The Phantom of Manhattan by Frederick Forsyth
Reviewed by Steve Rudd
So, The Phantom of The Opera is perhaps one of the best-known stories in the world, but how many
of you good people realised that a sequel to the story has actually been written - and has been
kicking around for some years now - by the one and only Frederick Forsyth?
The original, horrifying Phantom of The Opera story was penned by Frenchman Gaston Leroux, but the world at
large has come to know and love Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of such a tall Gothic-romance tale, courtesy of his hugely successful West End show that is going stronger than ever.
The Phantom of Manhattan, bizarrely, doesn't seem to be that well known and
certainly hasn't been that much of a best-selling book for Forsyth compared to
his far better known works such as The Dogs of War, The Day of The Jackal and The Odessa File.
Still, the follow-up Phantom is a fantastic story, with - as the title suggests -
the action and romance shifted from Paris to New York at the turn of the last century.
Set just over a decade after The Phantom of The Opera, The Phantom of Manhattan
thrillingly reveals that the Phantom is still alive and kicking (even if he continues
to keep one heck of a low profile due to persistent insecurities about his disfigured face,
residing as he does at the top of a skyscraper) in the Big Apple... and he's
still hopelessly in love with opera singer Christine from the original story.
Luckily for him, the Phantom manages to persuade Christine to come to New York to star in an opera.
Christine, though, has no idea that he is there... waiting, and hoping that there might just be a chance that they both have some kind of future together.
Even if I am to be repulsed again, everything has changed. I can look down from this high eyrie onto the heads of that human race I so loathe, but now I can say: you can spit on me, defile me; jeer at me, revile me; but nothing you can do will hurt me now. Through the filth and through the rain, through the tears and through the pain, my life's not been in vain.
Forsyth has done a remarkable job of conjuring up New York circa 1906, and the menacing
scene set in one of the Coney Island amusement parks in particular - along with
the grand scene in which Christine arrives by ocean liner to the city - are unforgettable
moments in a genuinely exciting story that should please fans of The Phantom no end.
Any loose ends from the original story are drawn together perfectly, so seek out this story if you can -and go and
see The Phantom of The Opera musical if you never have.
Because if you miss either of them then you really do miss out.
ISBN 0-593-04510-6 (first published in 1999 by Bantam Press).
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He doesn't need any money... all he needs is his rucksack.
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