Book Review

Unmasqued: An Erotic Novel of The Phantom of the Opera


Title: Unmasqued: An Erotic Novel of the Phantom of the Opera
Author: Colette Gale
Publication Info: Signet Eclipse August 2007
ISBN: 0451221370
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Colette Gale’s Unmasqued is a retelling of the story of The Phantom of the Opera which adds erotic sexual scenes, a good dose of BDSM, and a whole new ending. The dedication reads, “To all the women who thought Christine should have stayed with the Phantom.”

My reaction: this is a seriously dark, kinky, sex-driven story, and while I never read or saw Phantom, I can see how Gale had ample room to play with the themes of forbidden love, sexual tension, and sexual control in the original story. Myself, I don’t like musicals much and when I was 14, most of my teenage friends were obsessed and over the moon about Phantom. I never got into it. I’ve never read the Leroux novel, either, so my reaction to this erotic recasting of the story differs greatly from other reviews online. For some people, this story is a childhood favorite, a romance that is part of a cherished memory, and for that reason, I think, Gale’s retelling upsets people both because of the sexual content AND because the content is placed within a storyline that is held sacred by some readers.

First, I’ll talk about my review, then I have to examine the other reviews as well, because some of them really raised my eyebrows.

In Unmasqued, the setup of the story is nearly identical to the original Phantom. Christine Daaé is a young soprano at the opera who has lost her passion for singing. She finds herself tutored by Erik, the “Phantom” of the opera house, and when the lead singer, Carlotta, cannot go on stage one night, Christine fills in, and astonishes everyone with the purity of her voice. She captures the attention of Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, and he pursues her, even as Erik continues to woo Christine through their tutoring sessions.

The character of Christine is a curious mix of sexual curiosity and insipid innocence. Gale makes an effort to set Christine apart from the other singers and dancers. While they have “protectors” and certainly view sexual commerce as part of their way to make a living, Christine, though not a virgin, does not want a protector, and through her wish to remain sexually independent, a sheen of some purity or nobility is added to her character. Her body is not part of her career, or for commercial gain.

Christine finds herself attracted to both Erik and Raoul, who is also a childhood friend, and has to balance her time between both men. Christine herself is not terribly bright and allows things to happen to her more than she takes any initiative, which leads to some submissive roles for Christine and several almost violent sexual encounters with Raoul, his brother Philippe, and Erik. Make no mistake: this book contains some seriously dark erotic content, and is certain to captivate some readers and send others screaming from the room.

And let us discuss the mad sexxoring. Erik’s tutelage of Christine immediately takes on an erotic theme, as he initiates her through several dark sexual scenarios that contain bondage, pain, and dominant/submissive sexual positions. Gale’s efforts to explore issues of control are fascinating. Erik is in control of much of their bondage play, but Christine holds a growing measure of control over Erik’s feelings for her, as well as over his physical safety as the hidden Phantom of the opera house. But socially, Philippe and Raoul hold more power than either Christine or Erik, and both the Comte and the Vicomte hold a grudge against Erik, ultimately involving Christine as sexual pawn in their revenge.

The use of sex as a marker of good and evil is curious. Erik is sexually demanding and certainly involves Christine in situations she’d never before encountered, but there is a constant undercurrent of desire and almost desperation in his actions toward Christine. He doesn’t like that he’s drawn to her, and his sexual encounters with Christine may involve pain but they also focus on their ultimate pleasure. Erik cares for Christine, though his manner is often a bit twisted and heavy handed.

On the other hand, Philippe is a sadist, first and foremost, and his plans for Christine and for his brother contain no consideration for their feelings or their comfort. The fine difference between Erik’s sex scenes and Philippe’s is used to define their characters and instill some degree of nobility in one and remove it from the other.

