In the beginning, I was relatively unimpressed. It started like many other classics I've read, so why would it be different from any other? I loved the writing style, elegant words strung together in such a fashion that I read efficiently, and I found none of those cumbersome, hard to decipher sentences that seem to plague me with other works. The story, in the beginning, mind you, could've used a little boost: it was definitely on the slower end of things. For me "riveting" isn't how I'd describe it until halfway through, when we finally get toward the action side of things.
The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'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. Leroux's work, with characters ranging from the spoiled prima donna Carlotta to the mysterious Persian from Erik's past, has been immortalized by memorable adaptations. Despite this, it remains a remarkable piece of Gothic horror literature in and of itself, deeper and darker than any version that follows.'
It's kind of funny, because usually I really gravitate towards heroines, but with this book the heroine was definitely not who I was intrigued by. Yes, Christine does play her part in the story, but the character who grabbed my attention was the mysterious phantom. Not only is he masked, he can also blackmail with the best of them. He's a sort of eccentric super spy who hides out in an opera house: you never know if he's there or not.
This style of classic is a bit of a melodrama- but I feel like it definitely works for it. Modern works of fiction tend to stray too far into soap opera territory, but there's something about Gothic style classics that invariably appeal to me, even when they go a little far. Sometimes, one needs a book with a lot of emotional flair, even when one purports oneself to be dispassionate.
One of my favorite quotes:
None will ever be a true Parisian who has not learned to wear a mask of gaiety over his sorrows and one of sadness, boredom, or indifference over his inward joy.~The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, page 15 Kindle edition
The Phantom of the Opera is a love story, a horror story, and an antihero tale wrapped into one. Personally, the antihero tale is what kept me engrossed in this particular book- I've long been a fan of characters who are less than perfect. Add in a writing style that make the pages flick by with the greatest of ease, while evoking beautiful ideas and imagery, and I was head over heels for this book. I recommend The Phantom of the Opera for those who love heroes who may be villains as well.
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars for a classic that took me completely by surprise!
Content: Ages 16+ for scary bits (with violence).
Page Count: 225 pages