The Phantom of the Opera Book Review

Original French cover of the Phantom book

Original French cover of the Phantom book

Cecily Hardie, Writer

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Did you know that the famous musical and movie ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ was first a book? French author Gaston Leroux wrote the book in 1910, and it wasn’t written for the stage or performed until the 1980’s. All of the characters from the movie are inside—Christine, Raul, Carlotta, Madame Giry, and, of course, the Phantom—with a few extras that could, obviously, be written out for the film to make it less confusing for the audience.

Leroux wrote the book around a real opera house. The chandelier crash was an actual event that occurred there. Though there was no actual evidence that the Phantom really existed Leroux insisted, even to his deathbed, that he did. Whether he existed or not, the Phantom’s haunting story is written in full detail within the novel.

The entire book is written from Leroux’s point of view. He cites sources that may or may not have existed, quoting ‘real’ people and their ‘real’ journals and letters. Because it was written so long ago and translated from French to English, the book can be a little difficult to understand and a little confounding at times, but if you have ever wondered about the Phantom’s backstory (which is missing from the 2004 movie), the mystery will carry you through.

The book adds many details that aren’t in the movie. For example, the movie insinuates that Christine is in love with the Phantom, who is her father and the angel of music. The novel states that Christine’s father promised her before he died that he would send the angel of music to her when he reached heaven, which is much less gross and creepy. This is in addition to the explanation of the Phantom’s rich backstory and more description of his character, motivations, and the reason why everyone is so afraid of him.

I personally prefer the novel to the movie because the Phantom seems like less of a stranger there (he even has a name!) and I would recommend it to anyone who has watched the movie and felt like there was something missing. If you enjoy the Phantom novel, you may also like ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker, which is in a similar format, and just as dark. Happy reading!