|Read a NetGalley eARC
Trigger warning: Suicide, mental illness episodes, murder, blood
Phantom of the Opera was one of my major fascinations when I was a child and it’s exciting to find a book that’s a beat-for-beat retelling with a bit of a different focus. In this tale, Megan Van Helsburg has been running from her theatrical past until her mountaineering career tanks and she finds herself back at a theater once terrorized by the Bridegroom Killer. The murders have started again and a mysterious stranger has taken a liking to her.
I really enjoyed how Shamy incorporated her expertise in ballet throughout the narrative. It felt very organic to the story. The new additions, like the mountaineering, also folded in very well, both from a character growth perspective and from a way that different types of physical activities build on each other. In addition, the book takes a Black Swan angle when it comes to the depiction of mental illness. It worked for me, but this might not be true for other readers. I appreciated the nuance of there being no cure and that sometimes “love” becomes mistakenly coupled with cruelty and this is challenged throughout.
The romance between Bellamy and Megan also worked, but what really struck out to me was how much there was a focus of friendship between Megan and Jane and Megan and Luke. In the original narrative, these side characters did not get much of a spotlight. Luke gets his own POV, and I really liked Jane’s arc.
A darkly romantic, twisted tale of legacy and the things people will do for the people they love, all taking place in a ballet theater.