This is not the book I’d turn to for a comfort read; it’s dark, thought provoking, and focuses on sexual exploration that certainly skirts the edge of disturbing. It is a curious and brave undertaking by the author to tackle an erotic retelling of a classic story. But it wasn’t the sex that got in the way of my enjoying the novel; it was the writing style. Virtually every character talks with an abundance of ellipses, and the dragging dialogue became less of a stylistic element and more of an annoyance. Christine is prone to over-dramatic angsty dialogue that at times seems completely unnatural and stilted, and other characters employ a similar overblown sense of importance in their speech. While the action is fast-paced and story progresses rapidly, the dialogue is so distractingly cumbersome and overwrought that it trips the story up every other page.

So it’s not the sex that turned me off, it’s the writing style. The sexual elements of the storyline were certainly startling at times, but I wasn’t offended by their presence. It was more the characters speaking that got on my nerves. The narration was more eloquent – and while I usually look for dialogue and skim descriptions, I found myself reading the descriptions and wishing Christine and crew would shut up already.

However, the sex really, really bothered other reviewers, and the tone of the reviews in various locations really surprised me. The story certainly is provoking – like cilantro. You either love it or think it tastes like soap and want it nowhere near your dinner. People either gave the book 5 stars or 1, but few were unaffected by the contents. Both positive and negative reviews on Amazon used the word “haunting,” and said the contents stayed with them long after they finished the book.

Yet, as one Bitchery member noted in an email to me recently, few of the reviews actually talk about the writing, and focus instead on the sex. Christine, make no mistake, has a LOT of sex, and not just with Erik. She has sex with people she doesn’t like much, but she cannot stop herself from being aroused by their actions. Her body and her mind are often at war with one another, and she engages in acts she’s not proud of with people she loathes, but she’s also a captive for part of the time, and moreover, this is “an erotic novel” to quote the cover copy. While there’s a lot that can come under those terms (har har), from BDSM orgy parties to incredibly descriptive depictions of buttsecks between two protagonists, I expect some adventurous and perhaps innovative sexual romping in a book labeled erotic.

The reviews I found on Amazon, however, were not so happy with the sexual content:

“Gale has taken too many liberties with the plot and the characters. The basic tale of the opera ghost and his love for the chorus girl is there, but other than that, this is a risqué sexual journey that will make you cringe…. The overall writing is okay, but the actions and thoughts of the characters are disturbing. “

The writing is okay but the actions of the characters are disturbing… because they had a lot of sex in an erotic novel? The logic here confounds me.

“…wonderful story was tainted and screwed by this horrible so called erotic romance novel by Ms. Gale. I am no prude but this book was such a disappointment and not the romantic erotica I was expecting. It was nothing but BDSM sex, twisting our beloved Phantom into a sex fiend who wanted nothing more to do NON erotic but only hard, cold sexual things to Christine, there was NO love, NO romance…just hard core, not written well, sex, nothing but crude and unrealistic sex. Please take my word as someone who has read possibly every book that has to do with Erik or The Phantom…this book will taint your mind forever….”

The story was screwed! By the erotic novel! Ha!

But the accusation that there’s no love, no romance? Well, it’s an erotic novel, not a romance novel. So I assume the “sex” comes first (HA!). But several times there are admissions of love from Erik and Christine. And ultimately Christine has to choose between a man who is disfigured and kinda nuts, but also the one she loves, and a man who is rich, titled, socially acceptable, but not necessarily the man for her. I’ve read plenty of romances with that type of storyline; was there too much kinky sex such that it got in the way of that reader’s enjoyment of the romantic elements of the plot?

“…this book haunts me! I have never read such a piece of trash in all my life that included my beloved Phantom. I know the word “erotic” is in the title – but, what I had expected was something more Sensual, Romantic, and Love – those are the qualities that the Phantom story possesses. This book merely takes our beloved characters and puts them into scenes of bondage, whips, chains and sex with no feeling. It is sad that the writer felt they had to put someone having sex onto every other page – – the story line itself (excluding the sex) was not that bad – and the writing was okay – but the calousness of the sex throughout the book just ruined it! If you like S & M/Bondage and Animal lusts – then you’ll just love this book.”

Animal lusts? Whoa, nelly! That last sentence reads like a condemnation – if you like this book, there’s something WRONG WITH YOU!

