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Literature / Phantom

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Phantom is a 1990 novel by Susan Kay, based on The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, with obvious influence from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical. It chronicles the title character's life, from birth to death. The story is split into seven sections, each narrated in the first person by a different character.

This version is reputed as being the second most popular (the first being the original novel itself) literary adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, even going into the realms of Ascended Fanfic.


Most of the tropes in the original novel and musical apply. Specifically, this book contains examples of:

  • Asshole Victim: Erik kills Javert to stop his invoking Attempted Rape (See below.).
  • Abusive Parents: Madeleine, though portrayed more sympathetically than most cases. Yes, she's a spoiled brat, but she's lost her parents and beloved husband in rapid succession, leaving her to struggle by while she's shunned by society for giving birth to a monster. In addition, Erik is not an easy child to live with and he nearly drives her insane, however unintentionally.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Oh yes. Almost the whole of Erik's life is fleshed out, the daroga gets a name and expanded backstory, and the novel even goes beyond the original story's finale.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Invoked by Erik twice to his master, Javert. Once when he begs to go home/get his mask back. The second time occurs when Javert tries to rape him. Made worse by the fact that this is type 2.
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  • Angry Mob: One shows up at the gates of Erik's childhood home, and kills his dog Sasha.
  • Animal Motifs: Christine's son is compared to a cuckoo in the last line of the book, referring to his status as Erik's son and his adoption by Raoul.
  • Artistic Stimulation: The Khanum provides Erik with hashish in the hopes that it will "inspire" him to develop more new and twisted methods of torture. It is 100% successful.
  • Ascended Extra: Nadir Khan, AKA the Persian/Daroga.
  • Attempted Rape: Javert to Erik.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Fed up with Luciana's pesters, insults, and commands to see his face, and hurt by Giovanni's order to unmask himself, Erik snaps at them and pulls his mask off. Horrified, Luciana runs the opposite way and falls to her death from the roof.
  • Backstory: Quite a lot in Erik's case. Nadir's as well.
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  • Berserker Tears: Erik, in his tirade against Christine, during the climax of Counterpoint.
  • Biggus Dickus: When the Khanum threatens to castrate Erik and have him put his manparts in a jar, he asks her if she's sure the jar will be big enough. (He was likely joking.)
  • Bittersweet Ending: Well, for one, Erik dies. So does Christine, albeit about seventeen years later, and Raoul is left to look after another man's son. He does love Charles dearly, though, and has long come to accept the situation and glory in his child's accomplishments.
  • Blood from the Mouth:
    • Erik coughs up quite a lot of blood after he's poisoned by the new Vizier.
    • Giovanni coughs some up, a sign of his failing health.
  • Body Horror: What happens to the victims of Erik's torture methods in Persia.
  • Bound and Gagged: Erik ends up like this after trying to hide his face from Javert's customers and trying to commit suicide. Javert ties him to the cage and gags him.
  • Captive Date: Christine is this when she and Erik first meet face-to-face.
  • Cats Are Mean: Just to Raoul, though. Erik's cat, Ayesha, loved Erik and later loves Christine's son. Probably because he's Erik's son. Although she also constantly interrupts Erik's playing by jumping on the keyboard.
  • Character Development: Despite her Flanderization, Christine does manage to go through this; while she keeps her child-like mentality, she grows a spine over the course of the novel, culminating in her going to visit the dying Erik after Raoul forbids her to.
  • Child Prodigy: Erik. Charles too. Runs in the family.
  • Circus Brat: Erik.
  • Coldblooded Torture: The Khanum loves this. Though not as keen to enjoy it, Erik commits a lot these during his years in Persia.
  • Come to Gawk: Javert puts Erik's face on display.
  • Compelling Voice: Erik's voice, Up to Eleven here, almost pornographically so. Literally everyone comments on how sexual, unearthly and hypnotic it is, even when he only says one word.
  • Cool Old Guy: Giovanni.
  • Creepy Child: Erik.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Giovanni and Nadir believe this about Erik. They're right.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The Shah and Khanum are fond of this when it comes to their enemies. The sight is not pretty.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Erik to a T.
  • Death by Childbirth: Rookheeya.
