So I know I am nearly a month late, but The Library Key celebrated its one-year anniversary on May 18th! I’ve reviewed close to fifty titles over the course of this year, but I thought I would do something different to commemorate a whole year of reviews.
My most recent review at that date was for A.G. Howard’s RoseBlood, and as I read that book, I updated my best friend, Megan, on all the frustrations and accidental humor I found. Finally, shortly before I wrote the review, she and I had a conversation not only about RoseBlood, but also about Phantom of the Opera, young adult fiction, Harry Potter and Twilight, among other things. So I thought I would post a transcription of that conversation so you can see the thought process behind the review, and what a lifelong Phan thought of this new retelling.
LK: So, what made you the most disappointed with this book? What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think RoseBlood, A.G. Howard?
Megan: An insult to other source materials it’s based on. That the book does not know whether to make it its own story or try to be truthful to the original book and stage production.
LK: I get that. It’s kind of confusing because you look at this book and it says “A Phantom of the Opera-inspired retelling.” So, with a retelling, you think, “Oh, so we’re just going to get Phantom of the Opera in the twenty-first century, okay, that’s kind of cool.” But then you get what, a quarter of the way through and you realize, “Wait. So Thorn is not the Phantom, nor is Rune Christine. Like, they’re their own separate people, but the Phantom and Christine are actually real people in this universe.” So it’s like, are you trying to be a retelling or are you trying to be a sequel? I don’t know which.
Megan: And especially because there is a mythos of the opera. That’s what everything is based on. And then you have the book, which is the first telling, and then you have all the movies, and then you have the musical. And those are referenced in the book as being concrete, real works of fiction. And then you have those real works of fiction actually being based on reality, unbeknownst to everyone, but also known to the people at the school.
LK: It was amusing because I was reading the author’s notes, and A.G. Howard talks about how she grew to love Phantom of the Opera—how she loves the musical and the book. And it’s like, “Good for you, honey—good for you that you found a fandom that you love so much.” But at the same time, she took too many liberties with how she handled the story. Like, if she loves Phantom of the Opera as much as she does, you would think that she would understand what made the original story work. I mean, for you, why does the original Phantom work so well? Why do you think it has endured as it has over the years?
Megan: Because it’s a story of an outsider who gets to create something beautiful and make its mark on the world while ending in tragedy. It’s a story of love and romance that you know will not succeed, because it can’t.
LK: And why can’t it?
Megan: Because there wouldn’t be happiness in the end. The story chooses its happiest ending, even though it ends in heartbreak. But if they went in the other direction and tried to actually pair Christine and the Phantom together, that wouldn’t be happy either, and it might even end up worse in the long run, because the Phantom loses Christine in all versions. But if he actually, really has her, and then loses her, that wouldn’t be good, and everything that Christine would know, she would probably be secluded from or banned from.
LK: Well, as you know, I couldn’t get through the original book because it was a little too slow. I mean, I did enjoy reading about the Phantom’s lair, and who he was as a character. I liked seeing him without his mask. Like, he wasn’t just some pretty Michael Crawford or Gerard Butler: he was the Phantom, with the skull face and the decaying flesh and all that—that was awesome! And, the Phantom does some despicable things across the story. He murders, he strangles, he blackmails—he does all this horrible, immoral stuff that we cannot condone at all. But there’s still something really alluring about him. Not just because he is a mystery to the opera house, but also because he is a genius. He’s gifted with architecture, gifted with music—there is something almost superhuman about him that, at the same time, is not supernatural.
Megan: Which is why it couldn’t work out. He couldn’t get everything. He is gifted, but he would probably suffer from being that gifted.
Megan: It would almost be too clichéd if the non-pretty person gets the girl of his dreams and succeeds. It’s the love story that you want to happen, but logically and realistically, it probably shouldn’t happen.
LK: I find it funny that you say that because—and you might agree with this—Phantom of the Opera is a very cheesy, melodramatic story that almost doesn’t run on logic. You know, everything’s so over-the-top and grand that you would almost expect for something as illogical and the Phantom and Christine being together to happen.
Megan: It’s also why I think she does get so enamored with him, besides thinking that the Phantom is the spirit of her father or even the Angel of Music. I think she gets swept up in the absurdity of it all, and the grandness of it all. And everything breaks down in the Final Lair when he brings logic into the picture, and is like, “Either you stay here forever, and I’ll let your lover go, or you can be free, and your lover will die.” Right then and there, he brings reality back into the picture, takes away the grandness, and leaves it just bare-bones: either way, this is going to end badly. And she finds the third road by showing him kindness even after everything he has done because she realizes, even though he is this grand master of music and architecture and everything else (depending on what version you’re going with), beneath it all, he is still a man. Because everyone always states, Erik the Phantom is always still just human. And with that, he realizes he cannot take her down either of those roads, because he ultimately wants her to be happy. Watching the musical, I always thought the story shows its most basic human elements in the Final Lair. It’s just a couple of people’s choices and then the result of those choices.
LK: I feel kind of bad for A.G. Howard because she makes it very clear in the endnotes how much she loves this story and these characters, but for her to give this kind of approach to these characters…she’s trying to reinvent them, but at the same time, she’s taking them twenty steps back—
Megan: Wait, one question real quick. Who does Rune wind up with at the end?
LK: I wish I could remember at this point. She doesn’t end up with the “Raoul” character; he kind of disappears in the background halfway through the story. Thorn actually disappears at the end. I forget what his fate is—probably because I stopped caring at some point—but it’s a typical Phantom of the Opera ending. They go through the whole book saying, “Oh, we’re destined to be lovers, nothing can ever tear us apart, gasp,” and yet, at the very end, they wind up going their separate ways, just like the Phantom and Christine do.
Megan: And yet, she ends up with somebody, who was like a random, what, fourth party or third party?
LK: As far as I remember, she winds up alone. She kind of goes right back to where she started.
Megan: Okay. Because, no matter what version you’re looking at, either the book or the musical, I never felt that it was a “we’re destined to be together” thing. It was more the Phantom loves Christine for her voice, and who she is as a person. She is enthralled with him because he gives her support in so many ways: as a father figure, as a mentor, as a teacher, as a music lover that can connect with her probably more than any other person that she knows. But I never thought that it was a forced “this is what we’re destined to be.” It’s just written as they have a very strong connection, but it’s believable. It’s weird and sometimes wrong, but, I mean, what, the dude’s, like, sixty, in the story?
LK: Something or other.
Megan: Sixteen, eighteen, something like that. There’s a big age difference.
LK: Well, the book goes quite into detail about how close in age the Phantom and Christine actually were. Some sources say they were twenty years apart, others say they were actually twelve. So, depending on what the sources say, their age difference is up for debate. But yeah, if the original Phantom had that layer of destiny, it probably would have made it so melodramatic and so over-the-top that it would have broken itself. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been a fan of that trope. Like, only two people in this whole world are destined to be together, and if they don’t wind up together, then that’s it for them.
Megan: I don’t mind that trope as much. I guess I just have to read each story to enjoy it for what it is.
LK: I think I just find it really discomforting, especially when it comes to romantic relationships that were destined to just be with one person—you know, the literal concept of a soul mate—like there is only one person in this entire world meant just for you, and if they’re out of the picture then you’re done. You’ll never have another person in your life again. I mean, I think it depends on how much emphasis you put on that relationship. If such a relationship is the end-all-be-all part of the book, and they hammer it in your face, and you’re like, ‘Okay, I get it, you’re soul mates, you’re destined to be together and all that crap, whatever!” Because I’ll be frank. I think I’ve yet to come across a book with as empty a relationship as this one. I’ve read some romance books in my time, but at least those books took the time to establish other relationships, establish the setting. With RoseBlood, at least 85% of the book is just Thorn or Rune waxing romantic about each other, like, “Gasp, I saw him in my dreams, they came to me again,” and all that s***. Yes—yes, this book drove me to curse. It was like, “Dudes, get over yourselves! Get the f*** over yourselves!” I have no idea what drew these two characters together, and one of the last conversations these characters have… All this s*** has happened to them, right—they’ve made it through, they’ve made it through the end of the picture. And they sit down together, and Thorn is like, “Well, now we can have those real conversations with you, like ‘What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite movie?” And I’m like, “So, you’re telling me that you guys have had ten-plus years of dreaming about each other, talking to each other, getting to know each other, and you don’t even know the f***ing basics of your relationship? Like, what the f*** is wrong with you??” I was at work while I was reading that chapter and I had to really refrain from going [puts face in a pillow and groans really loudly].
