Blog Book Tour | “The Phantom’s Apprentice” by Heather Webb a brilliant re-telling of #PhantomOfTheOpera by the #histnov author I admire for giving us strong female leads throughout History – providing a beautiful lens into #HerStory!

Posted Monday, 26 February, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 5 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Phantom’s Apprentice” direct from the author Heather Webb in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was so enamored with the premise behind ‘The Phantom’s Apprentice’:

Aside from being an admirer of the author’s collective works (as hinted at through my conversational tweets attached to the bottom of this review) and having had the joyful blessing of being able to follow her career whilst I’ve been a book blogger – all of this aside, I’ve been a girl whose appreciated Broadway and Musicals since I was old enough to listen to original soundtracks on cassette tape. I used to go to sleep with a tape of Annie – not the stage play version but the original motion picture soundtrack. From there, I graduated into more familiar Musicals – including listening to the Michael Crawford soundtrack for Phantom until it etched itself into my blood.

I continued to follow Phantom – from watching the PBS broadcast of the anniversary production from London to celebrating the motion picture adaptation starring Emmy Rossum. Whilst I was writing my ruminative thoughts on behalf of this novel, I was playing the motion picture soundtrack channel for Phantom via Pandora Radio which showcased all versions of the play and musical.

I am also an appreciator of Gothic Literature – something I haven’t actively pursued on my blog – except in short spurts and showcases – however, in the back of my wanderings is a keen interest to resume my Gothic readings, as I’ve had my eye on Kate Morton for several years now. She’s only one of the authors whose winked out a recognition of the kind of Gothic vein of interest which whets a healthy appetite to explore. Closer to finishing is my reading of Jane Eyre which I always held in high esteem – mostly stemming out of a love of the author’s vision for Eyre and what I found in a film adaptation I felt owned to the strength of who Eyre was and is for all of us to know through this beautiful novel.

The music of Phantom – irregardless of which incantation of performance and artistic vision are the songs which lift my soul. The sound of Phantom is individually distinctive and the story within it’s heart is one of gutting emotions surrounding the suspense of what is truly happening to Christine and of what motivates the Phantom himself to pursue her to such an extent of invested interest. It is also part cautionary tale about obsession and misguided love.

Knowing this story was in the hands, heart and mind of Ms Webb was enough to convince me I needed to read this evocative re-telling. She’s one author I appreciate reading due to her tenacious approach to drawing forward the strong female leads I personally find myself engaging with as I read their stories. I have a newfound interest in Feminist Historical Fiction and of finding the voices out of History who are celebrating #HerStory. You’ll find many writers who write these kinds of stories peppered throughout my archives and featured within my Story Vault. It is a pleasurable joy each time I get the chance to read a story which evokes such a strong reaction and provides me with hours of cherished happiness for having found the characters and the world in which they live.

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Blog Book Tour | “The Phantom’s Apprentice” by Heather Webb a brilliant re-telling of #PhantomOfTheOpera by the #histnov author I admire for giving us strong female leads throughout History – providing a beautiful lens into #HerStory!The Phantom's Apprentice
by Heather Webb
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

In this re-imagining of Phantom of the Opera, meet a Christine Daaé you’ve never seen before…

Christine Daaé sings with her violinist Papa in salons all over Paris, but she longs to practice her favorite pastime—illusions. When her beloved Papa dies during a conjurer’s show, she abandons her magic and surrenders to grief and guilt. Life as a female illusionist seems too dangerous, and she must honor her father’s memory.

Concerned for her welfare, family friend Professor Delacroix secures an audition for her at the Nouvel Opéra—the most illustrious stage in Europe. Yet Christine soon discovers the darker side of Paris opera. Rumors of murder float through the halls, and she is quickly trapped between a scheming diva and a mysterious phantom. The Angel of Music.

But is the Angel truly a spirit, or a man obsessed, stalking Christine for mysterious reasons tangled in her past?

