(Note: This title is for mature readers only. Mild spoilers below.)
Phew, is it hot in here?! This is my second review of a steamy fantasy novel this month!
This romantic fantasy (with the bedroom door very, very open) is a loose retelling of The Phantom of the Opera. With a bewitching theater in a creepy castle and mysterious music floating on the night air, fans of dark fantasy and romance will want to dive right in to Music of the Night.
Orphaned and beholden to the Count cousin who saved her, Aria lives the unglamorous life of a dancer in the Count’s theater. What she really wants to do is sing, if she had the chance—and the training. Seeking to follow in her late mother’s footsteps and avoid the Count marrying her off, Aria finds a teacher when she follows a haunting melody to a supposedly empty tower.
The chemistry between lonely and grieving Aria and the “ghost” of the tower comes on fast and strong (the author is a strong believer in insta-love). You’ll instantly mistrust the Count and never feel Aria is safe at night. It’s deeply creepy in that castle! As gristly murders begin in the castle, the tension grows and Aria’s need to escape to her new teacher becomes more dire.
In a lot of ways, Music of the Night turns the classic “prince comes to the rescue” trope right on its head; the brave knight is in need of a lot of redemption. In that element, Aria’s role pleasantly reminded me of Christine in the beloved musical. While I felt there were some unanswered questions, it’s a short and entertaining read with plenty of atmosphere and a modified fairytale ending.