About the Book
Published by Harry N. Abrams on January 10, 2017
Neither the publisher nor the author requested this review.
In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.
At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.
Fun Fact: I am a HUUUUUUUUGE Phantom of the Opera fan. I have read the book. I've seen the different versions. I fall deeper and deeper in love with Erik's tortured soul each time.
I am also a huge fan of re-told tales.
When I found out that there was going to be a POTO re-telling, I almost died from happiness. There were literal tears and I squeaked like a flipping chipmunk. I am truly ecstatic to review it for you.
What I Liked
- Thorn. What a well-written character! I loved that he was such a deep thinking individual who truly remained loyal to the people he cared for. Not only was he a tortured soul in childhood, he must make several decisions throughout the novel that test this loyalty. It cannot be easy to be Thorn, let alone to write a character as complicated as he is. I loved that Howard chose to create a second phantom figure. I felt like this was a very powerful move because it allowed the possibility of the original story to go full circle.
- The tone of this piece is spooky yet mystifying. I became truly engrossed in the plot and wondered what would happen next at every turn. Although this is something I hope for in every book, I felt that Howard did especially well when creating tone.
- Talk about twists and turns! Right when I thought that I knew what was going to happen, I was completely surprised. Right when I thought my favorite character died (yes, I cried and cursed Howard's name) I found out what had really happened to him. I enjoyed the roller coaster plot of this novel.
- The ending was beautiful. I know that many other people have thought it was a bit cheesy, but after some of the grim points of this book, it needed some cheese.
What I Didn't Like As Much
- I'm sure that some of this was done to keep the mystery going, but this book severely lacked world-building. It seemed like the world it was in had absolutely no rules. This may seem freeing, but resulted in severely downplayed drama. I wish Howard had been just a little darker in this piece.
- There was so much info dumping that I got lost. I found myself re-reading several parts to figure out what exactly had happened. It would have been a HUGE improvement for Howard to slowly add the pieces instead of trying to create and explain a world that simply could not be contained in a 432 page book.
- I am glad that Howard was willing to take risks. Some of the decisions that she made in this piece weren't quite what I (or any other reviewer) expected. However, I'm not sure that these were all good decisions. I love a good fantasy piece, but there was so much going on in this novel that there was no way that it could be cleanly written. It started to feel like she was pouring paint, or plot, on the page and hoping that something would stick and make a pretty picture.
Overall, I thought that this was an entertaining book that I will read again at some point. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations.