For those Phans like myself who crave more after reading Gaston Leroux’s original novel, The Phantom of the Opera, there’s Sharon E. Cathcart’s novels. Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes: The Omnibus Edition is actually a compilation of two novels and a collection of short stories. If purchased separately, they consist of the following:
- In the Eye of the Beholder
- In the Eye of the Storm
- Through the Opera Glass
Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes: The Omnibus Edition contains all of these in the aforementioned order. However, the author herself stated that they don’t necessarily have to be read in that order. I would advise reading In the Eye of the Beholder before reading In the Eye of the Storm. However, if you happen not to, it’s no big deal because the author is conscious of making it so that readers who haven’t read her first book are quickly brought up to speed in her second one.
The Through the Opera Glass book is the one that’s a collection of short stories, so it can certainly be read any time you wish. However, I think that it provides for a richer reading experience when you read all the books in the order listed. After doing so, I believe you’ll understand why I say this.
That said, on to the review…
Let’s begin with Claire. She’s the first character we’re introduced to in In the Eye of the Beholder, and she’s the principal character throughout the first novel, although she certainly remains a prominent one in the other novel and the short story collection as well. Claire is not your typical, simpering Victorian lady. She’s a strong, independent woman (as much as society would allow anyways), and she’s got a good head on her shoulders. She knows how to think for herself, and she’s obviously very different from the naive child (Christine Daae) who our notorious Phantom, Erik, had fallen in love with previously.
I absolutely loved Claire! She was a refreshing change, and although I have stated that she was a strong woman, she had her moments of vulnerability as well, all of which worked together to make her quite a realistic and believable character. Although her moral compass was certainly rooted, she also went outside the realm of what society at that point in time deemed acceptable. She stood up for what she believed in, and her compassion knew no bounds.
Our Phantom, as well, was a greatly developed character. He wasn’t quite as darkly depicted as some Phantoms are, but he wasn’t too vulnerable either. Instead, I believe he was the perfect mix of dark and light, making him believably human.
Fiction that Makes a Statement
Sharon’s Phantom tales are more than just sappy Phan phiction. Not only do they offer a realistic continuation of the beloved tale of the Phantom of the Opera, but they also reference real historical events and contain a essence of realism that you don’t get from the everyday fiction book. Her novels not only weave a delightful story for our Phantom, but they also illuminate real life issues, such as the plight of women living in a male-oriented society, the cruelty of mankind, and the injustice of inequality, just to name a few.
I particularly loved how the author would take a certain issue that she feels strongly about and weave it into her novels in such a way that highlights the injustice of the topic and prompts the reader to feel that same injustice. For instance, without giving too much of the storyline away, I will reveal that Claire is rendered virtually penniless when her cousin is given control over her inheritance simply because he is the closest male relation to her. As we learn of how that injustice affected Claire’s life, we, as readers, feel for the plight of women who were restricted by the constraints of their sex.
Beyond that, I will say no more, other than that I highly recommend these books to any Phan. These Phantom books not only entertain, but they teach as well, highlighting societal issues that some people still deal with today. Also, the author very considerately included a glossary of terms in her books so that those who are unfamiliar with certain equestrian and French terms she used in her writing can look up their meanings for better understanding. I, for one, greatly appreciated this, for I would have never know what some of the foreign terms meant otherwise.
Not only is Sharon E. Cathcart an author, but she’s an award-winning one at that. Like her character, Claire, Sharon is also a very generous soul. She frequently hosts e-book giveaways and such, and she’s a delight to interact with. To contact Sharon or learn more about her published works, go her author website and/or her Facebook fan page.