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The Phantom of Manhattan is a 1999 novel by Frederick Forsyth that serves as a sequel to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical adaptation of Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera. In The Nineties, Lloyd Webber was developing a stage sequel to his biggest hit and he and Forsyth collaborated on a storyline for it. While plans for that show ultimately fell through, this novel is What Could Have Been for its plot, and many story elements would make their way into Lloyd Webber's official sequel Love Never Dies in 2010.

Forsyth opens with a preface that examines the Literary Agent Hypothesis of Leroux's work -- and argues that he Did Not Do the Research with regards to Erik's (the Phantom's) story, and that Lloyd Webber's version was a much more plausible take on events. From there, the story is told through the first-person viewpoints of different characters, switching with each chapter.

In 1906 New York City, thirteen years after the events of Phantom, Erik Mulheim is now a wildly successful businessman. This is partially thanks to Darius, a wicked young man who serves as his public face -- he worships "Mammon the god of gold" and has turned Erik into a fellow believer. Erik is preparing to open the Manhattan Opera House to indulge his old love of the form when he receives a letter from Madame Giry, the woman who helped him escape the authorities over a decade prior...

Soon, no less than Europe's greatest soprano, Christine de Chagny, is announced to be making her first visit to America to perform at the Manhattan Opera House, in a new work by an anonymous composer. Why has Erik dared to once again risk the rejection of the one woman he ever loved? And how will his dare affect those around them?

This novel contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Erik's father was this, physically abusing him and ultimately selling him to a freakshow. Erik was seven at the time.
  • Almost-Dead Guy: Madame Giry in Chapter One. She stays alive long enough to not only confess her part in Erik's story to a priest, but to give a notary the all-important letter, with payment and instructions on how to deliver it. She succumbs immediately afterward. Later, Christine de Chagny stays alive just long enough to tell Phillipe that Erik is his real father.
  • The American Civil War: The setting of the Phantom's new opera The Angel of Shiloh.
  • Amusement Park: Erik designs attractions for no less than three successful amusement parks on Coney Island and even finances the last one. One later serves as an...
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Steeplechase Park. It isn't usually this, but when fun master Taffy Jones is instructed to open the park in the off season for Christine and company's private visit, he's as puzzled as anyone by the goings-on. The mysterious pale man who volunteers to staff the toy shop in lieu of the (on vacation) usual clerk seems creepily interested in Pierre, and Taffy's attempt to guide Christine through the Hall of Mirrors is gummed up by an unknown force (guess who?) taking over its controls and trapping her in the center.
  • Anyone Can Die: The book starts with Madame Giry's death, which isn't a huge shock, but Christine de Chagny's demise is a different story.
  • As You Know: Most of Chapter Seven is taken up by a lengthy conversation between Pierre and Father Joe in which the latter recounts his entire backstory from childhood to the present moment in response to the former's questions. Given that Pierre has been tutored by Father Joe for over five years, it's curious that the boy (who is going on 13!) isn't aware of at least some of this already, much less the fact that not everyone lives on a huge estate like his family does.
  • Bandaged Face: In The Angel of Shiloh, the Southern Belle heroine's Union soldier fiance winds up with this when he is disfigured in an explosion. This allows Erik to understudy the role midway through the show, thus performing alongside his Christine again.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Madame Giry cites people's belief in this trope as the reason Erik's life has been hard since the day he was born.
  • Big Applesauce: Right there in the title, really.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Although Christine dies by accidentally taking the bullet meant for Pierre, most of the remaining characters have happy fates.
  • Black Cloak / Ominous Opera Cape: Erik still has at least two, and wears one when he goes to observe Christine's arrival ceremony. He gives it to Cholly Bloom (who doesn't see who gives it to him) so he can cover a puddle with it as she proceeds to her carriage; this act gets the reporter into Christine's good graces and she grants him an interview. Erik wears the other when he is finally reunited with her.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Darius.
  • Boom Town: Coney Island is on the cusp of becoming an internationally famous tourist destination when Erik arrives in America.
  • Can't Have Sex Ever: As it turns out, Raoul and Christine, due to an old injury of his.
  • Career-Ending Injury: A knee injury ended Meg's ballet career; she subsequently became Christine's maid.
  • Cheerful Child: Pierre de Chagny, who is not quite thirteen; in fact, aside from his precocious knowledge of mechanical devices, his innocent speech and behaviours (polite though they are) come off as those of someone a few years younger.