One reviewer, “YA Librarian,” who gave the book four stars, said, “I find it odd that people’s knickers are in a knot when reviewing this book. I’m not sure how this book could have fooled anyone into believing it was a nice wholesome tale about POTO when the title is: Unmasqued: An EROTIC Novel of The Phantom of The Opera. People should know that this book is going to have sex in it; a lot of sex in it and people are having sex with each other in different ways. If you are not a fan of erotica then this may not be the book for you.”

That about sums it up for me. It’s an “erotic novel,” and it flips a love triangle over, chains it to a bed on wheels and leads it to the kinky section of the erotica shelf. As I said, “erotica” can encompass many, many things, but if I pick up a novel labeled with that word I do expect to see “lots of sex in different ways.”

But what really confused me was the AAR review, which focused on the morality of the characters as one of the reasons for the “F” grade:

“There are not many books that I can say have made my stomach turn, but Unmasqued is definitely one of them. If Gale had written a more contained story between Christine and Erik – even if Christine was also involved with Raoul at the same time – I would have been more accepting. I am a fan of erotica in general but this was an unsettling, never-ending sadomasochistic tale filled with amoral characters.”

Amoral? Christine is a stage dancer, and has already had sex with other people, and as such in that time period would be considered a “loose” woman, or at least a woman of dubious reputation. The other dancers have “protectors” and engage in sex as well. So what’s the amorality? There’s definitely an S&M overtone, and while some of the scenes I’ve read didn’t do it for me, I can see why it might turn someone else on, particularly someone who likes S&M scenarios.

But the use of the word “amoral” in the review really puzzles me. Christine doesn’t choose to betray Erik because she’s a cruel, heartless person. She finds herself in situations where she has to submit to the point where it becomes a habit for her, but it’s not out of any loss of morals. The same is true of Erik: he might be socially inept and a wounded hero with visible scars and a chip on his shoulder, but he’s not amoral. So why the accusation based on morality? Is it because Gale based the book on a story that has a primary monogamous protagonist pair, and has introduced other partners into that sanctity? It is erotica, so what’s wrong with multiple partners? Why is sadomasochism “amoral?” The use of the word seems to assign a lot of value to monogamous nonkinky sex, and while I can empathize with readers who prefer monogamous storylines, any time I see the word “erotic” I assume there is a higher chance of multiple partners at the very least.

The reaction is half of what keeps me pondering this book. I’d have a lot more respect the various reviews I found online if they’d said, “I can’t take the twisting of a story I love,” much like people were turned off by the Pride and Prejudice sequels that had Lizzie and Darcy getting down to some raunchy raunchy action. I can understand that and can see why it would squick someone out. But to call her and Erik immoral and to rage against the erotic sexual content seems to focus more on what the readers sees as a degradation of a beloved storyline, which the author owns up to rewriting with erotic tones on the cover and in the dedication. You can’t say you weren’t warned.

It would be easy to rail against the relative prudishness of these reviews, but that’s not my point. If the sex didn’t do it for someone, I understand that. It didn’t always do it for me, either, but I’m not that into BDSM scenarios and I know it. However, I do know that they turn other people on. I also know that I didn’t approach this book with any preconceived notions of the storyline, or any blissful memories of romantic enthrallment with the Webber musical or the Leroux novel. Identifying the flaw fuels these negative reactions confounds me. Are people upset at the corruption of a beloved story, or angry that, despite the book being labeled as “erotic,” there was a lot of kinky sex with multiple partners?

“Erotic” doesn’t just mean, “Avast! Here be buttsecks!” But then, that’s just my interpretation of the word – perhaps the word “erotic” is not sufficient to describe the varying levels of sexual content housed within it, and that’s the real issue at hand.

