Monday, June 24, 2013

Beyond the Masque by Kae D. Jacobs

So...... I had just finished watching Love Never Dies - the sequel of the musical The Phantom of the Opera so I was looking for some "phantom" spin-off books or "inspired by". Turns out there are quite a few, much like the cottage industry of Pride & Prejudice spin-offs, etc. I realize that some readers dislike these types of books and only see them as terrible bastardizations of classic works of literature. I have no problem with them - provided they are good and work overall.

I was able to find, and requested, a few from various libraries. The first book I read was a truly horrid contemporary "inspired by" story. It was bad on so many levels. It referenced the original works and had main characters who were crazed fans. Sigh. The "hero" was a total nutjob/stalker and the heroine totally went total Stockholm Syndrome.

But I digress. This second book I tried was Beyond the Masque, by Kae D. Jacobs. I found this book to be very well-written and exactly what I was looking for. It felt like it was written by a professional author, rather than somebody writing fan fiction. The story opens more or less picking up where the original story left off and goes from there. It tells a story of how Christine and her phantom could wind up together and still make sense and not make you roll your eyes. The characters are fleshed out with added depth. This book had the best version of the Christine character. In this book Christine is a product of her times, but she is not quite the passive damsel in distress that she appears to be in some incarnations - she is more self-aware. This book does not, as I'm told other "Phantom-inspired/spin-offs" do, make Raoul into a villain. The book is very romantic, almost very "Song of Solomon" at times. If you enjoy The Phantom of the Opera, or if you just enjoy romantic historical fiction, you might enjoy this book. It is written very much in the style of the period written about. It is most definitely not a snooze but it is also not a book w/ a million assorted conflicts haphazardly thrown in. It is simply the story of two people's journey through life and love. It is a rather lengthy book. The Epilogue ends at page 700. There is also an extensive character description/biography at the end that I found very helpful. In spite of it's length, I didn't feel as though I was trudging through it. I've read a few chapters each evening before bed, taking about a week or two to finish. Again - not for everybody but exactly what I was looking for & loved the writing. I very much look forward to reading more by this author - especially if she writes about some of the other characters that were in this book as she hinted at on her website. But after reading this book, I would try anything else by this author.

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