Short Spoiler Free summary: So…Rune, our main chica, has this beautiful gift of song, but is stricken with an “illness” after every song that flows from her. She gets sent to this super fancy artsy fartsy theater school in the countryside of France, to hopefully overcome her “disability” (if you will).
Thorn, our main chico is a mystery boy somehow linked to Rune. He plays an integral part in her transformations through the book, while harboring some deep secrets.
Spoiler Free review: I’m going to break this down by categories that I feel really make a good book:
1. Plot: I felt like I had the book all figured out by page 10, especially as a retelling of Phantom of the Opera. Fortunately, there were some twists that I had not planned on, which did keep me on my toes. There were some major plot holes, especially in the end when things get juicy.
2. World building: This is based in modern day France- our characters have access to cellphones and facebook. And most of the settings are based off of Phantom of the Opera- which of course is beautiful…but…it makes me sad that nothing seemed original or authentic to this retelling.
3. Character development: The secondary main characters seem pretty 2D- just there to move the story along. Our main characters are better described and fleshed out, however…Rune is annoying. Granted, she is kind of in the dark for most of the book, she is a complainer and moppy teenager. She may be relatable to someone who was 12-16 years old, but as a 24 year old, she isn’t the strong female lead I was hoping for. Thorn is better, but his whole character is meant to be a mystery and so he’s intriguing and his interactions and reasons for being the way he is are justified.
NOW MY FAV PART: SPOILERS!!!
*****DO NOT SCROLL BEYOND HERE IF YOU DONT WANT TO BE SPOILED*****
Hmmm…. I feel like I may be a little more savage now that I can actually use specific examples…
This set up will be more of a structured stream of consciousness, I hope you don’t mind!
The beginning: Rune is being a whiny teenager on her way to RoseBlood (the artsy fartsy school in France). My two main problems here:
a) a French school that ONLY takes American students… it seems so suspicious from the start. Like why would that be a thing?
b) Rune is not only whiny but she is being vague the whole time. You are in her head but she says things like “I see rainbows when I sing,” and “My grandma tried to kill me, twice.”
It’s a lot to take in for the for the first few chapters before I even know Rune to be able to tolerate her complaints.
The School: like I said above, it bothered me that the school is an EXACT replica of the opera houses in Paris aka in Phantom of the Opera. I wish it was *inspired* by, instead of a replica to give me more appreciation for the author’s world building skills.
Auras, Psychic Vampires, Gypsies: I love the idea of auras and them being used a sustenance. It’s very cool and maybe not the most original, but original enough for me to be pleased. HOWEVER- I hate the terms she uses to describe the things surrounding these things (psychic vampires and dream-visions are my least favorite). From Runes POV, I could tolerate it because she doesn’t know anything about thatworld because conveniently no one has realized she has awakened. But with Thorn, Aunt Charlotte, Father Erik…no one seems to used official terms for what they are. Eventually succumbed and incubus get thrown in there, but that seems so sudden to me and if that’s what they are, the people who know what they are should have been using those terms the whole time. It just seems inconsistent with me.
I did like the idea of twin flames, and your soul being split apart during reincarnation. That was really sweet to read about.
The Phantom’s Story: I did appreciate his backstory, where it stayed true to what we know as the Phantom of the Opera, but also had its own special things. My favorite being how Christine and him reconciling after the Opera days. And the baby. And that Christine was strong enough to be like “Don’t science experiment our dead baby.” That seemed really authentic to me.
Plot Holes: The biggest one that really bothered me was…how did Thorn survive the flooding? He said himself he wouldn’t survive. I am not convinced that Erik/Phantom freed him from the remaining manacle or that Erik even would. Erik didn’t seemed that moved by Thorn’s speech didn’t seem to move Erik passed his derrangment, at least not enough to convince me. And Rune took Diable so the devil-cat wouldn’t be able to help him either. And that played into the ending, where it becomes very YA-Disney-happily-ever-after.
Overall: That was a lot of complaints and issues, but the things I appreciated balanced with the things I had problems with, thus my score of 2.5/5. I liked Thorn – not Rune. I liked it when Howard adapted the original POTO story and made it her own, instead of just “replicating.”
Recommendations: I would recommended this for a younger audience. There is some sexual tension but it’s mostly just implied and they never actually do anything or even say the word “sex” for that matter. So maybe 12-17 year olds.
But I would not recommend it to anyone who wants a strong female lead, or leans more toward the adult end of the YA spectrum.