The Monsters of Music Review - Modern Retelling of Phantom of the Opera
by Rebecca F. Kenney
Published in 2019
Rebecca F. Kenney recently reached out to me in anticipation of her book release at the end of October 2019 in order to receive a review on her novel The Monsters of Music. In her description, she summarized her new novel as a modern retelling of The Phantom of the Opera and I was sold! This time, set in a modern time and instead of an opera, all singers are competing in a singing competition among teens. As if that isn’t enough to want to draw you in, she also added a magical component behind our new female “Phantom”. This is going to be a must read among the young adult genre!
The Monsters of Music begins with Mel overlooking the auditions for the latest singing competition in search for her protege. As a Lianhan Sidhe, it is a tradition for them to bond with a talented human as they use their magic to help them reach stardom and enhance their musical abilities. Horribly scarred, Mel prefers to search from the shadows while also texting one of the judges Eddie in order to follow her orders regarding the show. Mel is entranced when listening to contestant Kiyo and decides that his talent is worthy and decides to target him as her protege. She sabotages his vocal coach to get Kiyo assigned to her where she meets with Kiyo in a room with a magic mirror that transforms Mel into a beauty named “Erin”, which Mel uses as a mask to keep her identity hidden. Mel and Kiyo are immediately attracted to each other, as they work together to improve Kiyo’s singing ability to move forward in the competition.
Kiyo is almost eliminated in the first round after being too nervous and making mistakes in his performance, but after kissing “Erin” aka Mel, her magic is poured into him to deliver a killer second round. Madame Boucher works in the background and accuses Mel of being a Lianhan Sidhe, which she only recognizes because long ago she had met a Lianhan Sidhe that became her muse before she faded out. Kiyo contacts his family about his love for his vocal coach as they begin to get suspicious that his vocal coach is not what she seems. As Mel grows in confidence, she begins questioning why she can’t perform as it is forbidden for Lianhan Sidhe to perform for humans with them only able to give away some magic to enhance the performance of others.
Kiyo and Mel decide to perform together during one of his rounds when the performance becomes so powerful that some of Mel’s magic seeps into the crowd causing strange lights, mist, and even strange vines and animals. Kiyo realizes that Mel is Erin and that she has been seeping magic into him without permission as he fears that this is dangerous. He breaks the bond by kissing another contestant, Harley, while Mel runs away. While away, Mel realizes that she still has feelings for Kiyo and wants to see him succeed and returns when they forgive each other and decide to continue their bond together as Kiyo gets a record deal.
Final Rating & Thoughts: 7/10
I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this novel! I love watching Phantom of the Opera at least once a year, primarily to freshen up on the songs so I can continue to sing them at my husband all hours of the day, so to read a modern retelling of the story I enjoy so much was really refreshing. With Mel as the Phantom and Kiyo playing our dear Christine, I felt that they really did have that romantic chemistry the same way they do in the film. I loved that the characters were made into two teens as it just amped up the drama between the characters and really reminded me of all the young adult romance novels I loved to read in high school. For those that have young adults or teenagers looking for an interesting read, I would highly recommend this one.
With that said, there were times The Monsters of Music got a little weird or ridiculous as only teen novels can. With the setting being a singing competition, these teens were just always running around with no adult supervision. No one is afraid of pregnancy these days? There just seemed to be this strange disconnect with the contestants and the adults in charge as the people running the show didn’t seem to notice anything strange about Kiyo being coached by someone no one had never even seen or completely secluded from the coaching area the rest of the contestants practiced in (like why is everyone in the basement and not questioning why Kiyo is on the fourth floor??). I also wished there were more rumors surrounding the “phantom” throughout the show, as the only person who was afraid was the judge Eddie. I think it would have added more mystery and intrigue if the whole group had heard of a phantom behind the scenes. I also found that there was a strange character arch for Harley. She was the character who was “rigged” to win the competition as her father tried to pull strings so she could win. She was a manipulative and often times mean character with a sudden twist at the end to make her sympathetic. It was hard to care at the end as there just wasn’t enough time spent with her in the beginning to build upon her character.
Even with the flaws, The Monsters of Music could easily become anyone’s guilty pleasure read. I couldn’t put it down and read within a couple days. The only thing missing from my reading experience was actually getting to hear the singing in the competition as the author chose some fun and contemporary songs like “Swing Swing” by American Rejects and “Payphone” by Maroon 5. I just pulled up the songs and listened as I continued reading to give me the full experience. So for those looking to purchase this book once it comes out, have your YouTube playlist ready to be fully immersed in this world created by Rebecca F. Kenney.