Phantom Out of the Shadows - Barbara J. Allen

2.5/5 Stars

The premise of this book is a sound one: what if Erik could get plastic surgery and start his life over again. Unfortunately, it goes south almost immediately. The author takes the historical person of Henri Marchand, a sculptor, and turns him into a plastic surgeon -- and sets him in time as an adult 26 years before his actual birth. That's all aside from the fact that the first successful facial reconstruction surgery didn't happen until after World War I, performed by Sir Harold Gillies.

The naming conventions are bizarre, too. Madame Giry's given name is Mame. Other French women are named Lydia and Beth. A French man is named Stephen. Madame Giry is frequently referred to merely as "Giry." The occasional bits of French thrown in for "flavor" are badly misspelled or flat-out wrong, and English knights are referred to as "Sir Cunningham" instead of "Sir William" or what have you. The text is also littered with Americanisms like "okay."

And then there's badly written dialect, like Devon (who is supposed to be Glaswegian), whose vowels are written so broadly that when read aloud his words sound like he grew up in Cumberland. And that's to say nothing of Carlo, the Italian-a tenor-a, who apparently cannot-a say-a a word-a without-a attaching-a an-a a to-a it-a.

Every single time one of these things happened, it took me straight out of the story.

In other words, this book hit just about every one of my pet peeves as a reader (and a couple of them as an author). So, why did I even give it 2.5 stars? Because I came to care about *one* of the characters: the bizarrely named Lydia, a French ballet dancer who is bringing up her son, Jean. I was much more interested in her than in any of the other characters, including this author's version of Erik and Christine. So, here's to Lydia ... and to me moving on to other books.