As Christine’s fears mount, she returns to her magical arts with the encouragement of her childhood friend, Raoul. Newfound hope and romance abounds…until one fateful night at the masquerade ball. Those she cares for—Delacroix, the Angel, and even Raoul—aren’t as they seem. Now she must decide whom she trusts and which is her rightful path: singer or illusionist.

To succeed, she will risk her life in the grandest illusion of all.

Genres: After Canons, Gothic Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Re-telling &/or Sequel

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780999628508

Also by this author: Becoming Josephine, Author Interview: Heather Webb (Rodin's Lover), Rodin's Lover, Cover Reveal: Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War, Last Christmas in Paris

Published by Sonnet Press

on 6th February, 2018

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 350

Published By: Sonnet Press

Converse via: #HistFic, #HistoricalFiction + #HistNov

as well as #ThePhantomsApprentice w/ #PhantomOfTheOpera

About Heather Webb

Heather Webb

HEATHER WEBB is the author of historical novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin’s Lover, and the anthology Fall of Poppies, which have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Elle, France Magazine, and more, as well as received national starred reviews.

RODIN’S LOVER was a Goodreads Top Pick in 2015. Last Christmas in Paris, an epistolary love story set during WWI released October 3, 2017, and The Phantom’s Apprentice, a re-imagining of the Gothic classic Phantom of the Opera from Christine Daae’s point of view releases February 6, 2018. To date, her novels have sold in ten countries. Heather is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend.

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About the Author’s Note to Readers:

I personally love when letters to readers are enclosed with novels – I am unsure if this one is in the final copy or if it were only included in the ARC, as it reminds of how my favourite ‘letters from the editor’ are only inclusive of ARCs wherein I wish others could see what is written on behalf of those stories, too! In this regard, Ms Webb was sharing how captivated she was by Phantom at sixteen – as I had mentioned, I was quite a bit younger than this when I first met the Phantom; most likely by six years. It was lovely reading her thoughts about how the music affected her – as we literally had the same immersive experience – the music truly has haunted our spirit as soon as we learnt of it’s presence; it is an enchanting rock opera which never truly leaves you. It simply becomes ‘a part of you’,… a credit to how the sound of Phantom has a universal visceral tone which enchants each new listener in turn,…

Of having read her previous works (save the short in Fall of Poppies) I can see how she was inspired to write Christine’s story in a manner of approach both Webber and Leroux had overlooked. For this is what she does dear hearts, Ms Webb pulls out the hidden histories of women, by showing the strength of their resolve and the hidden legacies of who they were if only they had had their own voice. This is why I champion her writing and why I seek out others who are in her stead of selecting the women to focus on whilst giving us a personal way of time travelling through their footsteps.

The clever bit here, is she took a similar path of entry as Luccia Gray (of whom wrote an after canon sequel trilogy for Jane Eyre) – she combined the musical and the novel with her own added flair for Feminist Historical Fiction and developed what we all now have in our hands as The Phantom’s Apprentice. How blessed are we!?

My Review of the phantom’s apprentice:

As point of entrance, I was museful as we found Christine in 1891, shortly after a performance – completely unsettled after what she sensed was seen but couldn’t quite put her mind round the truthfulness of what was observed – yet, here as her make-up was about to be removed, her eye saw the one thing which couldn’t be imagined: a single red rose. From here, we move backward before our memories of Phantom can collide together with this re-telling of the story – flickering back the chapters of this young Christine to 1877, wherein she is practicing how to engage an audience with her voice. It was this juxtaposition we start to see the innocence and heart of Christine – of wanting to embrace her father’s vision for her future but also, to hold onto a piece of her own dreams and endeavour to draw forth her own passion for what her future might reveal.