  • Chekov's Gun: Erik's Derringer -- an actual gun -- gets used in the climax.
  • The Chessmaster: Erik's efforts to be with Christine again without revealing himself to the rest of the world require him to be this.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: The Girys and de Chagnys are Catholic (the latter even hired an Irish Priest as a tutor), and Darius was raised as Catholic but eventually rejected the faith and murdered his tutor. On the other hand, Taffy Jones notes "as a chapel going man I do not normally have much to do with Papist priests" when recounting his initial encounter with Father Joe.
  • Circus Brat: While Erik's backstory is significantly different from that presented in the original Leroux novel, he is still this, acquiring his engineering and illusion skills from growing up with a carpenter father (abusive though he is) under the big top.
  • The City Narrows: Both Erik and Father Joe regard the Lower East Side as this; Father Joe is particularly horrified to discover children have been forced into prostitution there.
  • City of Adventure: Father Joe expects New York City to be this, and he proves to be right.
  • Come to Gawk: Erik's life in the freakshow boiled down to this.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Madame Giry only knows the Dark Secret because she not only knows Erik more personally than she let on to others before, but also attended to a teenaged Raoul after he was wounded by a fleeing pickpocket, and thus knows that he can't have sex, much less children.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Erik becomes one with the help of Darius, who is even more corrupt.
  • Curious as a Monkey: When Pierre receives the music box, it initially plays "Yankee Doodle Dandy", but he manages to inspect and figure out its inner workings -- and thus discovers that it can play another song if set up correctly. Cholly, recounting this to his friends, quips "This kid probably understands motor-car engines."
  • Cymbal Clanging Monkey: The Phantom sends the "Masquerade" music box to Christine's son Pierre to reveal his presence in the city and lure them to Steeplechase Park.
  • Dark Secret: It's kept by three people -- Madame Giry, Christine, and Raoul -- and is that Pierre is Erik's son, since he had sex with Christine after he abducted her during Don Juan Triumphant.
  • Dead Man Writing: Madame Giry's letter to Erik.
  • Deathbed Confession: The first chapter, "The Confession of Antoinette Giry", has her revealing the true extent of her knowledge of/relationship with Erik to a priest.
  • Demoted to Extra: Though he's frequently mentioned by the other characters, Raoul de Chagny has to attend to business in France and doesn't make it to New York City until after Erik and Christine have had their reunion. He only plays an active role in the story's climax as a result.
  • Diary: One chapter is a diary entry by Meg Giry.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Christine de Chagny dies in the arms of her husband, Raoul.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Pierre de Chagny gets the honor of unmasking Erik in the climactic scene.
  • The Edwardian Era: The story's temporal setting.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Darius.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Most of the city's residents don't realize that E. M. Tower, the tallest building in New York City, is also this. Most of it is occupied by ordinary people, but the top two floors serve as both corporate headquarters and living quarters for Erik and Darius.
  • Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue: Once the priest arrives to take Madame Giry's final confession, Chapter One becomes this, making the end of the chapter slightly tricky to follow as two other characters join the conversation.
  • First-Person Smartass: Cholly Bloom -- he is recounting his adventures to his buddies over drinks in Chapters Four and Nine. He's a lot more serious 40+ years later in Chapter Sixteen, but his casual sense of humor still turns up from time to time.
  • Foil: Father Joe (a humble and charitable man of the cloth) to Darius (a ruthless money-worshipper). Darius is also a foil to pure-hearted Pierre -- the former is described by Mammon as Erik's "adopted son", and the latter is Erik's actual son.
  • French Jerk: Chapter Four is told from French notary Armand Dufour's point of view; his narration alternates between detailing his seemingly futile quest to deliver Madame Giry's letter and complaining about how lousy New York City (and the United States in general) is compared to his home country.
  • God Is Good: Chapter Thirteen boils down to this point, as Father Joe prays and converses with God about Erik, the poor children in New York City, etc.
  • Go Into the Light: As she dies, Madame Giry tells the others she is headed through a tunnel towards an arch, beyond which lies light and the spirit of her first love...
  • Groin Attack: Happened to Raoul de Chagny in the backstory.
  • Hall of Mirrors: Erik and Christine have their reunion in one at Steeplechase Park.
  • Happily Married: Christine and Raoul.
  • Heel Face Turn: The ending hinges on this happening to Erik Mulheim.