Just as the novel plays with perceptions of control and sex, the reactions hinge on expectations as well. Those expecting an erotic novel got what they came for (har har) but those focusing on the Phantom part were shocked and appalled by the erotic part, and their disappointed expectations of romance more than sex yielded some very whiny and upset reviews. But then, that’s the danger that Gale faced when revising a much-loved story and adding in a different ending and a whole lot of sex. Either way, people talking about a book means people are talking about a book, and that is always a good thing. Just ask Anna Campbell.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Elyssa says:

    I read UnMasked and loved it unashamedly.  But then I always thought Christine should have went with the Phantom over Raoul.  I agree that the writing was a little much, one of my favorite lines from the novel is uttered by Madame Giry has she is having sexual relations with Firmin.  She says, “…I want to suck you like a lollipop.” 

    And while there is a lot of BDSM in the novel, the novel does focus on control/power so it made sense.  And it was hot.  🙂 

    Plus, CG is writing an erotica novel due out next year about The Count of Monte Criso.  I know I’ll be reading it – I liked UnMasked. 

    If you don’t like erotica, then I wouldn’t recommend you reading it or if you don’t want Christine with Eric, then don’t read it as well.

  2. 2
    Anon says:

    I’m sorry, but any book that uses the word “spooge” in a love scene is just… no.  Fail.

  3. 3

    “Why is sadomasochism “amoral?” The use of the word seems to assign a lot of value to monogamous nonkinky sex…”

    There is a lot of value judgement that is leveraged against folks who embrace BDSM in their lives or their bedrooms.  And there is a great deal of misunderstanding about what it involves.  Even living in the Bay Area and having really sex positive friends, when I announced that I was committing myself to a D/s relationship with a partner who is poly, I got a lot of questions and raised eyebrows.

    Kink is considered “amoral” by some and “distured” or “pathological” by others.  It can be destructive just in the way that vanilla sexual practices can be destructive, but it can also allow for incredible growth, intimacy, and love in a relationship.  It saddens me a bit that a number of reviewers seem to only think of kink as something cold and unemotional.

  4. 4
    Kiku says:

    I always loved how Christine ended up with Raoul, but nothing comes between me and my nineteenth century (-style) French erotica, so away I go – I’ll probably love it.

  5. 5

    I always thought the Phantom was a better choice than Raoul, so I liked this novel. The sex didn’t offend me – after all, the words EROTIC were written on the front of the book, so I was prepared for anything 🙂 I would have liked to see a little more interaction between Christine and Eric versus the attention that was paid to the other characters, but overall I enjoyed the book.

  6. 6

    adds erotic sexual scenes, a good dose of BDSM, and a whole new ending.

    Let me get this straight…she’s writing sanctioned fan-fic?  Based on Phantom of the Opera?  I guess it’s in the mode of Maguire’s ‘Wicked’ being a fannish ode to the Wizard of Oz.  Why is it when my friends and I do this [adding more sex and endings we like] in graphic novel or fiction form—based on manga, films, or tv shows—we’re derided and the copyright police come a callin?

    0_0 is confused.

  7. 7
    Emma says:

    Mmm. First Kay’s Phantom, and now this. I’m not actually sure if I should read it—Leroux’s book hopped all over the place, but the musical/film does a very nice job of keeping the sexual tension simmering under the surface, and that’s my favourite sort of romance. It’s why you can believe Darcy in P&P.

    I think it’s not fanfic because the copyright ran out—I could be wrong, but hey.

    *snerks* Thanks, ‘little88’.

  8. 8
    Becky says:

    Well, it might have something to do with the fact that the copyright on the original novel has expired.  Characters from TV shows, movies, or manga are not in the public domain.

  9. 9
    Emily says:

    I love how all silly reviews condemning erotic novels start with the sentence “I’m not a prude, but…”

  10. 10
    Teddy Pig says:


    Just yesterday I reading Annie Dean’s short story in Boundless. Well the voice she used in it writing it reminded me of a gay author I love so I ran over to Amazon and was trying to find the book.

    So, I found it J. G. Hayes “This Thing Called Courage” it is a series of short stories about South Boston Irish working class gay men. Some of the stories are admittedly not happy ending type stories but they are hard and dark glimpses of men struggling desperately with being gay and some fail. This was the type of style that reminded me of Annie Dean’s character.

