Reviews for The Writing on the Wall
Igenlode Wordsmith chapter 12 . 8/7
Hmmm... re the author's note: the story did actually come across a bit as if it was being yanked back into a previously set course in the middle of this chapter after developing Claudin-ramifications that hadn't existed back when this was originally planned - a sort of JK Rowling sensation :-(

"her wide, blue eyes" - punctuation nit-pick: no comma wanted. (Rule of thumb - if you can write "blue, wide eyes" then it's a list and you need a comma, and if the adjectives can only go in a set order then they're cumulative adjectives and you don't.)

I like the idea that it's up to Christine to lure Erik after her into her dressing-room to keep him from pursuing "that poor professor" ;-D
And it's an interesting speculation that perhaps the view that Erik knows best is the back of her head, after all. (Along with the detail that when he comes through the mirror, she can then prosaically see the reflection of his back!)

"Old and unstable and the bust was bound to take a tumble sooner or later" - an echo of the lie he tells the daroga about the fall of the chandelier in Leroux, although of course there's no way for Christine to know that... which means we know he is lying and she can't be sure.

"men like the Professor Claudin" - *the* Professor? (Is this intended as an echo of the French usage?)

An interesting suggestion that it's uncomfortable for Erik to laugh when masked, which in the case of a rigid moulded mask might well be the case...

"And for you at that matter" - this sounds a bit confused to me; either "at that" or "for that matter" (but probably the former, to avoid the repetition of "for") would seem a more natural expression here.

I don't follow Christine's logic that not receiving a letter from Raoul makes him likely to be a murderer (unless her meaning is that in the absence of the *reality* of Raoul, Erik is able to construct a twisted version in her mind?)

So *this* is the handkerchief Christine had borrowed, and the other one was left/planted at the scene of the crime by the murderer? Hmm, but then how could the latter possibly have counted on Christine's losing the one she had, and without that coincidence how could he have accounted for the presence of two handkerchiefs on the same night belonging to the same man?
I'm also a bit suspicious that neither Christine (when searching her dressing-room for the missing gloves) nor anybody else (including the police) had previously noticed this second handkerchief just lying there. Has it really been on the floor this whole time?

"Pulling her eyes from the stiff brown spots on the cloth, she looked down to meet Erik's" - I know Erik bends over to pick up the handkerchief, but surely he stands up again to give it to her and grab her wrist? It's hard to picture her looking *down* on his mask at this point...

"He could have brought a fresh one with him to the Opera that morning and happened to lose it as he fretted over her" - apparently Christine has forgotten that Raoul showed a clean handkerchief to Mifroid later that morning when challenged; he clearly *had* brought a fresh one, and this clearly wasn't it :-p

"How could Raoul's handkerchief have come to be in that room if Raoul himself never was?" - Christine, this doesn't make sense; if the handkerchief Raoul loaned her had remained in her possession the whole time, then Raoul didn't *have* a handkerchief to lose at that point (unless she is suggesting not only that he is the "someone else" who brought one to "the room of death" but also that he had brought a second, spare handkerchief with him for the specific purpose of losing it at the scene of the crime so that someone else could frame him with it). If it's a genuine discovery, then it ought to convince her of Raoul's innocence in the matter, not of his guilt; she really isn't thinking straight.
(I do wonder if Erik and his vocal skills have something to do with 'the cotton wool' episode, given that the interruption caused by Raoul's banging on the door seems to be what restores her to herself. Is he mesmerising her?)

"the cotton wool sensastion in her ears" - typo
"Raoul's hands move to Christine's arms" - typo

Christine seems to be a little confused right now about whether she is afraid *of* Raoul or *for* him... (Also, her certainty that Erik is unlikely to lay a finger on him seems unwarranted, given her earlier concerns for Claudin!)

"If somehow your memories are as blackened of that night as mineAnd why shouldn't they be?" - because the others didn't suffer a violent blow to the head ;-p
And anyway, why would they not have said so already, either of them? Because they secretly fear that they *might* be the killer and dare not admit that they don't know for fear of being suspected? It does sound the most amazing coincidence; presumably her idea is that the murderer had some kind of brainstorm that caused him both to kill and to suffer amnesia...
(And just where *did* Erik go that night, anyway? Raoul has an alibi for most of it, backed up by multiple servants (and how could he have got home covered in blood without being noticed?), but nobody knows what scheme Erik was up to.)