  • Historical Domain Character: Quite a few have minor roles and cameos; probably the most important is Oscar Hammerstein, who built the short-lived Real Life Manhattan Opera House -- the book says that Erik was its secret financier. Chapter Fifteen is a society column that naturally discusses all the celebrities who appear at the afterparty of Christine's American opera debut.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Oscar Hammerstein kisses Christine's hand upon her arrival in America; the reporter recounting this in Chapter Eight notes that this is "an Old World gesture seen with increasing rarity in our society".
  • The Illegal: Both Erik and Darius; since both were wanted criminals, attempting to enter the United States legally would have resulted in deportation to their home countries. This results in Armand Dufour, the notary Madame Giry sends to deliver the letter to Erik, almost failing to do so -- she assumed that Erik entered the country legally and left a paper trail for Dufour to follow...
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Taffy Jones, "the official fun master [barker] of Steeplechase Park", recounts in his journal that he tried to pursue Darius when he saw him eavesdropping on Erik and Christine's reunion, but he had to wear his elaborate suit to greet Christine's party properly and "In my great clumsy extralong fun master's boots, running was out of the question."
  • Info Dump: In the final chapter, the lecture given by Cholly (now Professor Charles) Bloom forty-plus years later includes a summary of most of the plot as seen from his viewpoint -- providing little new information -- before revealing what happened to him and the other major characters not long afterward.
  • Inherent in the System: God's explanation to Father Joe as to why He allows atrocities to happen -- He gave humanity free will, and many humans choose to be evil instead of good. "I never gave Man a guarantee of perfection, only the chance of it. That was the whole point of it all."
  • In the Back: This is intended as Pierre de Chagny's fate, but instead Darius's bullet accidentally hits Christine in the back when she embraces her son.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Cholly Bloom.
  • Irish Priest: Joseph Kilfoyle, aka "Father Joe", Pierre's tutor.
  • It Seemed Trivial: A lot of grief would be spared if Taffy Jones shared his journal with others, and in the same way Cholly's greatest failure comes about due to his not realizing what is really going on between Christine, Erik, and so on. That said, he keeps and remembers two seemingly trivial items that figure into the climax: a celluloid cuff with three words in Latin that Darius shouts as he flees Steeplechase Park, and Erik's note to Christine arranging a meeting in Battery Park.
  • Loony Fan: Supposedly responsible for Christine's death; in truth, Darius was just loony.
  • Love Redeems: Specifically, the love between a father and son.
  • Monster Clown: During his con artist years on Coney Island, Erik disguises himself as a clown (using a mask rather than makeup for his face) to go among others in daylight.
  • Moral Dilemma: The heroine's climactic problem in The Angel of Shiloh -- should she tell the Southern army officers that her now-disfigured fiance is the wanted leader of "Regan's Raiders" ("who have carried out devastating ambushes behind the lines") and doom him to execution, or keep quiet and allow him to be returned to the North with his fellow casualties? She chooses to do the latter with the rationalization that he is no longer a threat to them. Cholly Bloom makes a similar decision at the end, choosing not to report what he knows about Christine's death for Erik's sake.
  • My Greatest Failure: For reporter Cholly Bloom, it's not figuring out what's going on in time to prevent the confrontation that leaves Christine dead; years later, he tells his journalism students that a key to being a great journalist is to understand what they are witnessing and reporting upon, and that this experience taught him the importance of doing so.
  • Non-POV Protagonist: Christine de Chagny.
  • Obviously Evil: Darius. Everyone save for Erik is instantly uncomfortable with him when they meet him -- especially Father Joe. He has Black Eyes of Evil to go with his black hair, pale-to-the-point-of-white skin, and black clothing, and is proud of his unfettered ways in the pursuit of money. Erik is the only person who really knows him in America and is easily swayed by him into becoming similarly ruthless. But even he sees nothing to like about Darius; the relationship between the two men is built only on their mutual dependence upon each other -- Erik needs Darius to carry out his moneymaking schemes, and Darius needs Erik to come up with the schemes in the first place.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: "Masquerade".
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Cholly (Charles) Bloom, though years later he goes by his real name as a professor. It's never said whether Taffy Jones is a case of this or not.
  • The Power of Love: Father Joe's conversation with God reveals that Erik can be redeemed by "another and a greater love" than Christine. That other turns out to be Pierre, his son.