    Some of the crap ass reviews I saw were amazing. Gay men were actually riling against the gay author because he was writing dysfunctional gay characters with some sad endings so obviously he was promoting homophobia and gay men being ashamed of themselves not to mention teenage gay sex with older men etc etc etc.

    It is amazing how many people freak the moment you entertain showing a reality in your writing they do not care to see. The moment you step out of the classist party line and refuse to give them rose colored fiction that does not include poor people or many of them colored folks. The minute you suggest that people of all ages still have to struggle with being gay, that quite a few do not get to run away to la la land but stay home and some do not have happy endings, all hell breaks loose.

    It is sad to me because there simply is not enough gay writers willing to write fiction that includes close to honest portrayals of blue collar gay men or just gay men who are not particularly young, pretty or talented. Not when you can sell plastic safe stories of middle age rich white guys falling in love at Rehoboth Beach to all the stuck up queens who still read books.

  11. 11
    Gwen says:

    “Erotic” doesn’t just mean, “Avast! Here be buttsecks!”

    Other than making me laugh like a loon and getting strange looks from my 3rd grader who is finishing her homework across the room, that sentence perfectly summarizes what I think is the consensus, and, to me, uneducated opinion, on erotica, as well as “alternate” sexual practices.

    There’s more to all of this than simple “weirdness.”  There’s a whole control and release dynamic. 

    Sybil and I had a long conversation about this very topic last night.  We both agreed that sex is about power for most people.  Anyone who says it’s simply about gratification is lying.  Perhaps for an animal it is.  For people?  No way.

    Any book that talks about power, control, essential release, to me, is a study of why we do things the way we do them.  Erotica is just that to me – a power study.  In addition to being really hawt.

    My spaminator word is particularly apropos – take31.

  12. 12
    Gwen says:

    Hey Teddypig – Ditto on the amazon reviews.  I give them about the same attention I do a gnat.

  13. 13
    Gwen says:

    And before anyone gets any ideas, the conversation Sybs and I had last night was on the TELEPHONE. 

    You people have durty durty minds. 😉


  14. 14
    shuzluva says:

    “Erotic” doesn’t just mean, “Avast! Here be buttsecks!”
    I snorted at this as well. I was disappointed by the Gale novel for the same reasons as SB Sarah. The voices of the characters rang very tinny to me in a novel that was rich in description.

    However, I am going to give the retelling of Monte Christo a try…since I thought that the structure of the novel (and yes, the erotic element) were fantastic.

  15. 15
    Kimberly Anne says:

    Nope, won’t be reading this.  I never understood readers wanting to pair Christine and the Phantom.  I did read Kay’s The Phantom all the way back in high school, and although I liked the book, I still felt the same confusion.  For me, the sticking point remains simple—however human or sympathetic you attempt to make him, he did horrific things. 

    *Spoilers, if you don’t know the story*

    He brainwashed an innocent, naive girl by twisting stories her beloved dead father had once told her.  He murders several different people in some creatively nasty ways, and carries on a sustained campaign of terror to get what he wants.  In the end, the only reason he lets Christine go is because she is willing to sell herself to him in exchange for Raoul’s life.  That doesn’t scream romantic hero for me, it just gives me the creeps.

    Maybe it’s that so many know the Phantom only through Lloyd Weber’s musical, which does soften and eroticize him.  I read the original first, and like Dracula in the original version, he is a monster.

  16. 16
    saltypepper says:

    Okay, now, let’s all think back to last week’s discussion on labeling books…

    Hmmmm, this book says IN THE TITLE that it’s erotic, and people are still shocked and furious about the contents.  Why?  Because labeling is subjective!  One woman’s erotica is another woman’s “filthy smut.”  Just like some folks are horrified about cussing, even from a monster-slaying heroine.

    And what kind of a scale are we using here?  Does calling a book “Erotic” mean it’s got more sex than one that’s “romantic” but not as much as one that’s “smutty” or “raunchy?”  What kind of sex are we talking about?  Who’s having that sex? How explicit are the descriptions?  Who decides where to draw the line? 
    I agree with those who say straight up that they just don’t like to see their favorite stories messed with, in which case, hello? Don’t read the book!