The only form of proof of innocence from a corpse that immediately brings itself to mind is if Erik could demonstrate that the wounds were made by a left-handed man and that he is right-handed (or vice versa).
Phantomy-Cookies chapter 12 . 7/30
It hath been said many a time over, but I seriously want to eat your Christine. If I could only have one Christine for my whimsical perverse fantasies, great cracky crackers, she would be it! Even Susana Foster and Sierra Boggess can't compare to the glory that is your exquisite Mlle. Daae. I want to roll her in fudge and get her drink on champagne again. This is the third time I've read this chapter update! Ack!
Child of Dreams chapter 12 . 7/26
DNA?
Arazadia chapter 12 . 7/26
What a thrilling chapter! I have zero idea of where this is going and I'm loving it!
Igenlode Wordsmith chapter 11 . 7/17
I've just been reading "The Black Opera" by Mary Gentle (recommended, by the way), which reminded me that one of the things I really enjoy in POTO stories is when the author has gone to the trouble of actually coming up with an *original* opera for the characters to perform and has thought about how it is going to work, rather than just rehashing the movie staging of "Point of No Return" over and over again... And as in "The Black Opera", we actually get to see the compromises and backstage development that go into creating a new work here, which is always fascinating.

Of course Christine's three days' absence means that she has had even less time than anybody else to look at the score...

"Surely the director and stage manager did not intend for her to actually undress during Jeanette's waterfall scene" - well, from a staging point of view they're presumably not going to have an *actual* waterfall with flowing water either, or a pool she can submerge herself in. One wonders if d'Arcy had thought the practicalities of this through, or if he just thought it would be fun to write a scene with his heroine getting ogled without wondering how anyone was going to show it on stage ;-p

Typos:
making a bet at who will win Jeanette's love ("a bet on", presumably)
she donned Maruguerite's sleeveless shift

"She thought back to what Erik said about d'Arcy's composing on the afternoon before he died" - at this point I was actually starting to wonder whether Erik had lied about d'Arcy's lack of talent for reasons of his own...

"Erik willingly guiding her in mastering this music, spending hours pouring over note after note of d'Arcy's passion fantasy until she embodied it. Christine felt her face grow hot simply imagining singing any of these duets with Erik"- this is ironic, given that we know from canon that Erik is in fact currently engaged in writing just such a scenario himself for Christine to perform ;-P

N.B. typo: "pouring over" (poring)

"when she returned to his house for the night" - I'd got the impression that she'd successfully talked Erik into letting her go home?

"I like to learn it slowly at first" - the poor performance has more to do with the fact that she's a singer and not actually a pianist, I'd have thought :-P

"against the cool, glossy wood of the grand piano" - ah, that explains how she managed to move *around* it; I was picturing the usual practice-room upright piano against the wall, which had me a bit puzzled earlier!

"Every nuance of his demeanor was opposite of that aspect of Lord d'Arcy's which set her on edge" - "opposite of" sounds wrong to me (unless it's an American thing); shouldn't it be "opposite to" or "*the* opposite of"?

Hmmm... with all the staring - and it does sound as if Claudin is trying to say that he wrote the part of Solange with her in mind - it's starting to look as if we may have another Christine-obsessed composer on our hands. At any rate, the unseen Erik clearly thinks so :-p

But I like the way that you're saying that the music of the opera is actually good (i.e. Erik isn't the only decent modern composer in this fanfic universe!) and that Carlotta would be more capable in character than Christine of doing justice to the part of Jeanette (i.e. Carlotta isn't being depicted as a tone-deaf figure of fun in this fanfic universe!)
Although isn't Carmen normally a mezzo role, while Jeanette is presumably a soprano?

"The gas lights in the walls sconces" - typo (wall sconces?)

I'm a bit confused by the bust of Haydn "rocking on the marble"; I thought that maybe it had just lurched forward and was now back on its marble pedestal, but since it's now resting on the top of its head apparently 'the marble' refers to the floor. Which took me a while to work out, as it hadn't been quite my default mental image for a practice room!

I wonder what Erik makes of the music?
CCranberry chapter 11 . 7/13
I am really enjoying the attention to detail to the production so far. I also, like many, LOVE the subtle homages to different Phantoms from other versions of the story. I don't think I've seen a story on the site yet that played this kind of card.

My heart immediately is going out to Professor Claudin...even though he clearly is the murderer. (OR IS HE?)

Like Christine I roll my eyes at Erik's antics. Though they are very enjoyable to read.

I cannot wait to see how this continues!
friendorphantom chapter 11 . 7/12
Intriguing! I'm curious to see where you go with this second phantom figure.
Child of Dreams chapter 11 . 7/12
(laughs out loud)
Erik's getting jealous...
Arazadia chapter 11 . 7/11
I so enjoy your Christine! She feels like a real character in this story-and it's so easy to make her all maidenly horror and missishness. I like her modesty and kindness here, but also her true love and appreciation for the opera. Very intrigued by a new composer with designs on her voice!
phantomy-cookies chapter 11 . 7/11
MOO HA HA. I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE. Perhaps you should have called this story 'The Seduction of Christine:'

"She is the one doing the seducing, and none of these self-aggrandizing sops realize it."