  • Dented Iron: Erik, by the time the events of The Phantom of the Opera come around. Despite being well into middle age, he's still noted as cutting an impressive, intimidating figure and he easily weaves his way through the labyrinthine secret passages he personally installed in the Opera House, but it's also clear that he isn't nearly as physically capable as he was before his poisoning at the hands of the Khanum. Between this and his addiction to morphine, it isn't a surprise that he quickly declines after his first heart attack.
  • Despair Event Horizon: When Erik resigns to his fate as a caged freakshow. He enters the horizon again when all the torture and killing in Persia takes its toll on him.
  • Disappeared Dad: Charles, Erik's father. He died in a construction accident.
  • Dramatic Unmask: At least one per section. And they are very, very dramatic.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The Shah. And arguably Erik, in an extremely twisted way.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Maybe not quite standards, but Erik is noted to be disturbed by the Kharnum's love of violence.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Erik fears this at the Romanis' hands after Dunicha says she'll frame him for rape, leading to his decision to flee the camp.
    • In Persia, one man has candles stuck into holes gouged in his body. He's then dragged around the city before finally being put to death.
    • Dr. Barye plans to send Erik to a mental institution, something the latter considers this trope.
  • Flanderization : A lot of people love the book but hate Kay's portrayal of Christine. While in the original novel Christine was rather naive and childlike at some points, she was still a fundamentally sensible, strong willed and independent young woman who stood up to enormous mental pressure on all sides and tried to keep Raoul out of danger. In this book, however, it's flat-out stated she's as mentally fragile as a cracked vase, will always have a child-like mentality and needs a man to take care of her: "Whoever marries Christine is going to have to play the role of father as well as lover."
  • Force Feeding: Javert shoves food down Erik's mouth when the boy refuses to eat.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Erik running away from home, the horrors in Persia, Nadir's exile, the events at the Opera House, etc. The majority of Erik's youth in general - anyone familiar with the original tale knows that, however good it might currently be, it will not end well.
  • Freudian Excuse: Erik's got a ton of these.
  • Functional Addict: Erik manages to be a fully operating Opera Ghost and be addicted to morphine. Up until he has his first heart attack; then things start going downhill at a fairly steady pace.
  • God Save Us From the Khanum: Pretty much sums her up in a nutshell.
  • Happily Married: Charles and Madeleine, Nadir and Rookheeya, Christine and Erik for their single night, Christine and Raoul to an extent.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason the Shah tries to kill Erik.
  • Heel Realization: After Erik is nearly killed by an angry mob, his mother realizes what a terrible mother she's been and resolves to be better in the future. Unfortunately, he runs away before she gets the chance.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Erik and Nadir in the Persia section. Arguably during the Opera House years as well.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Erik gets one after Christine takes his mask off.
  • Hope Spot: Madeleine rejects Etienne's proposal after Erik survives the knife attack and resolves to be a loving mother from that point onwards. She even plans to burn the masks. But Erik runs away before hearing her answer to the proposal.
  • Identical Grandson: Erik's son to the first Charles.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Raoul to Christine, frequently.
  • Ill Girl: Well, boy. Reza, Nadir's son, suffers from Tay-Sachs disease.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Christine and Madeleine, although in the portrait of Madeleine that Erik shows Christine, Madeleine wears an "I am a spoiled asshole" look that lessens the resemblance.
  • Interrupted Suicide: A pubescent Erik attempts to poison himself when he's feeling particularly miserable among the band of Romani. He abandons the idea after remembering that it would just lead to his going to hell.
    • As per the original novel, Christine tries to kill herself via head bashing. She's stopped.
  • It's All About Me: The Kharnum, Luciana, and Madeleine especially.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Erik eventually.
  • Kick the Dog: The mob trying to assault Madeleine's home kills Sasha and severely wounds Erik.
    • The assassins going after the first vizier stab him to death viciously.
    • The Khanum executes the slave girl Erik sent away.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The local village boys in Boscherville throw rocks at Madeleine's home, often mocking her and calling for the "monster."
    • When Erik first wakes in his cage, some Romani children poke him with sticks, only stopping when Javert arrives and when Erik stops responding. Erik also mentions the children throwing rocks at him and chanting names whenever he walked by them.
  • Like a Son to Me: Giovanni considers Erik to be the son he never had.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Christine's son, Charles, has been noted to be rather similar to Erik.
