportunity to share my favorite Phantom videos! Below are just some of my favorite videos I have come across. If you choose to check them out, which I highly recommend, I do hope you enjoy them!

Hugh Panaro’s final lair. Hugh Panaro is my second favorite Phantom, he plays the Phantom in a psychopath sort of way, in his version you want Christine to go with Raoul I feel like. Video: https://youtu.be/gK5Z1hbHOUI

John Owen Jone’s final lair. JOJ is my third favorite Phantom. I am going to provide two video links for him. The first being his Final Lair scene, he does this scream at the end which is JAW DROPPING, its absolutely crazy! The second video is him singing Music of the Night, in my opinion, JOJ sings THE best Music of the Night, when he hits that high note, just amazing! Final Lair video: https://youtu.be/oR7gtD5HoNM Music of the Night video: https://youtu.be/DkfutNIPdlM

I can’t do favorite videos and not include one from my favorite phantom! My favorite phantom(as I think I stated earlier) is Ramin Karimloo! This video is of Ramin singing a song from the Phantom of the Opera sequel, Love Never Dies. I was going to do him singing Music of the Night but I already did one for JOJ and wanted to try and give a mix of videos. This is my favorite song from Love Never Dies! Anyway, the video: https://youtu.be/MYKm7mUFGHA

The last video I am going to include is one of my absolute favorites. I have watched this so many times and laugh hard every time. This is a video of Ramin and Sierra, who were the Phantom and Christine in the 25th and Love Never Dies together, singing a POTO medley! Video: https://youtu.be/u5K-_07ua9E

If you watched the videos, which was your favorite? Lets talk in the comments! And if you have a favorite Phantom of the Opera video feel free to link it, I am always on the hunt for more!

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