The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Retro Review

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Narrated by Ralph Cosham
Horror Audio, 7 hours + 40 minutes
First published in French as a serial in 1909, "The Phantom of the Opera" is a riveting story that revolves around the young, Swedish Christine Daaé. Her father, a famous musician, dies, and she is raised in the Paris Opera House with his dying promise of a protective angel of music to guide her. After a time at the opera house, she begins hearing a voice, who eventually teaches her how to sing beautifully. All goes well until Christine's childhood friend Raoul comes to visit his parents, who are patrons of the opera, and he sees Christine when she begins successfully singing on the stage. The voice, who is the deformed, murderous 'ghost' of the opera house named Erik, however, grows violent in his terrible jealousy, until Christine suddenly disappears. The phantom is in love, but it can only spell disaster. Leroux's work, with characters ranging from the spoiled prima donna Carlotta to the mysterious Persian from Erik's past, has been immortalized by memorable adaptations. Despite this, it remains a remarkable piece of Gothic horror literature in and of itself, deeper and darker than any version that follows.

Well, that was melodramatic.

Because I try not to be a quitter, I forced myself to finish this one. I can finish anything on audio, thought I. I am not a quitter, thought I. But after struggling to focus on this and backtracking 2 hours because I realized I had been daydreaming the entire time, I have come to the realization that the DNF review is not so bad a thing.

This read was torture. I finished it but did not have a good time. I felt like I was being punished the entire time.

“You don’t love me. But you will.”

Sorry Erik but no. No I won’t. Feel free to keep trying.

“You must know that I am made of death, from head to foot, and it is a corpse who loves you and adores you and will never, never leave you!”

Hmmm, slightly tempting. But no. And here’s why:

This story has the lovely gothic trappings that one would expect; an opera “ghost” who hides in the shadows, a helpless damsel and loads of secret passageways and hidden rooms where ominous things happen. But . . .

It was boring .There, I said it. It’s a rather dry read, goes off on tedious tangents about missing money for hours (felt like hours anyway) and the narration was a wee bit on the stuffy side, making it easy for me to doze off. It also features a love triangle between Christine the beauty, Erik the mentally unstable phantom and Raoul a weepy, boy-man who dissolved into a fit of tears whenever he thought Christine might not share in his insta-love. Note to Raoul: toughen up, man! Your tears are a perfectly good waste of suffering (thank you Clive Barker) and they are not attractive. Poor Christine. She would’ve been better off getting a dog than marrying either of these two.

This did not go down well for me. It was a struggle from beginning to end. I was very much expecting to become immersed in the world but instead I couldn’t wait to flee from it.

“I am dying of love. “ Erik


  1. I never did finish reading this one in one sitting. Took several attempts to finish it. I'm not sure if it was my mood or what, as so many loved it. I do enjoy the plays and movies for it.

    1. Well, I'm going with "it was the book, not you" :)

  2. Thank goodness they turned this one into a Broadway production and made it awesome. :-)

    1. I know, right?! So glad they cut out all of the annoying bits :)


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