Synopsis: R.L. Simmons is an actor who made his career in the stereotypical horror role as the villain. Then he gets his break in a traditional role and is nominated for an award. One night he does an interview on The Richmond Show. Leaving the show he is struck by a drunk driver and horribly disfigured... in true Phantom fashion.
This begins a year of therapy and surgeries, and reclusive behavior. Through it all, his buddy and manager Derek sticks by him. Then Halloween comes. A time where he can cover his disfigured face with masks with none the wiser. During his ventures out he meets the lovely Julie Hawkes, a romance actress who is not even remotely concerned about his face. Unfortunately, there were more emotional scars than physical from the accident, and Relic's sanity unravels into a sordid and twisted mess of a world in which he cannot bear to lose the woman of his dreams.
This author is a new star worth watching. His character development, and the bonds he forms are charming and real. He brings pop culture references into the story to tie it to the real world and tickle our funny bones. I adore Derek and his commitment to Relic, his fear and frustrations at becoming the third wheel, and watching his best friend slowly change and spiral into insanity.
Unlike The Odic Touch, there were moments especially towards the end of this story that felt forced. Thought processes that felt stilted. Having never been crazy, maybe that is how crazy people think... I don't know. But it wasn't the smooth flow that is frequently found in this author's writing.
This was actually really hard for me, being a HUGE Phantom of the Opera fan. Clearly the author is a big fan as well. He was going for a modern, realistic phantom-esque story. (He even says so in his forward.) And so I guess, for me, this set me up to hate the book from the beginning. If you aren't a huge phantom fan, then maybe it won't bother you nearly as much. But through the whole thing I kept referencing my fond memories and attachments to the characters of the Phantom of the Opera. It didn't have the same depth, the same societal challenges, or even the same passionate romance. What would have been a good story, once compared to the love of my life, became bland and irritating as an attempt of comparison. Something I probably would never have come to had the author not put it right there in my face at the very beginning, before even reading the book.
That being said, if you are not a huge fan of The Phantom of the Opera, and you like a good psychological horror with a splash of romance, then this book is definitely for you! As I said, this author is one worth watching, and I am eagerly awaiting his next book! You can purchase a copy from the link above and on the right.