When I was nine years old, I took a class on the fine art of lip synching. Yes, it was a class, for school. I love gifted education in Leon County, Florida. At the end of this class, we each had to perform a song of our choosing, in costume. I performed Madonna's "Material Girl." The best among us went on to perform solo at an actual concert, in front of parents. I wasn't one of those; there was, however, a young man who performed "Music of the Night" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, in full costume, complete with mask, hat, and cape. This was my introduction to the Opera Ghost, and I was in love immediately.
I don't know at what point mild interest in that musical became complete obsession, but in the intervening time I have read every Phantom-related item I could get my hands on, including Gaston Leroux's original novel and several stories inspired by it. That's the wonderful thing about works in the public domain, you see; you can publish and sell your fanfiction.
Basil of Baker Street in The Great Mouse Detective had kindled an interest in me in Sherlock Holmes, and I grew to find him immensely attractive as well.
Yes, I love fictional characters, perhaps more than real people. It was with great glee that I checked out from my public library The Angel of the Opera: Sherlock Holmes Meets the Phantom of the Opera. There's not a great deal of plot that is new to the story; this is Leroux's book with just a few new characters added in. What makes it so fascinating is the interplay of two of the greatest minds in fiction: Erik and Holmes. The actions Holmes takes in solving the mystery of the Opera Ghost keep the story moving forward, and it is this interaction between the two that makes the book worth reading.
Also, look at that cover art. How can you not love Erik dressed as The Red Death, sweeping down the stairs towards Sherlock Holmes?
If you like mysteries, gothic horror, the Victorian era, Sherlock Holmes, or the Phantom of the Opera, you should give this book a go. It provides certain entertainment. And not to spoil the ending, but those who were always upset with the raw treatment Erik got from Christine Daae may find some consolation in the way Siciliano wraps up Erik's story.
Under Radar Recommendations are books that we have read and loved. Period.
They're not necessarily new. They're not necessarily old.
They're books we think you'd love, 'cause we do.
There is, elsewhere, more of the usual awesomeness of the kidlitosphere. Fans of the under-read should also, check out:
Chasing Ray writing on Dorothy of Oz from Illusive Arts Entertainment (the Dorothy comic she says we should all be reading!),
Bildungsroman revisits Christopher Golden's Body of Evidence series,
Interactive Reader, a new convert to the Christopher Golden Body of Evidence fan club, provides more love,
At Not Your Mother's Bookclub: An interview with Robert Sharenow, author of My Mother the Cheerleader,
Bookshelves of Doom is all about The God Beneath the Sea, Black Jack & Jack Holburn all by Leon Garfield,
Writing and Ruminating has an interview with Tony Mitton and a review of his book, Plum ,
The YA YA YAs spread the love on I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Lee Wilson (And I can attest: awesome book, folks.),
A late inclusion from Semicolon on unbeatable picture books.
And Chicken Spaghetti wraps up Monday with The Illustrator's Notebook by Mohieddin Ellabad.
More Under Radar Goodness All Week Long: Stay tuned!