Audiobook Review: Phantom Heart

Published August 17th 2021

Author: Kelly Creagh

Narrators: Emily Ellet, Tom Berkeley, & Michael Crouch

Audiobook Length: 13 hours 42 minute

Seventeen-year-old Stephanie Armand doesn’t believe in ghosts or spirits. Despite her six-year-old sister, Charlie, insisting a masked figure is hiding in her closet, and the rumors at school, Stephanie isn’t convinced her father’s latest renovation project–a crumbling Victorian mansion–houses the soul of a monster. So when the very charming (and paranormal obsessed) Lucas Cheney takes an interest in both Stephanie and her notorious home, the supernatural and romantic activity escalates to an all-time high. And that doesn’t even take into account the dashing, British-accented eighteen-year-old boy, Erik, who’s taken up residence in Stephanie’s nightly dreams. A boy who may have something to do with the man in the mask, and the strange occurrences taking place at Moldavia.

Phantom Heart is a Phantom of the Opera young adult retelling. As POTO is one of my top musicals and I loved the book, I went into this with very high expectations. It is not clear if this is a duology, a series, or a standalone as there are some sources that show all scenarios. The ending of the story is satisfying enough for this to be a standalone while paving the way for a potential sequel. I could easily picture a storyline for the sequel in my head to make this a duology. The author takes the original tale and reimagines it as a young adult love triangle set in modern day South US within a seemingly haunted house and a curse.

The story is told through the perspectives of the three main characters, mainly Stephanie, Erik/Zedok, and followed by some from Lucas. Stephanie lives in an old house that is rumored to be haunted as her father bought it to renovate. At her school she has a crush on Lucas, who begins hanging out at Stephanie’s house with his group of friends as they are interested in being paranormal investigators. The mysterious presence her new home begins with an unexplained boy appearing in the closet of Stephanie’s younger sister, Charlie. The boy begins appearing in Stephanie’s mind and the Phantom aspect of the story begins with this mystery.

As a Phantom retelling/reimagining, there are two main storylines – the mystery of Erik and the love triangle. For me, the mystery aspect was well-done with a horror/gothic feel.  It was interesting to see the curse that surrounds Erik and how Lucas/Stephanie go ghost-hunting to try and figure out what is happening in the house. The romance angle is where the story lost me as I could not to connect to either connection. Towards the end of the novel when Stephanie and Erik begin to spend more time together, I could see a connection. They had an initial spark when they first began interacting, but there was not as much build-up as I expected. On the other hand, Lucas and Stephanie bonded over their love of ghost-hunting, but, again, I could not sense a connection.

Overall, I loved the audiobook version of novel with the three narrators and the additional sound effects. I do not think that I would have enjoyed this story as much if I read the book version. There are some subplots with some of the characters, such as Lucas, that felt more like tangents than being relevant to the story. For me, I think this story would have been more effective if it was told solely through Stephanie’s point of view. Erik and Lucas were both very interesting characters, but I think I would have liked to spend the pages delving deeper into Stephanie’s mind as she goes through these experiences. This was an interesting take on a classic well-known story. While there were some flaws, for me, it was an enjoyable novel.

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