Megan: You did that to me via text.
LK: Many times. Too many times to count. It’s been a long time since a book made me that angry. Like, “A.G. Howard, do you have any idea how to write chemistry? I mean, you’re a bestselling author, so clearly there’s a market for your work—good for you, it’s hard to make the New York Times Bestseller list, I got you. But for God’s sakes! Certainly you can write teenage chemistry better than this s***.”
Megan: You actually got through it. I got angry enough at the point of the third chapter, I believe, when we see Thorn, and I was out the door.
LK: Well, like I told you before, I think it’s because you have a much deeper emotional connection to Phantom of the Opera than I do. I barely got through the book and I only know parts of the soundtrack—that’s the extent of my knowledge of Phantom. Whereas you, you’ve had years and years to memorize the soundtrack, memorize the mythos. So because I don’t have as much of an emotional connection with these characters, I can be, “Well, okay, I guess I can see where this is going. I might not be very happy with it, but I’ll still see where it goes.”
Megan: I think it was just, in the third chapter, with the Phantom character being out and open in the daylight, I was like, “It breaks so many rules.”
LK: Oh, there are so many inconsistencies with that stuff. And also just a lot of stuff that is really weird. For example, when I hear the word “familiar,” I don’t think of a vampire or an incubus having a familiar. I think of a witch. Howard tries to shoehorn that “Oh, the Phantom’s familiar is a swan, and it’s named Ange—cause, angel, Ange, you get it, kiddies?”
Megan: On a side note, I’m watching a vampire show right now, and they actually have human familiars to do their bidding in the daylight.
LK: Well, okay, that makes sense. If you literally cannot go out into the sun during the day, then you need someone to help you out, so that’s actually really cool. But for them to have animal familiars, that’s almost like…
Megan: Well, you said that they are psychic vampires, so…
LK: Still the most f***ing stupid name I’ve ever heard for a vampire, because I still think the reason she went with that name was because “Oh, succubi aren’t trendy or sexy. Maybe instead I can call them ‘psychic vampires’ because vampires are still trendy and sexy, huh?’ It’s almost kind of an insult to vampires because they’ve gone through some s*** in the last decade, so for them to be saddled with attributes that don’t match with a vampire…like, yeah, succubi suck things from people, but they don’t suck blood, they suck life force. So, why don’t you just f***ing call them a succubus or incubus? Because succubi and incubi can be sexy as long as you paint them in the right light. But what you’re doing is, you’re only further sullying the name of “vampire” by trying to shoehorn it with the attributes of an incubus. That’s also really inconsistent: sometimes, they call themselves “psychic vampires,” sometimes they call themselves just “vampires,” like, keep your f***ing names straight, why don’t you? You’ll notice I was really peeved at this book; it was driving me to drop the F bomb.
Megan: I know! I’m just enjoying how unraveled you’re becoming.
LK: I just can’t get behind a romance where we know next to nothing about these characters. There are so many scenes in this book that I would have really wanted to see: I want to see some of these dream sequences, I want to see them have conversations with each other, and a conversation that does not revolve around, “Oh, you’re my soul mate, we’re destined for each other”—it was disgusting, actually. Like I said, get over yourselves, you idiots.
Megan: I shoved aside RoseBlood, reread the Twilight series, and I was actually quite happy with it.
LK: I was going to say, in comparison to RoseBlood?
