Author: Rebecca F. Kenney
Publishes: October 30, 2019
Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
A darkly romantic gender-swapped modern retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, with a scarred Muse girl, a rock-star boy, and a singing competition. For fans of The Wicked Deep (Ernshaw), Wintersong (S. Jae-Jones), American Idol, or The Voice.
Mel must share her creative magic or be driven mad by it. But finding her first protégé isn’t as easy for her as it is for most Lianhan Sídhe (muses of Celtic myth). Though the women of her race are naturally beautiful, she carries horrifying scars across one side of her face, inflicted by her mother’s obsessive boyfriend. And Mel isn’t only interested in pouring her creative energy into a man; she wants to use her musical genius herself, too. But the laws of the Lianhan Sídhe, and her own savage appearance, stand in the way of her ever singing onstage.
To relieve the painful pressure of her magic, Mel latches onto Kiyoji, a boy with a beautiful voice, and coaches him through a televised singing competition. But neither of them are prepared for the power of their connection, or for the new kind of magic that happens when the two of them sing together.
Fans of Holly Black’s contemporary fantasy books (Tithe, Valiant) or Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely will enjoy this dark, offbeat retelling with a hint of cyberpunk and a dose of Celtic mythology. The novel celebrates a broad range of music from various decades.
Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.
I was a bit hesitant to read this book, because in the past I hadn’t enjoyed other books where the author attempted to mix music into the story (Example: “Wintersong” by S. Jae-Jones, which this book kept getting compared to). I should also say that I’ve never read or seen Phantom of the Opera. But I should not have worried, because the musical aspect in this book blended seamlessly into the story. Maybe it was the more modern setting, the simple precise wording, or the well-known songs that are mentioned, but I really enjoyed the blend of magic and music and I found the story very unique and alluring.
I liked reading the book through all the different points of views. It’s mainly told through Mel’s POV, but it switches to Kiyo, and many of the others as well. Each character had their own unique voice and perspective, and I could always tell when a new point of view was introduced. I liked that Mel was a flawed main character, and that we get to see her change and evolve throughout. Her dark side was a good contrast to Kiyo’s naivete and innocence. Also, the love aspect between Mel and Kiyo did not feel rushed. There was no “insta-love,” and they took their time getting to know each other. My favorite character was Prince, the cat.
I found the miscommunication between the characters in the middle of the story a bit annoying. It was at a point in the story where I felt there was already enough conflict going on, and I kept thinking “Just talk to each other!” Also, there were some unanswered questions and small plot holes when it came to the magic system. I don’t do spoilers, but there is something that happens as a result of Mel using her magic, and I was waiting for a good explanation but never got one.
The world building was well done. I could definitely picture this old school and its many rooms and passages in my mind’s eye as I was reading. The characters were well described, and I felt like I had a good grasp on what they all looked like. Overall, this was a great fast paced read, and I would recommend it to all Fantasy/ YA fans looking for a great story full of enthralling magic, music, and a new modern take on Phantom of the Opera.