Friday, March 11, 2016

Book Review: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux




Let's talk about Phantom. Not the musical, although the musical is like crack. The book. It's crazy. The book is absolutely crazy.

There's an opera house in Paris. A lot of people like the opera house. It comes under new management; they are given a book of rules to appease the opera ghost.

There are two brothers, but we're mainly concerned about Raoul. Bless his heart, the poor boy doesn't have two little grey cells to rub together, but he tries. He's madly in love with Christine, a girl he knew as a child, and who is a singer at the opera house. When the diva of the house unexpectedly becomes sick, Christine takes her place and wows everyone with her voice. Raoul is even more infatuated, and tries to see her in her dressing room. She shoos him out, and when he hears a man's voice in there, waits until she's gone and goes in to look around, because that's not creepy.

Christine, see, has been trained by a voice (or VOICE as the Project Gutenberg translation puts it) to sing well. She thinks said voice is the Angel of Music sent by her dead dad. Because Daddy Issues.) Raoul's one brain cell tells him that the mysterious voice is also the mysterious Phantom. No one believes him, because reasons.

Raoul behaves erratically, and Christine finds this endearing, so she agrees to marry him. She then reveals that she was kidnapped by the Phantom. Creepy lair, insane musical genius, not much to look at though. He's also behaving erratically because of Christine. The night she and Raoul plan to elope, the Phantom kidnaps her and makes plans for them to marry and go, like, shopping together and stuff.

Look, the story itself has been very complicated up to this point, because we have a lot of confusing flipping back and forth through the story, and Christine ain't saying nothin', and Raoul, as I said, is kind of an idiot.

Then we get to the rescue. This is where Gaston Leroux was basically "I GOTTA FIND A WAY TO MAKE THIS STORY LAST, I'M GETTING PAID BY THE WORD HERE". There's this Persian guy, right? No, not Madame Giry, she's just a dotty old lady. See, Erik was this horribly deformed person. No, not Gerard Butler with a third degree sunburn. Think Tyrion from the Game of Thrones books deformed. He was a genius. He was also a little crazy, since at some point he was teaching a sultana how to torture her servants. He's made himself a nice little lair with all these little inventions, including a torture room that apparently makes you think you're in the desert? I guess you wouldn't think that until you'd been in there a while. It takes Raoul about, oh, five minutes to lose it. Bless.

While the authorities do exactly nothing despite evidence that there is probably a creeper in the opera house, the Persian and Raoul shout Christine's name a lot, Erik is crazy and not Gerard Butler, and also he plans on blowing up the opera house and a good chunk of the surrounding area.

This is Andrew Loyd Webber's romantic anti-hero. But, I mean, he's still better than Christian Grey, AMIRITE.

But Christine conquers with the power of love, and she and Raoul flee into the night, while the Phantom makes plans to die, because apparently he was running out of prank ideas, or something.

Look, I know I made the book sound ridiculous, and it is, it's very ridiculous. Raoul is an idiot, Erik is crazy, everyone else is incompetent, and Christine, the only smart person in the book, has Daddy Issues (I refuse to stop making Cleolinda references). I started questioning Leroux' sanity after a while. But it was fun, and it was a good addition to Gothic fiction.

And it gave us some really great songs, so we can all be thankful.

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