Megan: Oh yeah.
LK: And speaking of wish fulfillment, oh boy, RoseBlood had heaps of that—heaps and heaps. I’m still trying to understand the notion that this is an exclusive music conservatory in France and yet, there isn’t a single mention of a predominantly French student. I understand that this school is small—only fifty students allowed—but you’re telling me that not one student here is French? It was weird.
Megan: I’m thinking too logically about this, but how would that work? Why not just set this in America?
LK: I think, in that case, they wouldn’t be able to talk about the weekend trips into Paris, which, even then, they kind of forget about those after a while: “Oh, wait, we’re in Paris? Okay, weekend trip, weekend trip!” So, I just think it’s wish fulfillment for all these American kids to just be plopped in France, have access to Paris every weekend, and go to this fantastic place that is somehow connected to the Phantom. But why not just set this school in America and have it be, you know, inspired by French architecture?
Megan: Well, even if you wanted to do the psychic vampire thing, they can be set anywhere, because Thorn, Phantom, whoever, both, can infiltrate people’s minds from anywhere. If it’s…okay, too much logic.
LK: Actually, I think the only reason it is set in France is because they have an excuse to talk about the catacombs, and all these dank underground historical pieces of Paris that Thorn is involved with. They talk about his childhood, where he was raised just by his mother, and she had to sell her body to support him. And that was probably one of the few parts of the book where I was actually invested. He’s in this dire situation, and she’s doing her best as a single career woman trying to support her only son by selling her body—that was a legitimately sad upbringing.
Megan: Now we’re going into Les Miserables.
LK: I was actually thinking of Fantine when I was reading that part. And maybe that’s why I felt so emotional because I’m thinking of Fantine trying to raise a little boy by herself and that is legitimately sad. But then again, we probably could have done that backstory just by going into Thorn’s mind instead of having to shoehorn some excuse to have the story take place in France.
Megan: He could just say, “This is my backstory.”
LK: But kind of going back to the wish fulfillment, I can see what A.G. Howard was trying to do with Rune. Like, obviously, she’s got the attributes of Christine: she’s got the voice, she’s got the beauty, the helpless aspect where she’s put in situations where she doesn’t have the most power. But at the same time, she’s also a little, how do I say this, saintly? Like, there’s a part of the book where she stumbles onstage during auditions for the school’s opera. And because her voice is so good, they’re like, “Okay, you might have crashed the audition, but we’re still going to give you the part because your voice is so damn good.” And inadvertently, she winds up stealing the role from a girl who eventually becomes her friend. So eventually, Rune is like, “Oh, I never even wanted this role, you can just have it.”
Megan: I never found Rune—okay, I’m still rolling my eyes at that name. I couldn’t find her very likable, even in the first chapters I read.
LK: Well, because she kept going back and forth about whether she even had a good relationship with her mom. Which, by the way—so, the book tries push Thorn and Rune’s relationship, obviously, but they also try to push the fact that Rune is so close to her mom. And we don’t even see any conversations between them. She gets pushed into the background. So, A.G. Howard, if you want to have your audience feel this connection between your characters, why don’t you f***ing show it?? All you do is tell us these details. We don’t know what the heck is going on because you don’t show these conversations, you don’t show these relationships blooming—you just tell us that they are. Now, in some scenarios, that would work just fine. Telling, in a story, sometimes you have to move things really quickly so you can get to the heat of the story, but because A.G. Howard is focusing so much on the wrong stuff, we don’t know jack s*** about these characters’ relationships. Which is sad because relationships are what make a story work! We can’t follow these characters if we don’t know anything about them, except for maybe one or two superficial characteristics. All right, carry on.
Megan: I don’t know exactly where to pick up from there.
