It was definitely my pleasure to read Phantom: The Immortal by Mitzi Szereto and Ashley Lister, though I’ll be honest in that I didn’t quite know what I was getting into with this before I started. Though my work featured in books by both Mitzi and Ashley, I hadn’t read anything they’d written before Phantom. I’ll certainly be checking out more from them in the future.
Before I get into it, I’ll say this: I do love a good Phantom adaptation, but they’re not easy to find. that’s not to say adaptations of Gaston LeRoux’s book are scarce, because there are a lot of them, but note I said a good Phantom adaptation. The majority are Mary Sue fanfics in which Erik meets yet another beautiful soprano in present day and it all begins again with some sex thrown in. Ugh.
Not this one. Oh boy, not this one.
It begins with a snippet from the diaries of Christine Daae in which she finally consummates her love affair with the unnamed Phantom, and then the story immediately introduces us to a new Christine at an auction house, where she both bids on Christine the First’s diaries and meets a new Compte. Through his string-pulling, she finds herself at the very same opera house where Christine I met her Angel of Music, and it doesn’t take long for Christine II to capture the Angel’s attention.
There’s so much to love in this adaptation. Giry, the descendant of Mme Giry, is a gay man with clear feelings for the Opera Ghost and, though obedient, doesn’t shy away from getting his digs in at Christine in the hopes of discouraging the Phantom’s infatuation. Like Christine I, this one is torn between the Compte and the Phantom, but unlike Christine Daae, it’s clear where this Christine’s true desires lie and her head isn’t turned by a pretty face and lots of money. My favourite part of this story is the Phantom’s background. I won’t give anything away, but I preferred this explanation to all others put forth, including the original.
As for the smutty bits, they’re not overdone. The Phantom’s penchant for bondage is there, but it’s doesn’t overrule all the other action in the book. Phantom: The Immortal is a fully-fleshed addition to Phantom-inspired literature, and while I do think it could have been longer, it was a welcome addition and a very fun read. I absolutely hope Mitzi and Ashley take on a few more of the classics together.