Christine in this incantation comes from very humble origins – of a life on the road with her father, two Swedes who had become caught inside the allure of Paris and what it offered to musicians and artists alike. For hers was a somber tale, a girl who lost her mother too early in her years, a father who sacrificed his own wellness to embetter the life of his daughter and a loving benefactor who saw her talent needed to be nurtured. You can feel the thankfulness of father and daughter in having a warm place to shelter – not just for their physical needs, but their spiritual ones – as the longer you go without permanent placement, you are but cast against the elements. You never feel properly a part of a place and have within you a restlessness to succeed if only to have a portion of what everyone else has achieved to have in their own lives – a small bit of normalcy.

I could personally relate to the allure of illusion and cards – I was a young girl who grew up mesmorised by the illusions of David Copperfield whose acts were televised and felt all-consuming – as he had a knack for pulling in his audiences. There was one year, whilst still in middle school he charmed me by showing exactly how to perform one singular card trick – I surprised myself by mastering it and further delighted one of my teachers by being able to re-invent it with my own little spin of flair for her pleasure. It was the first time I connected with magic and illusion – it has been a pursuit of mine to sort out different acts, although at best, I’m better with how you unwind metal puzzles or this one card trick which bewitched me. I do better one on one – sorting out magic and illusion on my own isn’t as easy – though, there was a bit of hope courtesy of a magic shoppe in the Pacific Northwest, who lamented: for those who are awed by magic, the illusion of magic is never quite out of reach nor is the enjoyment of being suspended from reality for the moment the illusionist has gained your attention. The foresight of that declaration wasn’t lost on me – for magicians and illusionists have still captured my heart – there is something about it – of constructing something just out of sight and delighting the child in us all with a dash of the unthinkable to pepper our lives with something quite extraordinary and creative.

I love how characters have attachments to animals – as it is reminiscent of our lives – of how we appreciate the companions who renew our happiness whilst alive. For Christine, she chose to have canaries and it reminded me of the short moments I had with birds – as for whichever reason, the birds I adopted had very short lives of their own to share with me, though their presence was beloved all the same. Birds have a way of singing to our heart and this I could understand would be a need Christine would have herself – of finding something out of life which could soothe her aching mind for a measure of peace out of the anguish she allowed herself to become engulfed by as she was not one for self-forgiveness when life turnt adverse.

Following Claudette and Christine into the market brought good memories to mind – it is the kind of market where you get lost moving from stall to stall – as each of the people selling their wares or their edible goods has either a wicked good story to impart upon you or they have something curiously keen in their stall which wicks out a bit of joy in your spirit for having seen. I do love market scenes as I appreciate finding them IRL and in fiction, writers like Ms Webb showcase them well for how there is a sea of wondrous possibility for what you can find! Herein, as Christine was encouraged to find an object she would enjoy (if only to draw her out of her depression, as it felt as if she had become encased in a self-declared cloud) – you could tell how the locked boxes were something she’d fancy, for the challenge to secret out their hidden compartments would distract her heart. I know of these well – local artisans love to make them and I never tire of sorting out how they constructed their compartments.

We only gained a glimpse of a nod about the Phantom here – it was Claudette who first mused about him and as we know him as well as we do from previous stories – even a fleeting observation is enough to confirm his identity. I knew he would come into sight soon enough, especially now that Christine was of age and without parental influence. It wasn’t until Christine was part of the cast for her first performance in the same opera house where her father died did we start to learn about the Phantom once more. Prior to her position being accepted, she was entreating to find a man to wed if only to take off the pressures of her benefactor of whom had become such a fond champion of her affairs. The kind of woman who any father would be thankful to entrust his daughter to after death.

Christine and Claudette had a strong friendship between them, but when Christine finally started to allow herself to grow a bit – to seek out a path for herself, she started to bloom again. As if the music itself was re-generating her own soul out of hibernation and allowing herself to feel the emotions she had tried to trample out of her spirit. She was a conflicted singer – she wanted to own the legacy her father had instilled inside her but her heart was torn between song and the illusions which bewitched her mind with the challenge behind them to draw a crowd into shocked awe and reverie. Only time would reveal which of her two passions would win her heart and of which, would reveal the most about her destiny. Part of me felt Ms Webb was foreshadowing her greater legacy would be to embody both passions and entwine them somehow together in a way no one had previously felt they could pull together.

