I can certainly see why this became a very popular musical – it’s a terrific gothic novel, the story of young, innocent and beautiful Christine who is enchanted by an ‘Angel of Music’ who teaches her to sing in a way that outshines the greatest diva of the Paris Opera. But there is a cost – she must love the masked spectre with the alluring voice and vast body of knowledge who roams the Opera with ghost-like magic.
Unlike the musical, the Phantom is somewhat less romantic (leading to more of the gothic terror than the romantic confusion we are all familiar with). He really does have a very dark past and is more than capable of murder most horrid – as he possesses a sharp mind for traps and torture which has been well utilized in the past. There are places in which you feel sympathy for him, but nothing like the more modern version.
Still, this is a very engaging novel and I wonder why more people don’t read it.
The musical reflects all of the first half, and little of the second (I think, its been a while!) where we find out more of the Phantom’s dark past.