Thursday, July 16, 2015

Book Review: Phantom by Susan Kay


It's been a while. If we're going to be honest here, I've been crazy bogged down with school. It's online classes but holy shit there is a ton of reading and work and I haven't had time to read. Add that to an ever expanding obsession with KDramas and people that feed that obsession and I am just short on time for everything.

But I'm back! At least for now. And I have a book review!

Phantom by Susan Kay has been a favorite of mine for a really long time. I first got hooked on Phantom of the Opera stuff in high school. I watched the movie with Gerard Butler, I read the original novel by Gaston Leroux and I found this book. Then, in college among moving stuff from dorm to home and back again, I lost my copy of it! It's probably still floating around somewhere but I bought a new copy and I'm so thrilled that I was able to read it again.

Phantom really delves into the mind of the Phantom, Erik. He isn't just a mindless psychopath living in the basement, praying on young women. He has motivation. He has his arrogance. He is brilliant and so broken in this. Every aspect of his adolescence is so twisted, from his mother refusing to give him any warmth to his imprisonment in the gypsy camp to losing the one man who he could call a father figure. You begin to understand how he became the way that he did.

God, this book hit me so hard in the heart the first time I read it. It's so dark. It's so hopeless in many ways. You see someone suffering for how they look, despite their amazing mind and you wonder what would have happened if he had had love as a child instead of fear and scorn.
“I am not forsaken! I'm no longer alone in the darkness! Before my eyes I see a thousand little devils lighting black candles along the path which leads toward the edge...the blindingly beautiful edge.”
The secondary characters are remarkably well built as well. I hated his mother, Madeleine but you can understand her fear. In that time, Erik would have been seen as an abomination. There would be no place for him in society because of his image and you desperately hope that wouldn't be the case now. She was scared of this child that had so much intelligence but was hampered by her revulsion towards him. She was a young mother whose husband just died and she saw Erik as a curse. I can't imagine.

And then the Daroga. And the architect in Italy. Where he had once had hope and friendship, he managed to lose it all. I feel like throughout the book, up until he meets Christine, Erik strives to be a better person but his situation in life turns him into the sadistic person that he is.
“My mind has touched the farthest horizons of mortal imagination and reaches ever outward to embrace infinity. There is no knowledge beyond my comprehension, no art or skill upon this entire planet that lies beyond the mastery of my hand. And yet, like Faust, I look in vain, I learn in vain. . . . For as long as I live, no woman will ever look on me in love.”
My biggest fault with this book is the last ten to fifteen percent. The last little bit where he finally meets Christine and succumbs to the madness that he has been fighting for so long.
“She wanted an Angel of Music . . . an angel who would make her believe in herself at last. I'd been the Angel of Doom for the khanum. There was no reason in the world why I could not be the Angel of Music for Christine. I couldn't hope to be a man to her, I couldn't ever be a real, breathing, living man waking at her side and reaching out for her . . . But I could be her angel"

I hated Christine. She follows blindly and doesn't question anything. Lamb to the slaughter. And I'm not saying that she was supposed to be more worldly since she was only 20 and had hardly experienced any of the world but I wanted her to have more doubt than she did. Erik loved the idea of her more than anything else and she knew it. She couldn't make decisions on her own except on the occasions of threats against her or others. She ruined Erik's character for me since he had been so resolute and strong for most of the book but finally crumbles under an obsession.

But I guess that's the point of it all. He is supposed to lose it. Erik finally relinquishes control of his mind and basically damns himself. It's all so sad and terrible and that's why I love this book.

If you haven't read this book, you need to. It is such a beautiful supplement to the story that most are familiar with and it only enhances the musical and the original book. Seriously, go get it. Now. Do it. It's wonderful.

I promise I will get back to regular posting and reading other blogs. I've just been so busy it's ridiculous! Take pity on me and don't forget about me! I'm still around. I'm just lurking.

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