I was fascinated by how Ms Webb had brought into the narrative during one particular scene which was meant to evoke a reaction out of Christine – to draw her out of her depressive state – where instead of an Ouija board, it was a spinning table which was used to ‘tell the messages’ from somewhere beyond the plane of our reality. I can’t remember if I had heard of this technique previously but it was a charmed edition to the scene because it was uniquely ‘different’ than what was expected!

As the Phantom and Christine start to entreat into a relationship between student and mentor – a lot of what brought them together tracks into the narrative out of the memories I have of Phantom. She was willing to be a student of his if only to reach a higher level of accomplishment past what her father had taught her and his motivations on taking on an apprentice were not readily known – even if we could surmise it ourselves knowing his fuller history. Still, there are layers of intrigue here – of how the art of illusion and her craft for song would continue to dance into each other and become united as one artistic gift within a soul who was tortured by her own memories whilst beseeched to be a creative at a time where women were only meant to be married off.

One thing Christine was is a resourceful girl – she’s not easily scared off by acts of illusion nor of messages which seek to leave her cowering to someone elses bidding. No, she is her own woman – growing in her maturity and the experiences of sorting out her truer path and the gift she has for inventing complicated illusions she is still on the cusp of owning the confidence she is endeavouring to embrace. Her mind is instinctively set to the components of what make the craft work for the audience – of the gears and objects which an illusionist can use to conjure what they want the spectators to believe to be real whilst captialising on the small moments wherein the illusion and magic elevate themselves into everyone’s memory.

Following in her footsteps, as her heart spurned her forward – to seek what she had tried to repress and to embrace what was naturally intrinsic to her own creative nature, we find Christine emerging from a depressive past into a wholly new future she would define on her own terms.

There is a curious undertone to this story – of how part of the illusion of her past had been told through half-truths she never felt was suspect. Almost as if something else was not yet understood just outside the periphery of her memories? The manner of approach Ms Webb cast into Christine’s story-line is a play on how illusions are not merely cast by a trickster or performer – sometimes the greater illusions are the mirrors in which we view our lives. Either by choice or by the stories we were told which may or may not have contained the fuller truth of the events which shaped our destinies. For everyone has a foundation upon which they build their futures – their sense of self and their sense of purpose can become linked to their sense of identity – herein, this was part of Christine’s living truth – of a girl on the fringes of womanhood who was about to take away the masks which she never knew were obscuring the truthfulness of her own living history.

notations on ms webb’s writing style:

Not too long ago, I was reading a story by Ms Burgis which also placed me inside of a theatre which had caught fire – having read that horrific account which also involved magic of another sort (a more demonic version of illusion intermixed with alchemy) I was unsure if I was fully prepared to go back down the rabbit hole of another fire such as this as sometimes as we’re reading Historical Fiction – settings, eras, or horrific tragedy tend to blur together – as writers are inspired by similar moments and each entreat to engage us in their vision for their stories. This time round, it was the emotional realisation a child has within them to recognise how fragile our time is with our loved ones, how sacrificial our parents are to our dreams and how in the end, we must find strength out of chaos.

Except of course, fire would play a more central role in the story – as we all know what befelled the Phantom but more to the point, it is how fire is used as an erasure of identity and a measure of sacrifice to hide secrets which are best to be laid to rest. There are layers here which are explored – the technical details are quite detailed which grant a measure of leeway for how the relationship between Christine and the Phantom can be re-explored – not just as a manic development of obsessive compulsion to control her voice and life but of how there can be a respect amongst colleagues.

