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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving book!
Love, hate, horror, the Phantom of the Opera has all this, making it one of the most captivating books ever. The book by the detective writer Gaston LeRoux tells the tale of Paris Opera house and its resident phantom. The book conceived by the author after a thorough investigation brings a believable portrayal of the events that had occurred at the time. Its basis on...
Published on 7 Mar 2004 by Z

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Christopher Lee rocks but the book is shortened
Christopher Lee reads the book wonderfully but the book is shortened. Whole chapters are missing which should be informed when marketing. (And not the best translation either.) Pleasent to listen and I recommend it to any Christopher Lee fan or any Phantom of the Opera fan who's ok with a half of a Phantom.
Published on 20 Dec 2009 by OG


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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving book!, 7 Mar 2004
Love, hate, horror, the Phantom of the Opera has all this, making it one of the most captivating books ever. The book by the detective writer Gaston LeRoux tells the tale of Paris Opera house and its resident phantom. The book conceived by the author after a thorough investigation brings a believable portrayal of the events that had occurred at the time. Its basis on realistic facts makes it all the more believable.
The plot surrounds several characters that work at an opera house. The opera, well renowned for its plays also holds a deeper secret. When the new managers receive threats from a mysterious ghost, leaving letters initialled “O.G.”, a series of events are triggered that cause chaos in the opera house. Although this is how the book is introduced, its tone changes later in the book, focussing on the personality of the opera ghost. A story of love and sadness is revealed, piece-by-piece. The ending is startling leaving an air of melancholy in the reader’s heart.
The book was set in the late 19th century, recently after the opera house was constructed. The author himself was a great fan of the opera, and frequented it quite often. After hearing tales of the famous opera ghost, the author explored the opera house behind the scenes and discovered a vast maze of tunnels. In fact the opera house is a combination of a theatre and a dungeon. This creates an atmosphere of mystery, because then, anything could hide in the vast maze of the opera house.
The author handles the story very well. This could do with the fact that many parts of the book are actually based on fact-based testimonies. However the way the author connected the stories to make a smooth narrative is to be praised.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please, read this book., 18 Oct 2005
By 
Rachel (Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Depending on who you listen to this is either a masterpiece, or a shaky story which has since been improved through adaptations to film and stage. My opinion is the former. I had no trouble at all reading this book, in fact I had real trouble putting it down. For a phantom phan this is essential reading as the basis for all subsequent versions of the tale, and a very good read in itself. Those who know more recent versions of the story should not expect this to be exactly the same; in fact all the characters come across very differently, creating a very different overall storyline regarding the characters.
The writer, Leroux, spent much of his writing career as a journalist, and 'The Phantom of the Opera' is written in a style which suggests a real investigation and interview of the characters by the author (hence the continually resurfacing hope of phans that the Phantom truly existed). This style works exceedingly well, in my opinion, as it leaves plenty of mysteries for the reader to consider, reflecting the nature of the story. Debates about certain points and occurrences continue to this day!
This book truly is a must read, and as copies can be found cheaply most anywhere, you have no excuse for not reading it!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pick it up... you won't be able to put it down!, 25 April 1999
By A Customer
This must be the best book I've read in a while. Once I started it, I was cut off from this world. The plot is simple yet really entertaining. It doesn't state too many extra details and doesn't tell a few different stories at once like many other books. I am a person who often needs to reread some sentences again and again before I get them, but this one went almost completely smoothly. It must be considered a classic. Once I started reading it I was so enthralled that I felt like all the characters at one point in the book. It's kinda spooky, but not as much as many other books, just enough to make you continue reading. Please excuse the spelling, it is very late at night.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No one sees the angel, 25 Mar 2008
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The mask, the music, the dark mysteries, and the tortured, deformed genius who just wants love. "The Phantom of the Opera" is so well known that its story needs no explanation.

But Gaston Leroux's novel is still a spellbinding experience, full of atmospheric horror, a sense of gothic mystery, and lushly evocative language. But its crown jewel is Erik: a magnificently tortured anti-hero who inspires more horror, pity and sympathy than the rather flat hero and heroine.

