“The main bulk of his [Gaston Leroux’s] novel-indeed all screen and stage versions-had dealt only with the last six months of a man who must have been about fifty. I began to feel that the tale we had come to know as The Phantom of the Opera was perhaps only the magnificent tip of the iceberg.” So saying, Susan Kay began to embark on the journey of writing the book Phantom.Phantom tells the life story of a man called Erik. Erik, whom many know as the Phantom of the Opera, was always a man of mystery. Susan Kay strips away some of that mystery. Kay writes of Erik’s childhood-explaining that he gained the mask in infancy, given to him by the mother that couldn’t bear to look at him. It goes through Erik’s time with the gypsies, Erik’s time in Persia, Erik’s time as an assassin, Erik’s time as an architect. Only then does the story go to ‘present’ day when Erik meets Christine. Even then though, Kay uses her unique style to re-tell a familiar story.
Questions that may have plagued a reader about the Phantom in the original novel are answered in this book. Although it is true that the original author did not write this back-story, Kay handles the characters with care and love. It is also true that the original Phantom was written in 1910, and Leroux died in 1927, so by the time that Kay read the novel, Leroux was no longer around to answer questions. Which turned out for the better, as Kay may not have written this unforgettable novel otherwise. This novel gains five out of five stars.