I should preface my review of The Phantom of the Opera by Cavan Scott and José María Beroy with the fact that I’ve never seen The Phantom of the Opera as a stage show. So I didn’t really know what to expect going into this graphic novel adaptation – only having vague awareness of some of the most famous songs. And I was surprised at how the story differed from how I imagined things – I’d somehow imagined it as this great Gothic romance between Christine and the Phantom, but it really, really isn’t. It went in very different directions to how I thought it would – and some that I am still not clear on if they were red herrings or not. And that is probably my biggest issue with this as a graphic novel. I don’t know if this is due to the source material or a problem of the adaptation itself, but it felt like an incomplete story. Thoughts were expressed, but not finished, and the ending was extremely abrupt. As a whole, it felt rather like a collection of ideas than a complete story. And accomplished comics storytelling and great art, unfortunately, couldn’t fully compensate for that.
I am more of a fantasy reader than a science fiction one, in general. But Kate Dylan’s debut, Mindwalker gripped me so much I breezed through the audiobook in a single day – which, were this a paper book wouldn’t be that unusual, but audio takes about five times as long! Sil Sarrah is a brilliant leading character and the world Kate Dylan creates is both harrowing and compelling. I loved how the story went in unexpected directions and got extremely twisty – not leaving the reader time to breathe and relax. It is a fast-paced, high-octane thriller, a cute romance and a disturbing vision of the future rolled all into one. A great YA, in short. As I listened to the audiobook via NetGalley I would be remiss not to praise Stephanie Cannon’s narration, perfectly translating Kate Dylan’s text to the aural format.
High Times in the Low Parliament by Kelly Robson is a Tor.com novella about fairies, politics and bureaucracy. It has the vibes of the UK Houses of Parliament crossed with a good dose of magic and supernatural threat – though it often feels like the fantasy elements thinly veil the author’s contempt at contemporary politics. While I very much agree with the sentiment, I’m not sure it makes for a great reading experience, especially for someone caught in the middle of the futile squabbling of a largely incompetent government. Lana is a scribe, brought to the Low Parliament by circumstance and thrown into these political machinations with little warning. Her allies are only two – a fairy named Bugbite and a human politician called Eloquentia – and those both have their own agendas. As a whole, this novella feels more like a satire with fantasy elements than the fantasy story I was expecting – and I think my lack of enjoyment was more due to timing and circumstance than the quality of the writing or the story.