Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review and Giveaway: THE PHANTOM'S APPRENTICE by Heather Webb

Experience the magic of music--and the music of magic!--in Heather Webb's latest novel, THE PHANTOM'S APPRENTICE (Sonnet Press). With the finesse and skill of a master conjuror, Webb transmutes the familiar substance of the Phantom of the Opera tradition into a haunting tale of love, loss, and rebirth. Combining newly-imagined elements of magic and hidden family secrets with a substrate that draws from both Gaston Leroux's original 1910 novel and Andrew Lloyd Webber's famed 1986 Broadway musical, Webb reinvigorates familiar Phantom tradition with an edgy novelty that will appeal to devoted Phantom fans and unschooled initiates alike.

Webb's version focuses on the transformational journey of protagonist Christine Daaé, victim of circumstance and obedient pawn in the hands of powerful men, to full agency in determining her own fate. The orphaned daughter of an itinerant musician, Christine wins a coveted spot in the chorus of the Nouvel Opéra in Paris through the kindness of a benefactor's friend. At the Opéra, the beautiful, gifted singer snares the attention of the mysterious "Opera Ghost," who trains her voice and, through means that range from coercion to murder, positions her to displace the reigning diva. As Christine's emotions waver between gratefulness and fear towards this demanding ghost so devoted to her advancement, she becomes reacquainted with her childhood sweetheart, the Vicomte de Chagny. Raoul revives not only Christine's dormant heart but her interest in illusions, which she had set aside following her father's death. As Christine rededicates herself to mastering illusion in the hope of performing magic onstage, she uncovers secrets that involve her deceased parents in the ghost's shady past. Determined to slip the Phantom's obsessive grasp once and for all, she sets into motion an elaborate plan to flee the opera house. Only by outwitting and outperforming her accomplished adversary--a Master Conjuror himself--can Christine hope to fulfill her dreams and embrace a new life with Raoul.

Webb's deft weaving of innovative material within the framework of a familiar, revered narrative speaks to her skills as a storyteller. The tale moves at a brisk pace, with Christine's confidence and courage growing in equal measure. Interconnected backstories, slowly revealed, enrich the plot and deepen character development. Webb's firm grip on the culture of Belle Époque Paris, developed during the writing of her earlier novel RODIN'S LOVER (2015), displays itself in her luscious descriptions of the opulent Palais Garnier and its glamorous visitors, as well as in her portrayals of the daily grind of its performer's rehearsals and aspirations. Of particular strength is the novel's immersion in the spiritualist movement of the time. Eager to believe the spirits of her dead parents ever with her, even as she learns the tricks conjurors use to dupe the bereaved, Christine becomes the unwilling link between the conjuror and the scientist bent on exposing him. Her individual story of loss and enlightenment enacts on a personal level the struggles of a society caught in the death throes of superstition.

A thoroughly entertaining foray into a glamorous world of magic and music, where dreams bloom with thrill and transience of illusion, THE PHANTOM'S APPRENTICE proves there is more to the story of Christine and the Phantom than meets the eye.

During the Blog Tour Heather is giving away two paperback copies of The Phantom’s Apprentice! Enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at their discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Phantom's Apprentice


HEATHER WEBB is the author of historical novels BECOMING JOSEPHINE, RODIN'S LOVER, the anthology FALL OF POPPIES, and LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS, which have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and France Magazine and have received national starred reviews. To date, her novels have sold in ten countries. Heather is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend. For more information, please visit Heather’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 5
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Tuesday, February 6
Review at The Lit Bitch
Feature at A Bookaholic Swede
Wednesday, February 7
Review at Just One More Chapter
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Thursday, February 8
Review at A Bookish Affair
Friday, February 9
Review at Trisha Jenn Reads
Saturday, February 10
Review at Bookish
Monday, February 12
Review at Creating Herstory
Tuesday, February 13
Review at Linda’s Book Obsession
Wednesday, February 14
Review at Clarissa Reads it All
Thursday, February 15
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Friday, February 16
Review at Baer Books
Monday, February 19
Review at Cup of Sensibility
Review at Let Them Read Books
Review at Bookworms Anonymous
Tuesday, February 20
Feature at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, February 21
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Monday, February 26
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Friday, February 2, 2018

Sixteenth Century Quote of the Week

Louise Labé in 1555, Engraving by Pierre Woeiriot (1532-1596)
"Estant le tems venu, Madamoiselle, que les severes loix des hommes n'empeschent plus les femmes de s'apliquer aux sciences et disciplines: il me semble que celles qui ont la commodité, doivent employer cette honneste liberté que notre sexe ha autre fois tant desiree, à icelles aprendre: et montrer aus hommes le tort qu'ils nous faisoient en nous privant du bien et de l'honneur qui nous en pouvoit venir: Et si quelcune parvient en tel degré que de pouvoir mettre ses concepcions par escrit, le faire songneusement et non dédaigner la gloire, et s'en parer plustot que de chaines, anneaus, et somptueus habits: lesquels ne pouvons vrayement estimer notres, que par usage. Mais l'honneur que la science nous procurera, sera entierement notre: et ne nous pourra estre oté, ne par finesse de larron, ne force d'ennemis, ne longueur du temps."

"Since the time has now come, Mademoiselle, when men’s harsh laws no longer prevent women from applying themselves to study and learning, it seems to me that those who have the means should take advantage of this well-deserved freedom — so fervently desired by our sex in the past — to pursue them, and to show men how wrong they were to deprive us of the benefit and recognition these things might have given us. And if any of us succeeds to the point where she can put her ideas down in writing, she should do it seriously and not disdain fame, but adorn herself with it, rather than with chains, rings, and lavish clothing, all of which we cannot truly consider our own except by social custom.But the honor that education brings us will be entirely our own, and cannot be taken away from us — neither by a thief’s trickery, nor by an enemy’s force, nor by the passage of time."

Louise Labé (1524-1566)
Poet, Evvres de Louize Labé Lionnoise (1555)
Dedicatory Epistle to Clémence de Bourges
Translated by Deborah Lesko Baker (2006)