There is of course a fine line between master and apprentice – in all artistic mediums – of where the lines can blur and where the sanctity of the mind can be at risk. Ms Webb re-explores the taut question behind the truer nature of the Phantom, as is he removed from his moral sense of self and justice or is something else motivating him to seek out Christine – perhaps something even deeper than his controlling behaviour and his obsession with the theatre? These are the lines in which Ms Webb chose to etch into the background of her novel – of seeking to find a renewal of truth and the sociological effects of someone who is spiralling into madness without realising they have lost traction with the world.

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

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2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge badge created by Jorie in Canva.

{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Phantom’s Apprentice”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Heather Webb and the tour badge were all provided by HFVBTs (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

I’m a social reader | I tweet my readerly life

Originally, I was was meant to only feature an Author Interview for this blog tour – however, Ms Webb happily surprised me with an ARC which I received in time to read for the blog tour – albeit the fact I read the night and morn of my tour stop – as I had a difficult February to shift through,… the happiest of secrets for me though was sitting on the fact I had a print copy to read and cherish. I announced this as I began my journey into the story – however, as you will notice, as soon as I caught sight of the novel itself – I couldn’t help myself – I was gushing from that first sighting and onward into the New Year – long before I ever knew when I’d be able to read the story — as if I hadn’t been blessed with a copy, my next course of action was to try to get my library to purchase it – which I believe I also did do eventually – as you have to time it properly for a library to consider – I’ve honestly lost track this year how many stories I’ve submitted for purchase, but I believe this one went into the suggestions for January. Either way – the joy for me was moving my tour stop from an ‘interview’ to a ‘review’ and planning the interview to run after the blog tour! I’ll let these tweets speak for themselves — and if you love any of them, kindly RT or favour them to your readers!

Comments via Twitter:

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 26 February, 2018 by jorielov in 19th Century, After the Canon, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Cemeteries & Graveyards, Composer, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debilitating Diagnosis & Illness, Father-Daughter Relationships, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, France, French Literature, Good vs. Evil, Gothic Literature, Gothic Mystery, Gothic Romance, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Thriller Suspense, Horror-Lite, Indie Author, Inspired by Stories, Literary Adaptations, Literary Fiction, Mediums & Clairvoyants, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, New York City, Opera, Psychological Suspense, PTSD, Re-Told Tales, Realistic Fiction, Unrequited Eternal Love, Women's Fiction

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5 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “The Phantom’s Apprentice” by Heather Webb a brilliant re-telling of #PhantomOfTheOpera by the #histnov author I admire for giving us strong female leads throughout History – providing a beautiful lens into #HerStory!

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Davida,

      Ooh dear my — I hadn’t realised you only authorise Google+ commentary on your blog – I just visited your ruminative thoughts about Phantom — I was going to leave you a lovely note underneath your review – I best give you my thoughts here.

      I definitely agreed with your sentiments about how Ms Webb created a coming-of age story to give fuller scope to Christine’s life and journey. The back-story on her behalf and how her life intervenes with Raoul were well crafted as they provided keen insight into both characters. I have found Ms Webb excells at this – of developing back-stories full of conviction and the kind of authenticity you’d expect of the women she’s portraying as each of them in turn, did something which had them ‘step outside’ of the norms for their era. Similar to you, I also enjoyed seeing the development of the Phantom and of why this particular time round he had more to bear than in the past. In fact, it is easier to reconcile why he was behaviouring the way he had and why he might have gone mad due to the circumstances Ms Webb revealled.

      Let me know if you open your blog to comments outside of Google, I’d be happy to leave notes under your posts – as I truly love how you dig into the heart of what moves you whilst your reading! Those are the kinds of reviews and posts I love to find – as they seek the common thread of how reading is such an intrapersonal experience – it grants us a window into our own past, our present and what we hope of the future whilst settling into the vision the writer had for the story to tell us. Thank you for giving me such an enthralling read!

      *So very happy our paths crossed through the #HistFic Reading Challenge!

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