Nocturne and A Quick Death are two books suitable for YA readers by indie authors I’ve been following for a long time, namely Cheryl Mahoney and Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine. I didn’t read them just because of the Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge, but they fulfilled letters I’d noted them for, all the same.
9th October 1986 Phantom of the Opera opened in London. At that time, everyone watched television. There were few channels outside BBC and the two main commercial stations, ITV and Channel 4. I don’t think Sky existed, although maybe as a news channel if you had a satellite dish, and this was rare then. And television loved this new musical. I loved this new musical. I had to see it. And I have video clips of it from the many, many TV shows singing its praises. (I kept them when I moved.) And when I finally saw it I had to see it again.
By the late 90s I’d seen it over fifty times, and I was just an amateur. I knew people who had seen it over 200 times even then. But I’d also read the book by Gaston Leroux, and seen the show in many cities. Did I ever buy the teeshirt? I did have many, many programmes (including Playbills), and I’m probably ready to part with them if I’m offered enough.
Cheryl Mahoney must have seen the show many times, but she went a lot further than me, re-imagining the story, taking Gaston Leroux’s Erik and putting him into another fascinating variation. I followed her progress on this labour of love. Her research and attention to detail, which has been going on for many years, until finally, Nocturne has arrived.
Nocturne (The Guardian of the Opera #1)
by Cheryl Mahoney
Set against the backdrop of 1880s Paris and the stunning Opera Garnier, The Guardian of the Opera: Nocturne brings you the familiar tale from a different direction. Meg Giry met the Phantom once when she was twelve years old, a new ballet dancer lost in the Opera’s maze. Years later, when an Angel of Music offers singing lessons to her best friend Christine Daaé, Meg is sure she knows what’s actually happening. But as strange events unfold and the pieces stop adding up, Meg has to wonder if she truly understands the Phantom—or Christine.
Erik is a man of many talents and many masks, and the one covering his face may be the least concealing. The opera house is his kingdom and his refuge, where he stalks through the shadows as the Phantom of the Opera, watching over all that occurs. He never intended to fall in love; when he does, it launches him into a new symphony he’s certain can only end in heartbreak. (goodreads)
There can be few people that do not know Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom story. If you’ve read the original Gaston Leroux, you will be prepared for a more in-depth approach to the opera ghost. I enjoyed the focus on Meg Giry, the ballet dancer, and found her background beautifully rich in the development, along with that of her mother. Her obsession with the phantom has more basis than her fellow performers. She thinks she met him when she was very young, and he helped her find her way back when she got lost in the massive opera house. So she’s very protective of him, and that colours all the rest of the plot, from the way she is treated by the cast, to the friendship with Christine Daae.
I love the way the author leaves several things in doubt that might have been canon in another telling. Her descriptive powers are given full rein in the lavish spectacle of the opera house. The tensions between characters, let alone the terrors of the ghost, are well developed and sensitively handled. I’d almost forgotten some key events of other accounts as I was swept up in the new love affairs, or are they obsessions? She also gets the period right, and the relationship between Raoul and his elder brother rings true.
All in all, however much you want to stick to ‘your’ version of the phantom story, I recommend you read this one. It’s a keeper.
A Quick Death …
A Quick Death has none of the provenance of Nocturne. This was a new novella-length book of short stories–or are they the same story? –in April, and I apologise for not getting the review out until now.
A Quick Death
by Patricia Josephine/Patricia Lynne
These things fascinate our imagination. Delve into a collection of tales that explore death and murder. Each story is told in exactly 200 words and designed to give you a quick thrill no matter how busy your day is. [goodreads]
I’ve tagged this ‘crime, horror, suspense, vampires’. It’s all of those, in short (very short) story format, and it’s a good read. Sometimes the stories appear to be linked, but I think that was my imagination playing tricks. It goes from crime with a horror twist to vampires, with plenty of suspense along the way. A quick read, and an enjoyable one. Patricia writes well, and is always full of imaginative turns!