January 13, 2012

Review: The Red Diamond of Nadiridjna - Ann M. Kraft

I read this book with high expectations, and that is always a major mistake. It wasn‘t better than The Opera Ghost Lives, but it wasn‘t bad, at all. I chose to open with a strong sentence like this, because this review is hard for me. I loved the book and yet I can't quite point what made me get stuck on the review.
I feel the need to say that's been months since I read it and just couldn't review it because I couldn't wrap myself around my feelings towards it.
I liked the book by itself, but it just didn‘t feel like the same characters than the previous one or even the original ghost. Erik felt like another person and, sure, he is a new person now that (((SPOILER ALERT))) he‘s married to Amalie and they have a beautiful life and an amazing baby girl, but... Everything is just too perfect. Erik is way too nice and forgiving, the girl is too smart, Amalie is too controlled and understanding and it frustrates me.
Also, the amount of religious talk in it, made me skip paragraphs. As an agnostic, I tend to avoid religious books, specially Christians and even more specially preaching books. I love reading about religion, I love studying them, but I do not like to be preached to, I do not like people trying to convince me of things, even if they aren't religious on the usual sense of the word (they do not preach on a religion but on Christianity/being religious in general).
And seeing Erik yap and yap about how God saved him and how God was good and all that, well, it was a major issue. I liked the hurt and evil Erik, because he was broken and had to be loved. Now that he's just trying to save the world preaching the word of God, well, then, that's no fun. He feels too out of character to me.
I know it's real evil of me to think that way, but it's that same thing I said before - they are all perfect and loving and caring and not real people, they are just not real, not relatable. If they had weaknesses, that would make them much more perfect "character-wise".
At one point Erik says he doesn't miss his old life, how could he, and that he barely missed the music, but if he did, he had that at home too. Now wait, he is comparing the Opera House with his Church's music and his home's piano? No offense - just not the same.
Now, that did NOT ruin the book for me, though. I still loved it very very much.
We get to know more of Erik's life, we get to know more of the Daroga, Erik's friend. We see more of his family together.

This is a new Erik, a loving and caring father and husband. It's good to see him being loved and being someone he should be from the start. We also get to know some hidden secrets of Amelie's family and friends and that is pretty cool as well, knowing some of Amelie's father's deeds and also Amelie's father's friends.
The story shows some o Erik and the Daroga's ancient past (Persian past) coming back to haunt them, when some men come investigate the Daroga for the missing Red Diamond of Nadirijna. I won't tell much, but I really enjoyed the plot and I really liked the main story, the parts with Erik showing how much he'd grown as a human being and yet still retaining all the mistery of the Phantom. The only part that was slightly too stretched and a bit preachy was the other part of the plot, regarding family secrets.
Even if we have tense moments and some of the Old Phantom, this is the happy ending to the Phantom of the Opera, to Erik. I still want, desperately to read more about it, about him and his story. But I just wish they were a bit more real, a bit less perfect, a bit more relatable.

I'm ansiously waiting for Ann Kraft's next book, The Phantom's Legacy: Family Secrets, which is out due this Spring and will not follow the same story of the Phantom, but has sort of a connection :)

Also, the third book on The Opera Ghost Lives series is on the works and I'm eager to see Erik again.
You can buy The Red Diamond of Nadirijna (the book, not the diamond, clearly) here on Kindle version or Paperback.
You can also read the first chapter of The Phantom's Legacy here.