The Paris opera house is said to be haunted by a ghost with a "death's head," who demands a small salary and a reserved box. Despite the sightings and fears of ballerinas and stagehands, the new managers are determined to stamp out this ridiculous story -- despite threatening letters and increasing accidents that happen around them.

Meanwhile, budding diva Christine Daae is taking Paris by storm, although nobody quite knows who taught her how to sing. And when her childhood friend Viscount Raoul de Chagny pays her a visit, he hears a passionate exchange between her and a man -- but there's no man there. She credits her new vocal abilities to the Angel of Music, but of course, that self-same Angel is the opera ghost.

As the Phantom becomes even more attached to Christine, Raoul soon finds that the ghost is actually a half-mad, horribly deformed musical genius named Erik -- and that after Christine saw his true face, he made her become engaged to him. The young lovers plan to run away together, but the "Angel of Music" isn't about to allow his beloved Christine to leave him...

Apparently there actually were some odd events -- including rumours of an opera ghost -- happening when Gaston Leroux began writing "The Phantom of the Opera." And it's a credit to his imgination that he was able to spin a some odd facts into a harrowing, heartbreaking love triangle that's based on music, obsession, adoration, and a bit of pity. And, of course, a frighteningly sympathetic "villain."

Admittedly the style is very "penny dreadful": melodramatic and overloaded on prose. But Leroux's talent shines through -- he drapes the book in a haunted atmosphere, full of snowy graveyards, dark opera backstages and underground labyrinths, all with Erik's presence hovering over it. The plot is mostly a slow, satiny procession toward the inevitable blowup, but Leroux does tinge it with scenes of romantic drama, a feeling of dread, one shocking action scene, and even some quirky humour at times.

And Leroux's writing is simply astounding as he describes the corpselike appearance of Erik ("... tore his terrible dead flesh with my nails") and his "death's" head appearance at the party. But he also excels at the more poignant moments -- Erik's final, rambling monologue to Christine after she kisses him is heartbreakingly clumsy and saddening.

Though Christine and Raoul are the hero and heroine of the book, they're actually kind of flat. Erik is the real star -- an arrogant genius who is also pitifully lonely. And insane. Despite his crazed behavior -- which results in at least two deaths -- it's hard not to feel sympathy for someone cursed with such a ghastly appearance, and so starved for human contact that a single kiss changes his life ("... he tried to catch my eye, like a dog sitting by its master").

Despite being a bit overblown in the style of its time, "The Phantom of the Opera" is a triumph of atmosphere, horror, and one of the most memorably sympathetic "villains" that you can find on the shelves. Magnificent.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phantom review, 13 Feb 2006
After seeing the stage show and the motion picture film, I was very intrigued to what the original book was like. I loved it and could not put the book down. I found it to be quite different from the stage/film version. The main characters were different, especially the phantom, where in the book his face is completely deformed, unlike the musical where it is only part ugly. The book phantom was also more twisted with his artistic abilities, (like the building of the torture chamber), than the film, so I felt less sorry for him in the end, where as in the musical I felt quite sad that he was left all alone. The writing however, is absolutely great, definitely a must read.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poor Unhappy Erik!, 20 Jan 2003
By 
Nicola Jarvis (Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This is the most compelling book ever written, I assure you. This is a masterpiece and a classic in my eyes; and yours if you take the time to read this 'story.' I was left pondering after reading Harry Potter. What book could ever come close? 'The Phantom Of The Opera' ladies and gentlemen. Not close but better. However you came about looking up this novel here on Amazon, I suggest you buy it, and you buy it quick. Once you have it, you won't be able to put it down.
Reading through this story, one can start to think its a 'Ghost-story.' But the author, as it turns out, dedicated a part of his life to this 'Opera-Ghost,' wanting to be sure of his existence - or non-existence. He has sources, archives, spoken to the people of the time and he tells their story, and he tells it well! When I was reading this story, the possibility of this 'Phantom' of ever existing was totally ruled out in my book. What was this author thinking in seriously believing? How can one be in walls, have a bodiless voice, be here and there, be everywhere? Truth be told, the author has convinced me of his existence, that the Phantoms 'supernatural' behaviour wasn't so 'supernatural,' just a genius ahead of his time. And what a pitiful genius he was! This is one book that keeps you thinking long after you have read it.
If you know of Andrew Lloyd Webbers version, you will be impressed to learn that the book and the musical are very much different. Raoul in the musical seems brave and wise, in the book he strikes me as a pathetic love-sick puppy. A character which has no part in the musical has a dramatic effect on the real story; the Persian. Christine who seems to be a mad woman at the beginning turns into the pity stricken beauty towards the end as she is in the musical. Andre and Fermin are not so comical in the book as they are in the musical. The story is twisted and turned. So just because you have seen the musical, does not mean you know the story of the Phantom of the Opera!
This book is a very smooth, easy read, being written in the early nineteen-hundreds. Its possible to get mixed up with names, but the characters that you do get mixed up with are extremely unimportant to the plot, so it doesn't really matter. The narrative keeps you reading and you will curse whatever it is from every day life that pulls you away from it.
The character of the Phantom will stay with you forever, but also they're are two mysteries which I just can't figure out. According to the Persian there was someone in a cloak that brushed past himself and Raoul when down in the cellars. The author never comes to explain who this person is, as the Persian who told him about this, asked him not to. Also, there is a 'rat-catcher.' Fair enough. But it seems that his head is on fire and he has no body. The phantom's supernatural actions has been explained as physically possible...but this 'rat-catcher'?
Compelling stuff. I can't recommend this masterpiece enough.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Down in the bowels of the Paris Opera House..., 13 Dec 2006
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Being a fan of the musical I decided to read the origial novel some years ago.