LK: There is also just a lot happening in this book. So, on the one hand, you have Thorn’s side of the story, and his deal with the Phantom. You have Rune’s relationships with her friends. And then you have the Phantom’s story, where the book dives into his story, and we sort of see how he is going to mess all this up. So, Howard has all these angles that she’s trying to push, probably to make the story more complex, but it just makes it feel a lot more muddled. And because she puts so much focus on Rune and Thorn’s relationship, the other characters just get lost in the shuffle and we don’t know anything about them, and therefore we don’t care about them either. Because Rune and Thorn are such s*** characters, you would hope for someone else in the mix to be compelling or funny or interesting in any way. But nope. Just cardboard cutout extras filling the space behind the two leads. I mean, there has to be more to the characters than just whatever destiny shoehorns them together. Which, I think, is my problem with stories that deal with destiny and fate, because it pushes the characters into situations or it pushes them to do things that they probably wouldn’t do. And the only reason they do it is because “the prophecy” or “the destiny” said it would happen. The plot drives the characters more than the characters drive the characters, if that makes sense.
Megan: That is a common complaint with a lot of prophecy storylines.
LK: Well, sometimes that kind of story can actually be interesting. Every time someone brings up a prophecy story I point to either Harry Potter or the Chronicles of Narnia stories because those prophecies aren’t the driving force of the story. They were introduced halfway through so that, by the time we got to the idea of the prophecy, we already knew the characters and we already liked the characters and we wanted to follow them.
Megan: And in Harry Potter, you had people moving the story forward themselves. Yes, there is a prophecy, but you’re making it move forward to become reality, rather than people just believing it and it happening.
LK: It makes me think of the old Nostalgia Critic review of Alice in Wonderland, where they roll out the oraculum and he’s like, “Wait a minute. Who came up with these prophecies? Where does that scroll even come from? Who is saying that they actually have to follow through with it?”
Megan: At least in Harry Potter, we know who says it, we know what the prophecy is, we know where it came from, and we know what people are doing to ensure that it actually happens and succeeds in the way that everybody wants it do.
LK: Well, also just the convenience of Thorn and Rune’s souls being Christine’s—of all people, it was Christine? The idea of a soul miraculously splitting in two just seemed a little over the top.
Megan: I’d be okay with it, if it was just Rune—like a reincarnation. Like, even if she was related to Christine. Or something magical—like the spirit of Christine is trapped in the monkey music box. Something to make it a bit more logical, believable.
LK: It’s almost like introducing logic in Wonderland: you can’t put logic in Phantom of the Opera, it just messes the whole thing up. It probably would have been more interesting if Thorn happened to get involved in the adventures. If maybe he wasn’t involved with the Phantom at all—maybe he was just some Parisian orphan who just happened to wander close to the opera house and that was how he and Rune met. Rune could still be the Chosen One because she is the reincarnation of Christine, but Thorn could just randomly get involved because he was in the right place at the right time.
Megan: Or maybe he could have been the Raoul character.
LK: Mmm…never been the biggest Raoul fan, so….
Megan: It depends. I don’t mind Raoul because he was always the friend and childhood romance of Christine. So they had a connection way before the Phantom stuff happened, and even before her father died.
LK: He also sort of represents the dichotomy between good and evil, and safety and seduction.
Megan: Yeah, because, at the end of things, she still wants Raoul, because she almost loses Raoul.
LK: There was also something about the way Howard described Thorn and his physical aspects. Obviously, he walks around campus wearing the mask because he is the Phantom’s protégé and that’s just, I guess, what he does.
Megan: Is he scarred?
LK: Nope. Nope. Actually, he’s pretty much an Adonis: beautiful eyes, high cheekbones, long luscious hair—he’s basically a Michelangelo sculpture hiding behind a mask.
Megan: Hey, he’s Edward.
LK: Oh…he is. Although, hmm, let’s see, yeah: vampire, good-looking, stalker, way too good for his own good.
Megan: Didn’t this come out after Twilight?
LK: Yeah, this was in 2017.
Megan: Okay, yeah.
LK: I forget who said this, but somebody complained once upon a time about the fact that YA is less of a crop of good stories and more one of fantasies. That’s why all these protagonists are so good-looking or why these stories feel so clichéd is because, whether it’s the authors writing them or the readers reading them, they’re not there for the story. They’re there for the wish fulfillment—getting involved with this bad boy with a tragic backstory who needs to be nourished back to health, or loved back to health.