  • Little Professor Dialog: Young Erik sometimes speaks this way, unnerving Madeleine.
  • Love at First Note: A variant. Erik immediately becomes obsessed with Christine after first hearing her sing, because her voice is the most technically perfect thing he's ever heard, but she sounds completely soulless.
  • Love Epiphany: When she learns that Erik is dying, Christine is struck with the realization that she loved him all along, and immediately rushes to his side.
  • Meaningful Name: Nadir means "the lowest point".
  • Mercy Kill: After it's become obvious that Reza's health is a hopeless cause, Erik feeds him a poison to put him out of his misery. Nadir lets him.
  • Missing Mom: Rookheeya, Reza's mother and Nadir's dead wife.
  • Morality Pet: Marie is one for Erik; thanks to her kind example, and despite all the horrible things he does over his long career of dealing out death and pain, he never harms a defenseless woman.
  • The Mourning After: The epilogue makes it clear that Christine never really got over Erik's death.
  • Murder Makes You Crazy: Erik seems to make some disturbing mental development after he kills Javert.
  • Near-Rape Experience: Erik has an extremely close encounter at Javert's hands. He manages to kill his master before anything else could happen.
  • Oedipus Complex: Erik's relationship with his mother is pretty twisted; then he goes and falls madly, passionately and irrevocably in love with Christine - who happens, by pure coincidence, to resemble Madeline exactly. Huh.
  • Out with a Bang: Never explicitly stated to happen, but since Christine was carrying Erik's child, and the only time she could have slept with him was when he was dying...
  • Precision F-Strike: Erik to Nadir: "FUCK your customs".
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Erik, a Friend to All Living Things misanthrope, invokes this big-time when a priest says that only humans can be Together in Death.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Marie, when Madeleine won't go to Erik after he's injured himself, has finally had enough:
    "Get up!" she stormed. "Get up, you spoiled, sniveling brat! All your life you've been spoiled ... by your parents, by Charles, by me ... everyone pandering to Madeleine, dear, pretty Madeleine. Well, it's not enough simply to be pretty, do you hear me, Madeleine? It doesn't excuse you from human obligations. It doesn't permit you to poison a child's mind and cripple his soul. You should hang for what you have done to him since he was born ... you should burn!"
  • Sadist: Nadir mentions that the Khanum takes sexual pleasure in watching Erik kill.
  • Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: Erik at one point.
  • Sexless Marriage: Christine and Raoul end up with this, as giving birth to Charles nearly kills her and the doctor makes it clear that having another baby would finish the job. Raoul, being a staunch Catholic, rejects the idea of birth control and decides there's only one way to make certain Christine's life won't be put in danger again.
  • Shrinking Violet: Christine.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Madeline's husband died while she was pregnant with Erik. Similarly, Christine gives birth to Erik's son after his death.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Averted on several occasions: Marie asks Madeleine not to kill a spider because it "can't help being ugly" and Erik mentions that he feels a certain kinship with spiders ("gorged on her triumph like a glutted spider", feeling jealous of spiders because even though they're ugly they get to mate). Played straight with Christine, who is terrified of a large spider she sees during her fortnight with Erik to the degree that she asks him to also find and kill its mate.
  • Spoiled Brat: Madeleine - which does not help when she has to deal with trying to raise Erik; Luciana - which likewise does not end well when she develops a crush on Erik. Also the Khanum, in a sense, since she often behaves childishly and her life of luxury has definitely turned her rotten.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Charles. And Charles "the second."
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Erik.
  • These Hands Have Killed: After Erik kills Javert, he marvels at how easy it was and goes on to call murder another art for him to master.
  • Together in Death: Erik and Christine.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Erik's life up to his settling in Paris.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Another reason for Madeleine's fear of her son. It troubles Marie too.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Erik faints after the Romani first pull his mask off. He wakes up in a cage.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Madeleine's frustration toward Erik in a nutshell.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: Erik dies the night after he marries Christine.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Erik, no matter his age, being a genius and all.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Erik.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Javert. Erik too, though his reasons were more sympathetic.


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