(Well, that was irritating. I’d almost finished a full post when I managed, somehow, to bump the keyboard with the mouse; I’m not sure what I hit but the whole post disappeared and I could not find a way to restore the draft! Very irritating.)
I first saw the The Phantom of the Opera (the musical) when I was a kid and for a second time a couple of years ago. It was only then that I realised that the musical was based on a book. Being me, I immediately started looking for the book but it was some months before I found a copy. I read a few chapters and then got stuck in the rather dense writing. I picked it up again a few days and this time I found it a lot easier.
Did I enjoy the book? Hmm, yes, somewhat … I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t already known the basic plot. Without the element of surprise, the horror and the mystery lose quite a lot of impact. The book is written in an unusual style (for our time, at least) as the result of a journalist’s investigations into the history of the mysterious Opera Ghost. This results in a lot of the book being in first person POV (not always the journalist’s), with huge monologues and infodumps. This also means that a great deal of the plot is told, rather than shown. I found it quite choppy, jumping from one subplot to another and a lot of the characters are quite sketchily formed. However, the descriptions of the underground world of the Opera are fantastic, the backstory we get for Erik is intriguing and I found the ending to be satisfying. I do think that if I had read the book without any knowledge of the plot it would have been quite creepy and compelling.
( Further discussion, with spoilers )
Do I recommend this book? Hmm, well. I f you’ve seen the musical and you’d like more background for the story, then yes. If you’re a fan of Gothic or horror fiction, the yes. For the casual reader? Probably not.
Overall, I’m glad I read it. I like having more of the story than just the music. But maybe that’s just what the book is missing – the music!