Sunday, June 30, 2013

Title:     The Phantom of the Opera
Author:  Gaston Leroux
Rating:  ★★★1/2

[edited to include blurb and link below]

I had no expectations when I started reading The Phantom of the Opera except that it was going to be dark and terribly sad. I didn't expect to finish it with happiness yet tinged with sadness. It's a sad story, to be sure, but it is just so beautiful and so...lively, that I really enjoyed it. This is definitely one of those books I'm glad I bought and read!

As Messieurs Richard and Moncharmin prepare to take over as acting managers of the Opera House, they discover their predecessors have bequeathed them the 'Opera Ghost'. A separate memorandum book has been set aside for his various whims, including extravagant financial needs. Heedless of numerous warnings to comply with these strange demands the managers shrug it all of as a practical joke taken too far. Then a sequence of eerie coincidences and tragic events follow, culminating in the sudden disappearance of the beautiful prima donna Christine Daae in the middle of a performance.

Tortured by pangs of unrequited love, the mysterious figure living beneath the Opera House has been awaiting his chance to strike- and once he does, he is deadly...

The workings of Erik's mind are so clever and so diabolical at the same time that I marvel at Gaston Leroux's imagination. His biography struck me as a little fanciful about life, and the tone of The Phantom of the Opera is indeed light for me, and yet Erik was just plain creepy. It is stated in the epilogue that he seems to not know the difference between good and bad, but by the time he grew up, based on his experiences with different people in different countries, I think he knows. He was, after all, also shown kindness but by very few people.

Erik was truly a monster -- not physically but internally. But he was not a monster from birth. Sure, he has monstrous features but I think he became a real 'monster' because of how he was treated from birth -- unloved, disdained, and inspiring fear in everyone he meets just by his face alone. What else can he be but who he was?

Then he finds light, salvation, in the beauty of Christine Daae and he longs to have what everyone wants -- someone who will love him for him -- and tries to lure him by his beautiful voice alone. I think everyone does crazy things when they're in love, and when they feel unloved. Although thankfully not everyone is driven to the same insanity as he was.

Thankfully, Christine was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside, and it is this goodness of her that saves her, Raoul, and Erik himself. I think Erik's very love for Christine herself also saves him from being regarded as a total blackguard. And I think it is this love that redeems him from being labeled as one of the blackest villains in literature.

I was just surprised that despite the murders, the tricks that Erik did throughout the book, in the end you cannot help but sympathize with him and feel just a little bit sorry. I finally come to the realization that all he ever needed was someone to look past his looks and into his soul and give him just a little bit of kindness. That was it.

I marvel at Gaston Leroux's writing that left me laughing, sympathetic, sad, and yet joyful all in one book. There was no excessive emotion that left me in tears and feeling so weighed down, but I felt enough to make me truly like the book. I think I want to look for other books by Leroux, especially the stories about Joseph Rouletabille.

I give this 4.5 stars because there were times that I was bored and I just wanted to get to the meaty, emotional parts, but I think that's mostly influenced by what I've already watched than by the writing of Gaston Leroux itself.
Just a warning: The story is different from the portrayals in the theater and the movies. I was actually imagining the story in my mind's eye based on the set visuals from the media, and it was helpful in going through the book, but the story line was a little different. I must say, though, that all versions of The Phantom of the Opera that I have seen/read (the movies, the theater performance, and the book itself) are all beautiful.

How about you, have you read The Phantom of the Opera?


If you're in the USA, The Phantom of the Opera play is currently showing in several states (NY, TX, OH, to name a few). The Phantom of the Opera is such an enduring and great story that seeing it on stage here in the Philippines (albeit played by different theater actors and actresses) is one of my favorite experiences. To know more about the play and to buy tickets, head on over to the Main Event Specials page.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. New paragraph added at the request of Main Event Specials for free cross-marketing purposes. I am in no way associated with Main Event Specials and have not tried out the service.



  1. I have seen the Broadway musical, but never read the book! Thank you for an interesting review. New follower :)

    I would love it if you would stop by my blog and follow as well!!

    ChelseyCharming Chelsey’s

    1. Thank you for the nice feedback, Chelsey! I'll visit your blog. Thanks for visiting My Book Musings :)

  2. I think I've seen one of the older versions of the movie and liked it. Although I do always like mysterious guys with secrets xD I'm glad that you pointed out that the book is different so I, like you, don't really go in with any expectation. I will definitely read this sometime. Thanks for visiting my blog!

    1. Thank you, Alise! Yes, it's pretty different, not as...breathtaking as the theater perfomances, but the story is as lovely.


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