I have read this book a few times, it is mesmirising. The original concept of the Phantom wasn't of a character of horror - much a tragic character who ultimately wants to be loved. The final chapter cetainly shows the fragility of the man who has become a legend.

The book is very moving and despite the terrible acts the Phantom engages in, you can't help but love the man and at the end of the book you really feel for him.

Erik (the Phantom) is both powerful and pathetic, strong, yet vulnerable. The book is written as a detective novel which gives the story a feeling of reality. The descriptions of the amazing Paris Opera House make the building feel almost like a character itself, and rightly so.

A classic book that deserves your attention.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phantom-y goodness, 9 May 2009
Andrew Lloyd Webber has gone on record as saying that the original novel, by lawyer-turned-reporter-turned novelist Gaston Leroux, is pretty amateur stuff. I think this is often a misconception that people have, probably because the book fits into several genres. However, director and adapter Barnaby Edwards has seized on the book's strengths and almost uniformly used them to structure his audio adaptation. With so many film (and musical and play) adaptations, different directors have used different approaches in order to pick and choose what elements of the original they want to use. Edwards is very true to the original book, but not slavishly so. It is, of course, a story that's very suited for audio, with its many musical references and its phantasmagorical scenery, much better pictured in the imagination than on stage or screen (usually).

One of the funnest things about the book is that it's structured in a very leading way, which draws you in immediately to the mystery. Part one ends with a great cliffhanger set in the Perros graveyard, where the Phantom plays "The Resurrection of Lazarus" waltz for a perturbed Christine and Raoul. It might be a good time to mention the music, arranged and composed by Tim Sutton (based around the score of Faust and a few other pieces specifically mentioned in the book). Overall I found the score very satisfying.

Casting James D'Arcy as Raoul was an inspired choice. D'Arcy highlights Raoul's jealousy and sheer frustration at Christine's unfathomable behavior, which is a darker aspect to his character often overlooked. He also has all the heroic attributes you come to expect from the dashing young nobleman. Peter Guinness is an interesting and very capable choice as the titular character. Though Meg describes the ghost's voice as "soft and gentle," it's very difficult to achieve the super-human quality of Erik in the book with real people. Clearly Guinness' voice is distinctive and serves for the more wraith-like qualities Erik must possess, and Matthew Hargreave, who serves as Erik's singing voice, creates a rich, operatic tone. What does impress me, however, is the inclusion of the Persian, who is almost always absent from adaptations, and played by Alexander Siddig, no less! I love the way Madame Giry looks up Erik's name for the Persian, Daroga, in the dictionary--"he was a copper!" I can't think of a single adaptation other than the silent film that approaches the Torture Chamber in more than an homage, and I was really excited (I am morbid!) in seeing how it would be handled on audio. The actor who really shines in this, though, is Helen Goldwyn as Christine.