  17. 17
    smartmensab-tch says:

    Animal lusts, huh. *makes note to buy*

  18. 18
    Elyssa says:

    The Phantom actually is not a killer in CG’s retelling.  The actual “monster” of the book is Phillip, the Comte but that’s a whole other story.

  19. 19

    To Emma and Becky – thanks ^_^v, I wasn’t sure what was involved in a ‘re/imagined’ novel, and I wasn’t sure about expired copyrights.

    For me, the sticking point remains simple—however human or sympathetic you attempt to make him, he did horrific things.

    Smart Bitch Advisory?  Hero is a Douche-Rocket.  On a more serious note, there are women out there who like the genuine ‘100% bastard’ main-man.  I’m not keen on books that try to ‘redeem’ established ‘bastards’ in order to make the relationship more palatable to readers; if he’s going to be a jerk, then make the person who loves him a bonafide jerklover.

  20. 20

    Huh, I might have to pick this up.

    I think you’ve made a good point, Sarah, about how a lot of the *GASP! Offended!* reviews come from people who’ve been fans of POTO for ages.  And while I can understand that kind of automatic dislike of a retelling, particularly one that you feel violates the feel of the original (I’m enough of a Harry Potter book whore to hate the first four movies), I can’t understand the insistence that by just existing, the retellings have ruined the original.  Um, last I checked, libraries weren’t tossing out Leroux or Lloyd-Webber in favor of this book.  Ditto for the Pride & Prejudice sequels.

  21. 21
    snarkhunter says:

    A bit OT (as I have not read the book and prolly won’t—fragile psyche and all that), but:

    …much like people were turned off by the Pride and Prejudice sequels that had Lizzie and Darcy getting down to some raunchy raunchy action.

    For some of us, it was just b/c the sex was so. bloody. bad. Not to mention the character assassination. And did I mention the badly-written sex. Now, I’m off to find me some well-written fanfiction on ye olde internets.

    (Hee. Confirmation word? “Away14”)

  22. 22
    Lindz says:

    Avast! Here be buttsecks!

    Is there any way I can get that on a t-shirt?

  23. 23
    Colette Gale says:

    Avast! Here be buttsecks!

    I was trying to remember if there actually is any buttsecks in the book….and I don’t think there is. Just thought I’d clear it up for those of you who might be expecting it. 😉

    However, that scene with Mme. Giry during the masquerade ball comes close….

    Thanks for the review, SB Sarah. Made my day.

  24. 24
    Estelle Chauvelin says:

    I think many of us are screaming and running away from this without even touching it because we’ve been screaming and running away from the concept so long in fanfiction that it has become a reflex.

    If somebody wants to inject some sex into 19th century classics (in such a way that I can still tell I’m reading about the characters that I like- here I’m thinking of a certain Jane Eyre wedding night fic. that was oh so lovely and in character), then that’s fine with me.  But I’ve seen enough Phantom/Christine in my life that completely fails to address the issues against it that I’m tired of seeing if the next one does a better job, and I’m certainly not going to pay for it (or even take the trouble to see if any of the libraries have it).

    But what can I say, I’m really a Les Miserables fic writer and reader.  And don’t even get me started on its published sequel.  There’s nothing wrong with published, authorized fan fiction in itself, but how is it that the ones that get published are usually worse than stuff I can find on the Internet for free?

  25. 25
    Karmyn says:

    Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person that liked Rauol, both in the original novel and original movie. I’ve only seen the original silent version with Lon Chaney and I don’t think any woman would find that Phantom attractive.

  26. 26
    Estelle Chauvelin says:

    Karmyn, I sort of came to like Raoul the last time I reread the novel.  I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s no worse than Marius in Les Miserables: possibly not the most interesting character, a bit dopey, but there’s no reason to actively dislike him.

    I’ve never seen any of the film versions of Phantom of the Opera more than once.

