REVIEW: Phantom by Lindsay RandallFriday, August 8, 2008 13:00
There’s nothing more frustrating for me as a reader than a premise that shows so much potential but ends up failing completely when it’s executed. That’s pretty much exactly what happened with Phantom, which doubly sucks because I know several TGTBTU readers were excited about this book. Read on to learn what didn’t work for me, although if you are the author, you might want to have a shot of something handy.
The premise starts out so very cool. Dax is a phantom, sharing his body with an evil creature that wants to smuggle souls. He’s literally cursed, and the only bright spot in his life is Robyn, a woman betrothed to him since birth. The conflict could have been exciting–will Dax manage not to steal her soul? How will he conquer the phantom lurking inside him? But it’s not, largely because the characters didn’t work for me, and I never really saw much growth in either of them.
Dax, for example, meets Robyn when he’s twelve and she’s seven. He becomes infatuated with her after a five minute conversation, and he thinks to himself that she smells like hope. I kept wondering what exactly hope smelled like, and then I kept picturing Robyn as played by some seven-year-olds I knew and found Dax’s infatuation creepy and misplaced. After five minutes, I wasn’t convinced she became the sole reason for him not succumbing to the darkness. Once Dax and Robyn hook up later, he spends so much time pushing her away and then finding he can’t resist her that I wanted to shout at him to make up his damn mind already.
As for Robyn, well, I didn’t share Dax’s infatuation with her. Honestly, there’s not enough to her except that she’s that lovely combination of TSTL and Mary Sue. She has special gifts, gifts that haven’t developed but which apparently help draw her to the phantom inside Dax. And she is forever tearing off after Dax even when he has good reasons for not wanting her to endanger herself. I also thought after some of the stuff she went through that she was way too quick to trust him under the circumstances. She’s also one of those characters that has stuff happening to her rather than making things happen.
Basically, I felt like both Dax and Robyn never transcended past being “characters in a romance novel”. They don’t react like normal people, they don’t talk like normal people, and the novel itself follows familiar plot patterns. The villains are predictably one-note and cartoonish and not nearly as menacing as they’re supposed to be, and when the major villain is dispatched, it’s rather anticlimactic.
I really wish I could have liked this book, and I think it will appeal to many people. But I actively disliked the characters so much that I couldn’t get invested in anything else that was going on. My advice? Try almost any other historical gothic paranormal. This isn’t even worth seeking out used.
Every night at midnight Dax could start to feel the change. The curse that made him less human as the Phantom inside struggled to take over. Then he would hear the ghost riders—their pounding hoofbeats drawing ever nearer, reminding him that he was never safe. Nor were the ones he loved.
As a girl, Robyn had pledged herself to him. But that was a lifetime ago. Now she was a woman. Beautiful. Pure. Every time she was near—her soft skin, her delicate scent—the Phantom wanted to claim her, to bring her body to the greatest heights of pleasure. Then steal her soul. Dax couldn’t allow that to happen. He was supposed to be protecting her. But deep down, he knew her love could save him. If the Phantom didn’t get her first.
Read an excerpt here