Rumours that a ghost stalks the dark passages and cellars of the Paris Opera House, wreaking havoc, have long been rife among staff and performers. This Phantom also haunts the imagination of the beautiful and talented singer Christine Daaé, appearing to her as the 'Angel of Music' - a disembodied voice, coaching her to sing as she never could before. When Christine is courted by a handsome young Viscount, the mysterious spectre, who resides in the murky depths of the building, is consumed by jealousy and seeks revenge.
With its pervading atmosphere of menace, tinged with dark humour, The Phantom of the Opera (1910) offers a unique mix of Gothic horror and tragic romance that has inspired film, stage and literature since its publication.
The inaugural release in the Horror Writers Association Haunted Library of Horror Classics series will be a revelation to those familiar only with the musical based on the 1910 novel by LeRoux (1868 1927). The tale of a Paris opera house inhabited by a spectral figure with seemingly magical abilities remains genuinely creepy today. Much of the book's power stems from the author's presentation of his narrative as the factual product of his own diligent archival research and interviews with survivors of the phenomenon. This understated treatment means that even his spoiler-laden prologue heightens rather than lessens suspense. A turnover in the management of the opera house coincides with sightings of the so-called Opera ghost and the grim discovery of the hanged corpse of Joseph Buquet, the company's chief scene-shifter. These events are followed by an unexpectedly triumphant performance by Christine Dae , who previously had an undistinguished singing career, which proves to be linked to the phantom. Fans of literate horror, whatever their opinion of Andrew Lloyd Weber, will be gratified.