|The Phantom of Manhattan|
by Frederick Forsyth
Fan Fiction Sequel
Genre: Historical Fiction
This is a fan fiction sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version of The Phantom of the Opera, not Gaston Leroux's book. Forsyth begins with a lengthy introduction explaining the history of the original author and novel and how it was later interpreted by Webber. While this was a serious plot spoiler to the musical version, which I have never seen, I'm glad that he did explain it as I would have been completely lost when these scenes were referenced as it is completely different than the original book. Forsyth also goes into great detail about Leroux's error in "believing" an untruthful account of events in the original story which Leroux claims to be true. This is a literary license that many authors take, portraying a story as true events when it in fact is not. After Forsyth shows that events in The Phantom of the Opera are untrue, he goes forth to explain how Gaston did not understand the character of Erik, the Phantom. If the story were relating events that did actually happen then it could be possible that Gaston Leroux misunderstood the character. But as this is his own creation, he could not be confused as to Erik's past and current motivations as that is how Leroux created him. It's fiction, get over it and accept the character as he was created.
The Phantom of Manhattan is a continuation of the tragedy of poor Erik's life. It tells the tale of how the Phantom fled to New York, utilized his genius to become wealthy while remaining behind the scenes as usual. I found it quite curious that Erik's right hand man was named Darius yet it doesn't appear to be the same person who served as the Persian's servant with the same name in the original book.
While this story is well written and fairly entertaining, it falls a bit short as far as purpose. As far as sequels go, I preferred Phantom of Valletta which I reviewed last Sunday. It was truer to the style of the original story in that it contained both romance and intrigue and was a much more uplifting story instead of dealing poor Erik yet another blow.