Phantom of the Opera is an ideal play for adapting for audio, though I do hope Big Finish will consider adapting some others. For new fans, I suggest listening to the story if you are hesitant about the book. Longtime phans will find much to love about this adaptation as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The angel of music, 5 Aug 2008
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The mask, the music, the dark mysteries, and the tortured, deformed genius who just wants love. "The Phantom of the Opera" is so well known that its story needs no explanation.

But Gaston Leroux's novel is still a spellbinding experience, full of atmospheric horror, a sense of gothic mystery, and lushly evocative language. But its crown jewel is Erik: a magnificently tortured anti-hero who inspires more horror, pity and sympathy than the rather flat hero and heroine.

The Paris opera house is said to be haunted by a ghost with a "death's head," who demands a small salary and a reserved box. Despite the sightings and fears of ballerinas and stagehands, the new managers are determined to stamp out this ridiculous story -- despite threatening letters and increasing accidents that happen around them.

Meanwhile, budding diva Christine Daae is taking Paris by storm, although nobody quite knows who taught her how to sing. And when her childhood friend Viscount Raoul de Chagny pays her a visit, he hears a passionate exchange between her and a man -- but there's no man there. She credits her new vocal abilities to the Angel of Music, but of course, that self-same Angel is the opera ghost.

As the Phantom becomes even more attached to Christine, Raoul soon finds that the ghost is actually a half-mad, horribly deformed musical genius named Erik -- and that after Christine saw his true face, he made her become engaged to him. The young lovers plan to run away together, but the "Angel of Music" isn't about to allow his beloved Christine to leave him...

Apparently there actually were some odd events -- including rumours of an opera ghost -- happening when Gaston Leroux began writing "The Phantom of the Opera." And it's a credit to his imgination that he was able to spin a some odd facts into a harrowing, heartbreaking love triangle that's based on music, obsession, adoration, and a bit of pity. And, of course, a frighteningly sympathetic "villain."

Admittedly the style is very "penny dreadful": melodramatic and overloaded on prose. But Leroux's talent shines through -- he drapes the book in a haunted atmosphere, full of snowy graveyards, dark opera backstages and underground labyrinths, all with Erik's presence hovering over it. The plot is mostly a slow, satiny procession toward the inevitable blowup, but Leroux does tinge it with scenes of romantic drama, a feeling of dread, one shocking action scene, and even some quirky humour at times.

And Leroux's writing is simply astounding as he describes the corpselike appearance of Erik ("... tore his terrible dead flesh with my nails") and his "death's" head appearance at the party. But he also excels at the more poignant moments -- Erik's final, rambling monologue to Christine after she kisses him is heartbreakingly clumsy and saddening.

Though Christine and Raoul are the hero and heroine of the book, they're actually kind of flat. Erik is the real star -- an arrogant genius who is also pitifully lonely. And insane. Despite his crazed behavior -- which results in at least two deaths -- it's hard not to feel sympathy for someone cursed with such a ghastly appearance, and so starved for human contact that a single kiss changes his life ("... he tried to catch my eye, like a dog sitting by its master").

Despite being a bit overblown in the style of its time, "The Phantom of the Opera" is a triumph of atmosphere, horror, and one of the most memorably sympathetic "villains" that you can find on the shelves. Magnificent.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 7 July 2008
Mystery, murder and music in a pitch-perfect adaptation of a great work of literature - with brand new opera sequences worked in, too!

I'm a huge fan of the original novel and have been disappointed by nearly every adaptation to date - except this one! Edwards has a clear understanding of just what makes the novel such a page-turner. His script is witty, thrilling and fast-paced: the four episodes just fly by. The music, too, is beautiful - I wish there was a soundtrack album! The cast are amazing, too: Anna Massey is brilliant as Madame Giry; Peter Guinness has a voice to die for as The Phantom; James D'Arcy is the best Raoul I've come across; and the other dozen stars are equally brilliant. The operatic arias mentioned in the original novel have been recorded specially for this adaptation and worked in seamlessly. Honestly, this is a real treat. I've already bought another three copies for relatives and friends. This is a truly wonderful production.
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