  27. 27
    Diane says:

    I wrote a review here of “Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife.” I have to say I couldn’t stand it. Not because it had a lot of sex, but because it had a lot of bad, poorly written sex that was not true to the characters. Overall it was a flawed work with no real coherent story that I could follow, and that’s the problem I had with it. I would love to read a good P&P sequel, but now I’m scared to look. But then, could it really be worse than the book mentioning Mr. Darcy’s huge cock every other sentence? I doubt it.

  28. 28
    Ann Bruce says:

    CG is writing an erotica novel due out next year about The Count of Monte Criso.

    I’m feeling kinda iffy about this one.  I LOVE Le Comte de Monte Cristo.  I love it so much that I read it in French because I thought the English translation didn’t do it justice.

    After reading polarized reviews on Unmasqued, I’m not sure I’ll like what she does to some of my favourite literary characters.

    Spam word: maybe61

  29. 29
    desertwillow says:

    I haven’t seen POTO in years and I think that was some cheesy movie (don’t ask me from what decade, I can’t remember) so I’m not emotionally attached to it. I wonder what would have happened if she had left out the subtitle and allowed the main title to stand alone? If people had come to this story without the POTO baggage things may have been a little more subdued.

    I also wonder what runs through people’s minds when they hear the word ‘erotic’?

    I happen to like the Amazon reviews. You get to tell the whole world what you thought of a book. You also get to find out if other people liked the book you bought. On the other hand it’s a great opportunity for people to act stupid. That’s kind of fun too.

    Maybe I’ll be making a purchase soon.

  30. 30
    sara says:

    Awesome, a book that needs three Smart Bitch advisories.

    And thanks, Sarah, for pointing out that when that last reviewer said “amoral” she meant “immoral.” OMG SLUT.

  31. 31
    Brandi says:

    Avast! Here be buttsecks!

    That reminds me of this book: Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition

  32. 32
    Chicklet says:

    There’s nothing wrong with published, authorized fan fiction in itself, but how is it that the ones that get published are usually worse than stuff I can find on the Internet for free?

    It’s a universal constant, like how every time a mainstream journalist writes an article about fanfiction, they go to and choose the absolute worst excerpt possible to serve as an example of the entire phenomenon.

  33. 33
    smartmensab-tch says:

    From Linda:

    ““Avast! Here be buttsecks!

    Is there any way I can get that on a t-shirt?”

    Linda – If you, or anyone else, actually gets this on a t-shirt, I predict you’ll receive many *interesting* propositions.  Let us know if any of them are actually original!

  34. 34
    Ehren says:


    that… isn’t really…. christine…

    ………..this…. isn’t really…. the phantom….

    this isn’t really even a retelling. o.O

    it hurts.


    oh god it hurts so much.


    This is like seeing a suefic grace my screen without the benefit of knowing no one’s going to buy it. I know you don’t like the phantom musical, but even with the book, which I sort of remember, this isn’t really the phantom. This is… some creation made by a suethor who twisted the characters into something more perverse than it could possibly ever be. This I would rate not just F, but so far below F that it might as well rate Z.

  35. 35
    Sarah Frantz says:

    Why is sadomasochism “amoral?” The use of the word seems to assign a lot of value to monogamous nonkinky sex.

    Oh, but it’s so easy to condemn what you don’t understand and are convinced would never get you off.  Or to condemn what DOES get you off precisely because someone has taught you that it shouldn’t (hello, Senator Craig!).

    And despite Joey Hill’s best efforts, almost all mainstream depictions of BDSM (the preferred acronym) are of the “cold-hearted bitch with no emotions” variety.  So it’s easy to assume that’s all it is, without understanding that “sadists” like you say Phillipe is depicted are actually psychotic, not sadists.  It’s possible to be a sadist without being psychotic, trust me.

  36. 36
    monimala says:

    Ah, Phantom of the Opera, wooing women into disfigured stalker kink since Nineteen Ought Whatever.

    I’m at a loss to figure out how one can “twist” a melty-faced freak who lives in a subterranean shrine to a girl he watched grow up and killed to be close to.  I’ve seen the musical, read Kay and Leroux, and damn if the Gerard Butler Phantom wasn’t sex on a stick, but bitch, please!