Megan: It’s funny. With Twilight, Edward is being too hard on himself for being what he was, but I never got the feeling that Bella was trying to “fix” him.
Megan: Yes, he had faults too, but for his moral compass, he was trying pretty decently to do good…ish.
LK: [laughs] Ish.
Megan: [laughs] Yeah, ish.
LK: I get oddly suspicious when a love interest is described as unbelievably beautiful. Is that the only reason we should care about them: just because they are beautiful?
Megan: I’m looking at my bookshelf…Most of it’s a good amount of fluff. Cause it’s comforting. I enjoy the complex stories—I have Game of Thrones sitting down there. I have a number of mystery series because I like the complexities of that. But I have a lot of fluff, so teenagers do enjoy a lot of fluff in general.
LK: Well, I think that’s because when you’re fifteen or sixteen, you’re not really thinking too hard about the complexities of relationships, familial or otherwise. You’re kind of just there for the sweeping adventure that’ll take you away from your ordinary life.
Megan: Because teenage relationships normally are not complex. You don’t have jobs, you’re not in a higher level of education, you’re normally living with your family, most things are taken care of for you, so most teenage relationships are fluffy in their own right.
LK: So, in that case, how do you feel when a YA book tells its teenage protagonist that this one person you’ve never met before is your “true love”? More times than I wish I could say, Thorn says, “We’re not just destined to be together, you’re also my true love.” Which, I guess when you’re a teenager that’s all well and good, because it’s a fantasy, it’s dreamlike. But at the same time, it also sets up expectations for real life. You can dream about that but it still sets an expectation for how you eventually want things to turn out. So, hopefully, as you grow up, you start to get the mindset of “Okay, I like this, but maybe it’s not necessarily going to come to pass.” Which is why I think it’s so interesting looking back at YA as an adult, because, wow, I can’t believe we read this stuff when we were teenagers. But then again, that was the stuff that we liked.
Megan: I also think that we have to put ourselves in our own perspective because, at that point in life, we haven’t been thrown around as much as most adults have.
LK: That’s true.
Megan: And that’s why I say, even reading Twilight again ten years later at twenty-five, I still find it enjoyable, even though I can point out its flaws and I can see, oh, this is a bit far-fetched, but I can still enjoy it for what it is. Like I think I told you this once before when you went on an epic tirade against Twilight, I said, “Not everything has to be a work of art.”
LK: Lord knows, Lord knows.
Megan: Not everything is going to be this epic masterpiece that will change the world, because we need different things at different points in our lives.
LK: I just marvel at the choices that writers sometimes make. Like, sometimes there are points that an author might want to get across but they get it completely wrong. I do believe A.G. Howard tried to do good by Phantom, if reading her notes and acknowledgements is any indication. But it’s almost like, “Honey, did you even consider what you were doing with this?”
Megan: I think if she loved it so much she should have almost made it into a world where the book and the musical do not exist. She should not have acknowledged the fictional tales. She acknowledges the original history that those things were created from, but I don’t think she should have referenced—especially when Rune says, “That’s the place where ‘All I Ask of You’ was sung” or something. If she tried to just state that this is the world as it is, it would have been a bit more realistic, I think.
LK: Again, I saw the term “retelling” on the cover, so I just assumed it was literally going to be The Phantom of the Opera but with modern characters. I thought Rune was going to be Christine or that Thorn was going to be the Phantom. But because it turns out that the Phantom is a real character and he has this take-over-this-girl’s-body plot so he can dissect Christine’s soul out of her, it’s like, wow, you threw me for a loop, book, and not necessarily in a good way.
Megan: Also, the only true shred of humanity that the Phantom has left is when he is kind enough to let Christine go at the end, and let her live her life. And she does. She lives with Raoul, she has kids, and then she dies later. But that is just one moment of true kindness, because when he teaches her to sing, I don’t think he’s doing it just to make her better. He’s doing it because he has someone to control, somebody to mold, somebody to use his gift through. When he takes her down to the lair for the first time, in the musical, he tells her, like, “You are here to sing for me the music that I wrote—that is your sole purpose.”
