Saturday, 19 July 2014

Review and Giveaway: Phantom's Dance by Lesa Howard

When I was about Christine Dadey's age, I fell in love with an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical about a talented young singer and the talented stalker who fixated on her. Then I found a film adaptation that was far more beautiful than even the musical, that moved me to tears and sold the humanity of the Phantom so strongly that ultimately, it was sad that Christine's character couldn't ever truly choose him. Many adaptations and a gleeful reading of a good translation of the original later, there is Phantom's Dance, by Lesa Howard- a modern re-imagining of the classic tale of The Phantom of the Opera, wherein our aspiring star is not just a dancer in the ballet company, but in fact, a dancer studying ballet with no designs on becoming a musician. Completely modernized and technologically relevant, Phantom's Dance was a complicated piece for me.
First and foremost, I liked it, but... there is no way to adapt this story without a but, is there? Ultimately, the heart of the Phantom's tale is always going to be that a cunning, psychologically abusive, and ultimately violent older man takes advantage of a young and overly trusting girl in downright criminal ways, and she invariably fails to properly involve authorities. When it's a story taking place before the advent of electrical lighting, it is easy to accept Christine's choices, but in 2014, it is harder.

Phantom's Dance deals with a wide swath of social issues- infidelity, contraception and the threat of teen pregnancy, and edges up on discussion about eating disorders while blatantly addressing racism, classism, and rape. It's a fast moving book with a driving rhythm that pushes the reader along, right into uncomfortable territory. Uncomfortable is good. It makes a reader think.

Christine Dadey’s family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. Now, two years later, Christine struggles to compete among the Academy’s finest dancers, her parents are on the brink of divorce, and she’s told no one about her debilitating performance anxiety and what she’s willing to do to cope with it.
Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world’s stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik’s face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he’s lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine.

Drawn in by Erik’s unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik’s declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be. But Christine’s hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik’s shadowy past jeopardizes Christine’s unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.


I'm not the typical author. I didn't always enjoy reading or writing. While in school, I found it to be a chore I'd just as soon skip. I would rather have been daydreaming, my favorite past time. It wasn’t until I grew up and didn’t have to, that I realized reading was fun. I soon discovered that reading fueled my daydreaming. So, remembering a short story I'd written in high school, I began imagining expanding that story into a book. Before long I found I had loads of ideas for not just the short story but other books and stories as well. Fast forward a few years, a lot of studying about writing, practicing my writing, studying some more, taking classes from people who knew what they were doing, studying and practicing yet more, and ta-dah, author! In the same way I had learned I loved reading, I learned I loved writing, too. It’s just that writing is a lot harder than reading.

Enter the Tour Wide Giveaway Below for a Signed copy of the book, Phantom mask, Dahlia from the phantom, and $20 gift card to book seller of your choice.

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Lesa said...

Hi, Sandra. Thank you for joining the Phantom's Dance blog tour with Xpresso. After reading your review, I can see that we had a similar reaction to just who Erik really was/is. I'm glad that you liked it, though because I realize not everyone will. He turned out to be quite different than the wounded soul I'd always loved and empathized with. I really appreciate the great review and I'm happy we connected.

my best,
Lesa Howard

Slee said...

Thanks- it's funny, I always built up the character into someone so much better who because of circumstances, and circumstances alone, had been twisted into a creature just as ugly on the inside. I like that your vision of Erik was really just the opposite.