I dare you not to hum the theme from the musical–go ahead, try not to!
by Lesa Howard
Publication date: March 1st 2014
Christine Dadey’s family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. Now, two years later, Christine struggles to compete among the Academy’s finest dancers, her parents are on the brink of divorce, and she’s told no one about her debilitating performance anxiety and what she’s willing to do to cope with it.
Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world’s stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik’s face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he’s lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine.
Drawn in by Erik’s unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik’s declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be. But Christine’s hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik’s shadowy past jeopardizes Christine’s unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.
I really enjoyed this modern YA Phantom of the Opera retelling! Ms. Howard did a great job of bringing the story into present-day Houston, setting it at a prestigious ballet school and utilizing current technology to help the story along. (Erik especially uses it to his benefit. Chillingly so…I get the shivers even now, thinking about it.)
Christine is a likable heroine. She’s sweet and earnest and very naive, much like the character she is patterned after. The pressures she’s under–going to an exclusive school, needing to progress in ballet and do so soon, taking high school courses via the computer at night, having family drama going on in the background yet still wanting to have a “normal” teenage life on top of it all–makes her willingness to get help from a somewhat questionable source (a guy hiding behind a curtain and later a mask? You know that can’t be a good idea!) believable.
Raoul’s not in the book nearly enough, but I love that he’s a quarterback on his high school football team. He’s a stellar hero, even though his page time is brief.
Erik is everything that a modern Phantom should be. Watching him slowly ingratiate himself into Christine’s life is very, very creepy. When she–and the reader–realize just what he’s done, it’s every bit as dramatic and scary a scene as you could want.
The chapters are very short, and the story moves along quickly–which was good, because I didn’t want to stop reading once I got started!
I totally found myself humming the musical soundtrack like a lunatic the entire time I read Phantom’s Dance. Please tell me it wasn’t just me? I absolutely need to dig out my old CDs. That will get the unending loop of “the Phantom of the Opera is there, inside your mind…” out of my head, right? Right??
(It’s not totally my fault–at one point, a secondary character even alludes to their school having “its own Phantom of the Opera” in their theater–right in front of Christine. Her BFF Jenna even responded with a “Whoa, wait a minute there, Andrew Llyod Webber. There is no ghost”–yet none of them realized at any point in the novel that Christine, Raoul, and Erik are also the names of the main characters of the classic novel and musical. It would have saved Christine a lot of heartbreak and grief if she’d figured that out–but then there wouldn’t have been a story, so… ;))
Whether you’re a fan of the original (or the musical) or not, if you like creepily suspenseful YA, this book is a must read!
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
I’m not the typical author. I didn’t always enjoy reading or writing. While in school, I found it to be a chore I’d just as soon skip. I would rather have been daydreaming, my favorite past time. It wasn’t until I grew up and didn’t have to, that I realized reading was fun. I soon discovered that reading fueled my daydreaming. So, remembering a short story I’d written in high school, I began imagining expanding that story into a book. Before long I found I had loads of ideas for not just the short story but other books and stories as well. Fast forward a few years, a lot of studying about writing, practicing my writing, studying some more, taking classes from people who knew what they were doing, studying and practicing yet more, and ta-dah, author! In the same way I had learned I loved reading, I learned I loved writing, too. It’s just that writing is a lot harder than reading.