17 July 2014

Tour Stop (Review): Phantom's Dance - Lesa Howard + Giveaway


Phantom's Dance - Lesa Howard
Publication Date: March 1st 2014


Synopsis:
Christine Dadey’s family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. Now, two years later, Christine struggles to compete among the Academy’s finest dancers, her parents are on the brink of divorce, and she’s told no one about her debilitating performance anxiety and what she’s willing to do to cope with it.

Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world’s stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik’s face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he’s lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine.

Drawn in by Erik’s unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik’s declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be. But Christine’s hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik’s shadowy past jeopardizes Christine’s unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.


Review
Phantom's Dance is an extremely contemporary take on the classic tale of The Phantom of the Opera, where opera singing has been replaced by the challenging world of ballet as the main focus. Christine is still a teenage girl, but instead of being an orphan, she has a dysfunctional family. Only the title character and the two lovers are instantly recognisable from the original, and even then, the characters are altered; instead of Raoul being a Count, he is now a quarterback on a football team, for example. Just a tiny bit cliche, but I let it slide because he slotted into the story really nicely that way.

I don't want to talk about how appropriate the content was to the audience, the way that dancing was used very nicely in conjunction with the original theatre setting or the way in which the story goes off at a few teen-relevant tangents which makes it much more than what the original was. No. I want to talk about a few things that really jumped out at me when I finished the book.

It is amazing how something as simple as a change of time and place in a story can change the way you look at it, and nothing is more true than in the depiction of the phantom. The stark truth of my favourite romantic anti-hero is that he is a psychopathic stalker. My opinion of him in this book greatly and disturbingly differed to the opinion I had formed both in reading the original and in watching his portrayal on screen, where his acts are entirely more heinous. Maybe the fact that this could easily happen in reality was lost on me until the story became more realistic to me. Maybe the eerie scenery of the opera and the glamour of the musical masked (pun completely intended) the horror of the man himself, or maybe it was the fact that this particular Phantom had not been born with his disfigurement, and therefore this made him worse in my book. I don't know, but it did really hit home for me.

This book raises some serious issues about strangers, stalkers, harassment, drugs and rape, and is everything that I could have hoped for. The strange quality of the story seeps through the veneer of teen self-obsessiveness and right into the mind of the reader, no matter what their age is. Although some of the scenes are shocking, teen readers need to read it, if only to understand what kind of dangers they are faced with if they are not careful and keep too many secrets. However, it is not just a lesson, the book is a nicely written and well-considered teen read, with plenty of aspects that give it that contemporary feel.

A great introduction to the world of the Phantom, very relevant and very suitable for YA and older teens.


Author Bio:
I'm not the typical author. I didn't always enjoy reading or writing. While in school, I found it to be a chore I'd just as soon skip. I would rather have been daydreaming, my favorite past time. It wasn’t until I grew up and didn’t have to, that I realized reading was fun. I soon discovered that reading fueled my daydreaming. So, remembering a short story I'd written in high school, I began imagining expanding that story into a book. Before long I found I had loads of ideas for not just the short story but other books and stories as well. Fast forward a few years, a lot of studying about writing, practicing my writing, studying some more, taking classes from people who knew what they were doing, studying and practicing yet more, and ta-dah, author! In the same way I had learned I loved reading, I learned I loved writing, too. It’s just that writing is a lot harder than reading.

Author links: 


This is an international, tour-wide giveaway, ending July 29th for a Signed copy of the book, a Phantom mask, a Dahlia from the Phantom and a $20 gift card for a book seller of your choice.


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