Having been so overshadowed by its various adaptations, I wondered if the original novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera
, was going to turn out to be one of those classic novels that hasn't stood the test of time too well. So I was pleasantly surprised when I actually found it to have held up pretty well, one of those gothic horror novels that's managed to retain much of its atmosphere. True, it has some awkwardness of style as a lot of 19th and early 20th Century novels do - here in the sense that most of the story is told in a very effective journalistic, third-person style which near the end suddenly gets replaced with a more melodramatic first-person narrative; and the central romantic couple of Christine and Raoul are nonentities. But for the most part it's really effectively atmospheric and a much quicker read than a lot of novels of the time. And it was interesting to find out how much Lon Chaney's iconic makeup design from the first movie adaptation -
is in fact accurate to Leroux's description in the book, in which the Phantom's disfigurement is a face that looks like a bare skull that's come to life. Although he's a bit less gothically scary when you find out his name's Erik.