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The Phantom of the Opera (Penguin Classics)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Nowadays there probably is no one in this country who hasn't heard of the 'Phantom', but really it is only because Hollywood has produced this so many times, and then the musical became so popular that it is easy to get hold of a copy. Originally serialised before being published in book form this tale never really gained that much attention and has been out of print a number of times in the twentieth century.

What may put people off is the way it is written, some of it seems to read like a history of the opera house and some of it like newspaper reportage, as well as the actual story. When a new young singer starts at the opera house she comes to the attention of the phantom, a legendary figure that supposedly haunts the building. With the increase of the phantom's obsessive fixation and love for our heroine it is not long before death and disaster strike, ultimately leading to the abduction of the heroine and the subsequent search for her and the phantom.

This is quite a quick read and it definitely pulls you in and you find yourself soon rushing through it to the ultimate climax. Once read this is a tale that will long linger in your imagination and you will come to see and appreciate why it has slowly grown a large readership. Although the mixed type of narrative that makes up the story may seem perhaps a bit weird at first you will soon come to feel that it is a true story the way it reads.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2012
Forget the musicals and modern use of the basic tale. this is the REAL Phantom as it was. Worth a good read.
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on 20 November 2014
The book is a nice size with well-sized print, and I love the gothic cover! Came in a library book cover which I didn't like at first but has since proved to be useful. Brilliant book so far; as a fan of the musical I'm really enjoying it!

(Would have given 5 stars only for the tears on the spine of the book where the author's name would be...but it does give my copy some extra character!)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2010
Saw the film and was interested to read the original text. Was a real page turner. Absolutely love it. thanks!
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on 2 July 2015
A great edition with great fonts and a good cover. The best edition, in my opinion.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2013
Well I'm a huge fan of phantom of the opera the movie and the on stage musical...but I've got to say the book was a huge let down! It's mainly from raouls (i can't spell his name) perspective..I don't even like him. He sucks as a character because all he does is cry about Christine ignoring him! I know it's a classic and all but it's seriously boring, Christine kinda sucks and you never really hear from the phantoms perspective. A big waste of time really!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2014
:-) love it and know the phantom of the opera my heart from DVD, theater in London and Denmark, music and the story in danish and in english.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 May 2013
having recently been to see the stage show i felt i need to read the original to see were the inspiration came from
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 March 2013
I chose this book because I wanted to know the true story of the Phantom after seeing the musical of the same name.
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