Daily Archives: April 18, 2021

Reading Notes, 4/18/21

Finished Reading

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Growing up in the 80s, even in Omaha, NE, it was pretty much impossible to not be aware of the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, but my first girlish infatuation with The Phantom of the Opera was due to a 1990 mini-series with Charles Dance as the Phantom. Ah! the romance! Ah! the creepy opera house full of secret passageways and hidden doors. (Also being a makeup effects fan, I of course knew of Lon Chaney in the 1925 movie.) But, I hadn’t read book. Translations are particularly a classics hurdle for me.

Leroux was a journalist and a mystery writer, with particular reverence for Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Alan Poe. Had I known that, I probably would have read his works sooner. And I’ll probably be inclined to read more of his straighter mysteries. As is, The Phantom of the Opera is very much a serial novel of the time and almost more toward the adventure genre, at least toward the end of the book. I don’t know what I think of the romance angle. The Opera Ghost (as he’s known in the novel) is manipulative and overbearing; Raoul is jealous and easily wounded. Poor Christine has her hands full trying to juggle them. There are definitely some creepy moments, but also a sub-plot or two that plod along.

A Classics Club pick and very #SpringHorror appropriate, but, ultimately, not suitable for the I Read Horror All Year “monster” prompt. The O. G. (as he’s also referred to in the book, which is amusing considering the current slang use) is more of a man with problems than a monster.

Classics Club Spin #26

And the random choice is… 11!

The next Classics Club book I will be reading is Mosses from an Old Manse by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I’m excited for this one, but I realized looking over the table of contents that I’ve read quite a few of this collection’s stories. For example, I just read “Egotism, or, The Bosom Serpent” a couple months ago for Deal Me In. I didn’t do a good job cross referencing my lists, obviously.

Deal Me In

8♠️: “The Pipers of Mallory” by Henrietta Dorothy Everett
Another story from Multo’s Women Writers of Folklore series. Henrietta Dorothy Everett often wrote as Theo Douglas and is one of so many fine writers who is little known now. This story is nicely done, set during WWI with harbinger ghosts.

Currently Reading

Saturday (April 24th) is Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon. I plan on taking part and knocking out some extra #SpringHorror reading.

A to Z Blogging Challenge 2021: Horror Movies O

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter O

The Orphanage

Year: 2007
Runtime: 1h 45m
Rated: R

Director: J.A. Bayona

Writer: Sergio G. Sánchez

Stars: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep

“Seeing is not believing. It’s the other way around. Believe, and you will see.”

Initial: I put off this movie for a long time because I was worried about how much it might freak me out. Ghostly kids in dark houses are pretty much the recipe for me watching a movie through my fingers. In fact, I thought I had watched the beginning before, but I don’t think I had.

What Did I Think:
This was a different movie than I thought it was, but that isn’t a bad thing. I guess I thought it was more like The Grudge (2004), but it’s not. Or maybe finally watching The Grudge last year built up my ghostly-kid-tolerance. But really, The Orphanage is the kind of ghost story I enjoy most: a mystery (maybe an unknown crime) wrapped in the supernatural.

I don’t have a lot to say here. The plot was a very nicely put together. The atmosphere was nearly always spot-on. The Orphanage actually has a moment that in any other movie would have been an over-wrought jump scare, complete with soundtrack sting. (Actually, The Grudge has a moment like that too…) I’m not familiar with Belén Rueda as an actor, but she has strong Toni Collette energy. I’m a little sad that I waited so long to watch The Orphanage and lost so many Halloween seasons without it. I can see it in a rotation with Lady in White (1988) and The Changeling (1980).

All the posts for this challenge. Or, find me on Letterboxd.