The review is only in English
“The Monsters of Music” by Rebecca F. Kenney
“The Monsters of Music” is a contemporary fantasy YA novel by the indie author Rebecca F. Kenney.
The novel is a gender-bent retelling of Gaston Leroux’s “The Phantom of the Opera”, transported in the contemporary setting of the talent show “Voices Rising”.
Here the “Phantom” is Mel, a muse of the Lianhan Sídhe- Celtic Faeries that have to take a human protégé and infuse them with their magic not to let it consume them, but cannot use their powers for themselves; she is not supposed to reveal their existence to humans and, moreover, she thinks she can’t show her face because she was victim of an acid attack in her childhood and half of her face is badly scarred.
At the auditions, she chooses Kiyo, a shy, talented and attractive contestant to take to fame and glory.
To ensure the progress of her protégé in her show, she doesn’t only gift him with her powers but also sabotages the competition and threatens one of the judges, until feelings get in the way of her plan.
The novel is aimed at a teenage audience, who is the target that surely can appreciate it best, not only for how the romance between the main characters is managed, but also for the choice of the songs that accompany the chapters and the talent show setting.
The rhythm of the narration is fast-paced, which makes the book an easy, fun read; throughout the novel I found many references and homages to the names of the original novel.
I liked the dynamics between the characters and I appreciated that Mel was ruthless and morally grey, while Kiyo was sweet and innocent: it was nice to see the girl being the Beast to the Beauty for once. Also her revindication of her own talents and her refusal to being perpetually confined in the shadows made her an interesting main character, far from a helpless damsel in distress.
I also found minor characters, like Madame Boucher and the rival Harley, very well-written (I especially cherished the finale of the contest).
Although I’m personally not a fan of the songs mentioned in the book (although they are credible for a TV talent show), I loved the descriptions of the performances and I found the details of the voice coaching very believable.
If anything, I thought that the worldbuilding explained very well the implications of being a Lianhan Sídhe and their involvement in the arts, but I would have liked to know more about the other Faes living in the world and how they influence human lives.
In conclusion, I definitely recommend this book to teenagers who look for a captivating contemporary fantasy with a pop twist.