LK: “Since the moment I first heard you sing, I have needed you with me, to serve me, to sing my music.”
Megan: Yeah, and the one time he actually is like, “Hey, I’m doing this girl wrong, I’m going to let her and lover live.” So, for him to come back and actually recapture Christine, that’s not being kind to her.
LK: Like you said, it’s almost like taking back everything that the original story built up to. The original book was saving that moment of pure humanity for the climax, because things have been building up to this point, to where the Phantom is like, “I’ve had enough, you’re coming with me,” and then finally, when things just pop, he’s like, “Okay, go ahead, I’ve had enough, I’m tired.” So the psychic vampire thing s***s on everything that made the Phantom a compelling character. First of all, he was already a genius; you didn’t need to add the element of this supernatural creature who needed a familiar to do his bidding for him—he had himself to do that for him. And you didn’t need for him to have this plan to take Christine back, because he let her go. So, okay, Phantom, you’ve done your part, now leave well enough alone.
Megan: When Christine kissed him in the end, I don’t think she chose him; I think she just showed him acceptance for the first time.
LK: Yeah, definitely.
Megan: That was the moment where he felt acceptance and he could do something good.
LK: I’m trying to remember the lyrics that she sings right before she kisses him. Like, um…
Megan: “Pitiful creature of darkness, what kind of life have you known?” Um…
LK: Oh, “God give me courage to show you you are not alone.”
Megan: “Alone.” Yeah.
Megan: Yeah. So, I don’t think it’s in a self-sacrificing move. I think it’s just out of kindness. She shows him kindness and he shows her kindness in return, to a shocked audience. Also, is the Phantom still deformed in this?
LK: Yep. Oh, God, it’s incredible how many times Thorn describes the yellow papery flesh coming off his skull-like face. At least RoseBlood stuck to the original description of the Phantom, I will give it that.
Megan: Well, it’s like, if Thorn would have had the Phantom’s spirit be reincarnated, and Rune…what kind of name is that? What is the basis for that?
LK: They never say. She’s just Rune.
Megan: I need to look into that, what does that name mean?
LK: Well, you know what a rune is? It’s a symbol—a representation of a word, an idea. Usually, they have a magical element to them. The magical element makes sense because, you know, it was probably magic that put Christine’s into Rune’s body. But yeah, Rune…that’s almost the kind of name that’s like, “I’m begging to be unique. Say I’m unique!”
Megan: But even if they named her, like, Melody or something—
LK: Melody would have been too on the nose.
Megan: Too on the nose, but I would have accepted it more because it fits in with the clichéd plotline.
LK: Which is why it makes sense for Thorn’s name, because a thorn is part of a rose, and a rose is one of the many symbols of Phantom of the Opera. Because the Phantom himself had the rose with the black ribbon on it, so…that’s the Phantom, I believe that.
Megan: It’s like a rose, a mask—those are the two biggest symbols of the show, besides the chandelier.
LK: Oh, Lord, they go places with the chandelier, just because, Phantom of the Opera—it has to include all the major symbols no matter how silly it is.
Megan: I’m almost figuring out ways of how to possibly make this book better, even though that’s not my job. Just, like, if they did this or this or this, it might have been easier.
LK: Well, the original work is enjoyable in how over-the-top it is because there are some Gothic elements of destiny and fate and all that. But at least it never draws attention to that stuff. It’s kind of just there for you to notice. But with this, they shove the Gothic romantic atmosphere in your face so much, that it’s like, “Shut up and shove off!” So, pretty much, Phantom of the Opera is a spectacle, but it’s a spectacle for you to take pieces from and enjoy on your own. RoseBlood is still a spectacle, but it’s pointing into the wings, like, “Oh, look at all these pretty little tricks, aren’t we clever?”