As an avid reader and musical theater fan, I was so excited when I learned about Laura DeLuca's Dark Musicals series. This YA series centers on the (initially-unlikely, but oh-so endearing) relationship between Rebecca Hope and "Lord" Justyn Patko, as they navigate trials together on-and-off-stage.
I initially reviewed these books for Goodreads, but I wanted to share portions of each review with you today!
Rebecca, with the singing voice of an angel, lands the role of Christine in her high school's production of The Phantom of the Opera. She falls into her own personal love triangle between Tom, the dashing athlete who plays Raoul, and Justyn, the mysterious Goth who plays the Phantom. I was never that lucky! However, the story that follows is not just a typical romance; there are darker things at work, too. As the actors rehearse for the show, tragedies happen onstage and off. Rebecca receives threatening notes and phone calls that tie in with the disasters that happen in The Phantom of the Opera story. As the story progresses these tragedies escalate.
The characters in Phantom are expertly-crafted. As I hungrily sped through the 262 pages, I really felt like I knew Rebecca, Tom, and Justyn (who prefers to be called Lord Justyn, which really tickled my funny bone...). I also felt just as confused as Becca as I tried to unravel the mystery of the culprit's identity. Who was the one causing all of the accidents? One chapter had me suspecting a certain character, while another chapter had me changing my mind completely. I was flip-flopping up until the end - and when the identity of the one responsible was revealed, I was taken by surprise! While Phantom may have been (pleasantly) predictable as far as the love story goes, DeLuca did a wonderful job of keeping me on my toes as far as the mystery aspect was concerned.
Aside from The Phantom of the Opera, my favorite musical is Sweeney Todd! As I discussed in my initial Phantom post, I was a huge musical nerd in high school (not like that's changed now). I like getting to relive a bit of the "theater days" in these pages.... although, of course, my theater days were much less dramatic!
Demon is much darker than Phantom, in my opinion. DeLuca is masterful when it comes to crafting the kind of suspenseful scenes that make your shoulders tense - the kind of scenes that make you scared to look behind you. I felt like I was journey right beside Rebecca as she walked alone across the deserted campus. Every hushed noise and twig snap had me on high alert. I think it's a job well done when an author can make a reader really feel that sort of fear.
But fear not: Demon isn't all scary! There's still a decent dose of humor, with some great one-liners and a cast of supporting characters that really made me smile. No one in these pages in one-dimensional; all of the characters have desires, and flaws, and intriguing personal characteristics.
The plots twists kept me guessing until the end. As I neared the end of my commute home from work, I rushed to read the last few pages. I wasn't disappointed.
At the heart of this series is the relationship between Rebecca and Justyn. It's no doubt that these two are soulmates, and reading about their musical duets together is enough to send a shiver down my spine.
But there's another kind of chilling, spine-shivering work afoot: once again, Rebecca and Justyn's show (this time Jekyll and Hyde) is threatened by some evil forces. Is it the work of the ghost that haunts the dinner theater? One of the shady cast members out for blood? I was left guessing throughout Hyde!
I love the parallels DeLuca draws between her characters and the characters in the musical. It's a terrifying, awe-inspiring treat to see Justyn begin to mirror the characters of Jekyll and Hyde, while Rebecca looks on as his frightened but loyal lover.
The couple, alongside their families and friends, face many trials throughout Hyde. It was exhilarating to follow them through the plot to its satisfying conclusion.
I want to thank Laura DeLuca for allowing me the opportunity to read each addition to the Dark Musicals series! I enjoyed every moment. Here's a bit about Laura. Be sure to stop by her Facebook page and tell her I sent ya!
(Note: Laura's newest ebook, Thunderstruck, was just released as part of the For the Love of the Gods series that my own ebook, Stealing Polina, is a part of!)
Laura “Luna” DeLuca lives at the beautiful Jersey shore with her husband and four children. She loves writing in the young adult genre because it keeps her young at heart. In addition to writing fiction, Laura is also the sole author of a popular review blog called New Age Mama. She is an active member of her local pagan community, and has been studying Wicca for close to eight years. Her current works include Destiny, Destiny Unveiled, Phantom, Morrigan, Player, Demon, and Hyde.
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