Phantom Heart

Viking. Aug. 2021. 528p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593116043.
Gr 9 Up–Seventeen-year-old skeptic Stephanie Armand refuses to believe the stories that Moldavia, the Victorian estate her father is renovating, is haunted. Even when her younger sister claims to have spoken to the masked man in her closet who has lights for eyes. And even when Lucas Cheney, leader of an amateur team of paranormal investigators, takes an interest in the property, and in Stephanie herself. But then, there are strange occurrences. First, Erik, a charming British boy, steps out of another time period and into Stephanie’s dreams—the same Erik who Stephanie connects to a tragedy that happened at Moldavia involving an occult gathering, a curse, and numerous casualties. Then, a seemingly malevolent entity makes its presence known. It seems that there is some truth behind the legend, and behind the mask. Creagh’s supernatural gothic romance is a fresh, updated take on Gaston Leroux’s classic novel, The Phantom of the Opera. The world of the novel is hauntingly beautiful and evocative of the familiar tale. The plot is intriguing and the prose well-paced; however, the story’s central love triangle feels contrived and the explanation of the curse, though inventive, is underdeveloped. The true delight comes with the characters, particularly the eccentric team of teenage ghost hunters, who bring both exuberance and comic relief to an otherwise dark narrative. Overall, the novel is an enjoyable read, filled with secrets, twists, and a surprising amount of heart. Most characters’ races aren’t stated.
VERDICT Fans of steamy supernatural romances should be first in line for this one.

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