The Phantom of the Opera Review

  • Author: Gaston Leroux
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Classic
  • No. of pages: 336
  • Dates read: 31.08.2022 – 03.09.2022
  • Star Rating: 2.5 stars

Plot: First published in French as a serial in 1909, “The Phantom of the Opera” is a riveting story that revolves around the young, Swedish Christine Daaé. Her father, a famous musician, dies, and she is raised in the Paris Opera House with his dying promise of a protective angel of music to guide her. After a time at the opera house, she begins hearing a voice, who eventually teaches her how to sing beautifully. All goes well until Christine’s childhood friend Raoul comes to visit his parents, who are patrons of the opera, and he sees Christine when she begins successfully singing on the stage. The voice, who is the deformed, murderous ‘ghost’ of the opera house named Erik, however, grows violent in his terrible jealousy, until Christine suddenly disappears. The phantom is in love, but it can only spell disaster. 

So, my knowledge of the story is through the musical. When I was younger I was part of the ensemble in a small adaptation of the musical in my home town. So, it was through this experience that I learnt the story. Going into the actual text, I expected some differences but overall an interesting look at the dynamic between Raoul, the Phantom and Christine. But I didn’t get that.

The most talked about part of the story is the relationships that Christine has with the two men. One of the biggest questions was “Did Christine love the phantom?”. I was excited to see what the original text said and how it was represented.

What the original text said – was that the only important part of the story was actually the managers not Christine. We ended up spending more time with the managers of the opera as they try to get out of sending the Phantom’s monthly fee than the whole Phantom and Christine dynamic. That was my main takeaway.

I personally felt that Leroux spent too much time on the more boring aspects of the story and then when it got to the more interesting content he either shoved it all into one long chapter or barely went into any detail at all. I was hoping we would have had a more consise story about the Phantom as a person and how the events came to transpire. The first half was the managers arguing and Raoul running around after Christine and not really communicating. We then get a 2 chapter info dump of Christine’s time with the Phantom which was by far the most interesting part of the novel. Then another round of arguing, especially Christine and Raoul which got exasperating to read, then 4 chapters of Raoul making his way to through the underground part of the Opera after Christine is taken by the Phantom, this became repetitive, followed by the most underwhelming ending I have ever read.

I guess for me, I was interested more in specific elements of the story while Leroux wanted to expand on the whole Opera etc. While he wanted to talk about the managers and Madame Giry etc. I wanted more Christine and Phantom stuff. And the thing that made this book the hardest to get through was the characters. For me, all of the characters were annoying. Christine is the only character that I let slide with her motivations and actions as she was in a very complicated and manipulative situation with the Phantom. So, her lack of communication and flighty actions were understandable with the context. Raoul and everyone else on the other hand… annoying and infuriating. I was so frustrated reading this book.

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