Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Creepy Classic: Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera

My Creepy Classic for July is none other than Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera. I barely got through this book due to my hectic summer schedule. Where do I start with this review? The book conceptually was really cool. But the beginning was a bit hum drum for my taste. For me, the book finally captivated my attention once I read the part describing Christine's past. Her sweet childhood memories with the viscount, Raoul, were lovely, truly. Christine’s father's fable about the “Angel of Music” was even more intriguing, especially once Gaston wove its concept into Christine’s reality with the phantom. Upon Christine’s father’s death he swore he’d send her the “Angel of Music” to give her the gift of song. And several year’s later she found herself at the Paris Opera House, stumbling upon the phantom, her real life “Angel of Music.”


Gaston created a spellbinding world within a world with the Opera Ghost. For the better part of the book it was - Who is he? What is he? Is he real or is he a mere tale, created by overactive imagination of the patrons at the Paris Opera House. I found myself laughing several times when the managers read the demands of the Opera Ghost. And what ludicrous demands they were such as his own private box and his financial stipends etc… This notion of a being or figment of people’s imagination was all speculation at first – at least for some people. As the story continued to unfold, Christine becomes more paramount in the sadistic, bizarre realm of the Opera Ghost. Midway through the novel, Raoul learns the ghost has a name, Erik. And things aren’t as ghostly as they were. They are actually worse, creepier and possibly deadlier.


But the tale teeters on a love triangle between a childhood romance of Raoul and Christine and then, of course, the infamous Opera Ghost, Erik. At times, as the reader, I wanted to reach in and smack Raoul for being wimpy, crying like a love sick fool all the time. But, there was nothing to do about it. He was definitely young (20) with hopeless, romantic tendencies towards the woman of his dreams, Christine. And poor Christine was stuck in the middle of a sullen life, filled with mostly death and despair. Her light was music and her love was song. Raoul represented childhood memories, reminding her of a time of happiness while Erik inspired her to conjure the voice of a goddess. When she sang, she transcended people’s hearts into a blissful state. Her voice was a gift to bewitch and to behold. She was the treasure that both Raoul and Erik needed to possess. And so Gaston perilously balanced this love triangle throughout his story.


However, what’s so wonderful and memorable about this book is its tragic villain, Erik – The Phantom. His morose nature, vengeful spirit, passion for music, and love for Christine plus his deranged underground world are what make this book a classic.


I can’t tell you what happens because that would just be wrong. For starters, you could probably just go out and rent the movie but then you’d miss the genius of the story from its originator. No, you must read the tale on your own.


On the Mina Burrows KilloMeter, I give Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera a 4.


Until next time…read a Creepy Classic, would ya?


Mina B.

2 comments:

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