Author: AG Howard
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Retelling
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release: January 10, 2017
In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.
At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy for a honest review.
I really wanted to like this book. I really, really wanted to like it because The Phantom of the Opera is my favorite and when I saw this was a modern twist/retelling I couldn’t be more excited (regardless of the fact that I didn’t like Howard’s first trilogy). I was hoping this would be some improvement However, this was just a repeat of disappointment.
First of all, the first half of the book dragged on. And on and on. I was falling asleep while reading this and kept having to force myself to pick it back up to read. If I have to do this, I immediately need to DNF but I decided to at least make it to the 50% mark. However, I am still confused with where the plot was going because it just seemed so lackluster. This book had every YA Paranormal trope that we have all seemed many times before.
Rune moves to a new school where she is obviously the “special one” that is going to solve everyone’s problems. She falls for a mysterious handsome guy who keeps disappearing but seems to be the guy in her dreams. Rune has a special ability and hopes that her mysterious hot guy will help her control her ability so she can “finally be normal.” She becomes friends with a group of students, all forgettable. She makes enemies with the school’s rich and popular mean girl (because of course) and her best friend, who are literally called the “diva duo.”
Regardless of all these familiar tropes, I thought I would be entertained for the simple fact that this included The Phantom and even brought some examples and pieces from the original story. But, it just didn’t measure up. The writing and setting was dark and I can see why many would find this appealing, but it didn’t work for me personally. I couldn’t connect to the characters or the storylines. The only one I felt a smidge of empathy for was Thorn when his childhood was revealed. Other than that, everything felt so bland.
So it gives me great sadness that I had to DNF this book. Given that I did not enjoy Splintered, I think I will stay away from these gothic retellings by Howard from now on.