    These reviewers’ “beloved” Phantom was hardly as chaste and pure as all that.  Or am I just a sicko for actually finding the POTO stage show pretty kinky on its own?

    So, really, why the shock and surprise over an erotic retelling?  And I think it’s hilarious that your review, Sarah, basically takes the opposite position: the writing ISN’T okay; the sex is fine.  I’m not really into BDSM, it’s why my reading affair with Emma Holly didn’t last long, so I’d probably avoid Gale’s novel on those grounds, but geesh, I’d completely expect the Phantom to be into whips and chains.

  37. 37
    Trix says:

    Hm, like Sarah Frantz may be implying, I might steer clear of it because while certain explorations of control and kink are fine by me, I wish there were more representations of BSDM outside of the context of totally nutcase dom/top and the submissive/bottom who keeps going back because she “just can’t help herself”. I think it’s hotter if submissives are choosing their fate, personally. How much of a humourless feminist am I?

    Despite all the fruitcakes saying “ZOMG this is twoooo BDSM and we all have to live our lives by it” about the Kushiel books (hello, they’re fantasy), I liked the fact that the protagonist very much has agency in nearly all the stuff she puts herself though. The occasions where she doesn’t have control are where no-one would… and she does a nice job of turning the tables at a number of points.

  38. 38
    DS says:

    This was written by Colleen Gleason under a pseudonym?  I googled the author and this came up in an interview.

    After seeing the musical and a couple of old movies I couldn’t really figure out what all the fuss was about so I fall in the Not a Fan category.  However BDSM leaves me cold. (I just don’t get it: maybe I’m tone deaf to that register on the erotic scale.) So, I’m doubly unlikely to read it. 

    I am surprised to read the complaints about her writing, she seemed technically competent enough in the other book I read by her.  The ellipsis thing I usually associate with Barbara Cartland’s breathless heroines—now that would be a worthwhile project—re-imagining Cartland’s books as erotica.

  39. 39
    Marta Acosta says:

    Trix said, “This was written by Colleen Gleason under a pseudonym?  I googled the author and this came up in an interview.”

    I just interviewed Colleen about her Gardella Vampire Chronicles on my blog and she mentioned her erotica and said that a little research would uncover her identity.  (I found it on a bibliography somewhere I think.) I had just figured it out when I saw this review.

    As to the outrage over POTO, there are always people who feel they “own” characters and no one better mess with their interpretations.  In 20 years time people will be outraged by an erotic retelling of “Hairspray,” screaming, “That’s not MY Edna Turnbull!”

  40. 40
    P.N. Elrod says:

    I was raised on Lon Chaney Sr. and Herbert Lom playing the Phantom and read the Gaston Leroux book in high school.  The musical was lavish Broadway flash, but I’m tired of it now and still prefer the previous films.

    I am puzzled by the fem reaction toward Erik, too.  A few of my friends are nuts over him despite the fact that he’s a blackmailing, sociopathic murderer who dropped a giant chandlier on a crowd, and killed a singer on stage.  He was into strangling people, fer goo’ness sake!

    They then play the “tortured hero” card.  When I point out that *heroes* are not controlling manipulative, co-dependent killers (vs. Raoul who really cared for Christine since they were kids and didn’t have a problem that she had a career), they swoon for the whiny, sewer-dwelling (ick!), angst-boy every single time.  A book about the BDSM factor should be perfect for them!

    You’ve got me curious about the stilted dialogue.  I’m wondering if the writer copied it or the style wholesale from Leroux’s original novel (try and get through THAT sometime!).  I’ve written my share of pastiches where one must borrow heavily from the source, and what was just peachy in the 1890’s does not translate well to the 21st century.  If someone tried to novelize Hamlet keeping all the lines from the play as dialogue it might not read well to anyone who’d never heard of or read the original.

    Thanks for the review—I’ll skip this one since it’s clearly for those wanting more of the musical.

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