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Friday, May 8, 2009

Madrigal by Jennifer Linforth

Madrigal by Jennifer Linforth
Publisher: Highland Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Years earlier Erik faked his death and vowed the Phantom would never again haunt the Opera Garnier. But strange packages left by Anna, an unwanted Samaritan turned unlikely friend, cause him to desire the unattainable—love.

Battling the nobleman determined to lock him away, Erik must control his demons and tame a heart unexpectedly beating for two opposite women: Christine, who he longs to love, and Anna the woman who saw beyond his bitter soul to the man beneath the mask.

In the midst of a brutal manhunt, can he be loved for himself or is he condemned to be The Phantom of the Opera? Murderer, Maestro, Magician, Mastermind.

An opening letter of explanation and then a heartfelt prologue weigh the opening of Madrigal as surely as does anchoring the work, so securely, to Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera. Jennifer Linforth sets a demanding course, to follow in the wake of such a tale and such an author.

And for this daring, in her Madrigal Linforth deserves most heartfelt congratulations.

She does, indeed, chart an unpredictable course. Erik, imagined dead, returns, lurking as before, in his dark sanctuary, torn between love and hate. Again the voice of an angel and the soul of a madman rage. It’s sounds wonderful- dramatic – but Erik is a tortured soul. He is both afraid and fearful…compassionate and dangerous. The contrasts weave about his character from beginning to end.

All the other characters must be secondary to Erik’s tortured soul… but they are, nonetheless, well-rounded, and well-presented. Anna; does she still dream of him? Or, is devotion a duty…and Christine – can she be a new love? Does Erik truly even desire love? As a reader, you will find yourself hoping for more for Erik than he appears to want (or hope for) himself. You will feel frustration at the motivations and manipulation by some – Raoul in particular. There are harsh times and vicious actions recounted.

But the Phantom overshadows the story, overshadows destiny, overshadows every happening. As you read, his every emotion becomes important in this moment, and the questions of what will happen become far secondary. Is the Phantom doomed to haunt until his true dying day? Will he find love – understanding – anything close to the ‘normal life” he dreams of? Eventually – we’d give him any escape we could. Linforth’s characters will wring incredible sympathy from any reader.

Description intrigues nearly as much as action. Linforth not only exhibits a passion for research, but she brings places to life. Just a glimpse at the inner workings of the Opera house bring it all to focus, without slowing the story.

The cellars of the Garnier were tremendous as the opera itself. Totaling five, they supported the layout of the stage with a network of traps, hatches,
winches, counterweights and revolving doors. Anna often found respite among the wheels and pulleys of the sub-stage level. She enjoyed wandering among the giant machinery…

There is a caution here, however, and the reason I give this work 4 books, not more: It is far from the typical romance. The ending is not entirely what we might wish. Fans of ‘romance’ might find this slow going. The overarching literary phrases – not lofty perhaps, but indeed, full of layers and shades of the half-suspected… make this a demanding read. It is however, a rewarding read. If you long for an evocative heart wrenching tale and are prepared to pour a little of yourself into it, Madrigal is for you.

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