  • Pretty in Mink: Christine arrives in America at the end of November, so she wears a mink-trimmed coat and hat at her welcoming ceremony.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: In the climax, Erik shooting Darius results in one of these.
  • Produce Pelting: Erik had to suffer being pelted with rotten fruit and worse in the freakshow. As far as Madame Giry knows, the former was the only food he got each day.
  • Proper Lady: What Christine de Chagny, once The Ingenue, now is (and everyone loves her for it).
  • Rags to Riches: Erik and Darius.
  • The Reveal: What does Madame Giry's letter reveal? That Raoul could never have children due to an old injury...meaning that the Phantom is Pierre's father.
  • Revenge: N.Y.C.'s upper crust refused Erik a private box at the Metropolitan Opera when he would not appear for an interview -- so he secretly funds the construction and operation of the Manhattan Opera House to give it the wherewithal to outdo the Met and its patrons. (What Erik doesn't know is that Darius was the one who made sure he couldn't get a box, because he wants him to focus on making money.)
  • Rewrite: Besides tossing out Leroux's novel in favor of Lloyd Webber's adaptation of it as the basis for the plot, the two murders the Phantom committed in the musical are revealed by Madame Giry to actually have been a suicide and an accident. It also says that it took several hours for Raoul to reach Christine in the Phantom's lair. Finally, the musical is set in 1881-82, but this novel changes that to 1892-93.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Why did Erik and Christine have sex? It's never fully explained.
  • The Rival
    • Erik refers to the Manhattan Opera House as "the rival that will set the snobby Metropolitan by the ears."
    • Christine de Chagny is this to Real Life Australian opera performer Dame Nellie Melba, according to the in-story newspaper articles/columns. Even Erik initially plans to launch the Manhattan Opera House with a production featuring Nellie -- but then he gets that letter...
  • Satan: Darius apparently doesn't realize it (much less Erik) but the god Mammon, whom he talks to in hashish-induced trances, is actually this.
  • Scrapbook Story: Of the 16 chapters, four are newspaper columns, one is from a diary, and one is from a journal.
  • Show Within a Show: The Angel of Shiloh.
  • Southern Belle: Christine's character in The Angel of Shiloh.
  • Spooky Painting: Erik secretly observes visitors to the E.M. Corporation's office from behind a reproduction of the painting The Laughing Cavalier. Going beyond the Portrait Painting Peephole approach, Cholly Bloom actually sees Erik's masked face in the place of the portrait's via a reflection and is startled -- but when he turns around to point it out, it's back to normal.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The lovers in The Angel of Shiloh -- she's from the South, he's from the North...
  • The Starscream: Darius. He is in line to inherit all Erik has and is only kept from speeding up the process by Mammon's orders, which do stipulate that if anything threatens this inheritance, Darius must eliminate it at once.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Madame Giry dies of a terminal illness in the opening chapter, but it has been almost 13 years since the events of Phantom (she's 58 when she succumbs), and she sets up the rest of the story with her letter before doing so.
  • Switching POV: Different characters narrate each chapter; some of them do the honors for more than one, but never in a row.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Darius was born in Malta but fled when he murdered his tutor, as (according to Erik) he was "driven to rage by the endless penances inflicted on him by priests". By the time he makes it to America at the age of 17, he is a devout worshipper of Mammon.
  • Title Drop: Twice -- by Cholly in Chapters Four and Sixteen and by Gaylord Spriggs in Chapter Six.
  • Tragic Dream: Erik long ago accepted that his dream of Christine reciprocating his obsessive love for her was this and put it behind him, but what he learns from Madame Giry's letter makes him decide to pursue it again -- though this time he is better equipped to handle rejection, so long as Christine leaves him their son.
  • The Unfettered: Darius, in his pursuit of wealth, is this.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: Erik hasn't tried to find another woman to love and be loved by since losing Christine to Raoul, devoting himself to making money instead.
  • Vice City: Coney Island, where Erik and Darius make their initial fortune through a variety of cons. It's relatively safe for visitors to the funfairs and amusement parks (including family groups), but they can still be scammed out of their money.
  • Villain Protagonist: Erik.
  • Where Are They Now? Epilogue: The surviving major characters' fates are briefly described (in the third person) to close out the book.
  • White Mask of Doom: Erik still has his.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Worshipping Mammon requires a willingness to do this; as Erik explains, "There is no widow, no child, no pauper wretch who cannot be crushed a little more for a few extra granules of the precious metal that so pleases the Master."
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