*mic drop*

*wink wink*

*nudge nudge*

I feel like this chapter was written for me. Like, you sat down and said, "I'm gonna tickle Cookies filthy self tonight." It's got almost everything to make me flop around on the ground like a beached seal with tubs of fish being thrown at me.

1. Christine musing over her hypothetical nudity. (Hypothetical nudity still counts!)
2. The description of the opera sounds hilariously awesome. I want to see it performed, please and thank you.
3. Christine just continuing to be gloriously awesome— a delightful mix of pensive and haughty. I love how feminist she is in this story. It's so much more Lerouxish than people realize!
4. MONSIEUR CLAUDIN! 1943 Phantom of my heart! You've written him so well and the descriptions of him are perfect. (It was hard not imagining Christine as Susanna Foster. Hee hee hee.) *eats Susanna*
5. Erik dicking around with Christine and Claudin in the most "Opera Ghosty" way he possibly could. Also... the shout out to 1990's Charles Dance Phantom! This fic is the perfect hodgepodge of all my loves!
6. I wonder what irritates Erik more: Raoul trying to romance Christine or Claudin trying to coach her. All these idiots trying to woo our Mll.e Daaé when she just wants to sing and eat chicken wings. *sniffs*
7. Your prose is delicious and perfect as always.
8. Christine's porn arms as Siebel.
9. All of the shade being thrown at Carlotta.
10. The line about Christine's discomfort over the thought of singing smut songs with Erik literally made me laugh out loud.

Good crack, I adore this. And you. And this. Please include more random phantom movie references. They literally melt my butter. Oh, and please don't stop writing because you're honestly the best and I love you and everything hurts. *LOVES*
Igenlode Wordsmith chapter 10 . 6/30
I observe that it appears to be the 'lower classes' at the Opera who are glad to see Christine, and her actual colleagues who are regarding her with suspicion...

"He is with MM. le Directeurs" - plural: MM. *les* Directeurs

"He was effused to see her" - I'm not sure one can "be effused" in that sense :-(
It means "to flow out", figuratively or literally: "he greeted her effusively" is pretty normal, "he effused hospitality and enthusiasm" if you want to be literary and esoteric, but "the blood was effused in the ventricle" ;-p
Whatever else he's done, Remy hasn't become a puddle on the floor...

Adalene is taking an untoward interest in Christine's dress - noticing perhaps that she is still wearing the same costume as before she disappeared, and speculating as to whether she has been spending those nights in her own bed or not?

d'Arcy's "cast list" was presumably the list of planned notches on his bedpost :-(

"cut him off with nod" - "with a nod"?

"Intrigue sells tickets, but inquests interfere with business" - a nicely-turned aphorism!

It's not at all clear what sort of reaction they are hoping for when telling Christine that she is to play Jeanette; of course Christine has no idea of any significance attached to this demand, and so neither has the reader. "We expect you to conduct yourself in a professional manner" - we expect you not to allow your various lovers to murder each other out of jealousy on our premises?

Why does Mifroid point to the ceiling after talking about keeping his ear to the ground, and immediately before saying "the lower the scerets"? Pointing downwards would seem to make more sense in the context...

"the murder was committed by someone who was your friend. And your name was written by someone who was not" - so Person A dragged d'Arcy off a fainting Christine and stabbed him all over while he staggered across the room (possibly a friendly act, but not a very honourable one; when a woman is being assaulted, wouldn't it be more normal to grab the assailant at once with both hands, yank him off, and knock him to the ground, rather than going to get the carving knife from the buffet and then stabbing him in the back to forestall the consummation of the act?)
Person B than arrived to find the victim in a pool of as-yet-uncongealed blood and decided that Christine must have been the cause of some quarrel, and that her involvement in the death should be blazoned forth to the world to punish her.

And Person C (who may or may not have have been identical with either of the above two persons, but does not appear to have been Raoul) removed Christine's body from the scene of the crime for motives unknown, took her back to her dressing-room, leaving a bloody handprint on her neck, removed her long gloves, and apparently locked her in (since the door had to be forced open; why were they forcing their way into Christine's supposedly empty dressing-room? To look for clues? And doesn't someone in authority have a pass key?)
What Person C did *not* do was administer any kind of medical aid or even wash the blood from Christine's scalp wound off her face - not really the act of a 'friend'. Though her hands may possibly have been washed, depending on whether the blood soaking through the gloves would have left any stain or not...

One obvious question is whether Christine's body was still on the scene when Person B arrived, or indeed whether B witnessed the entire affair. If not, then it seems rather a stretch to assume that d'Arcy's gruesome murder was necessarily anything to do with Christine, who hadn't so much as spoken to him all evening.

But if B (possibly a woman) came into the room and found d'Arcy stretched out on one side and Christine slumped on the other, and proceeded to write her artistic accusation (can one deduce anything about the height of the artist by the location of the wording on the wall?), *then* what did B do that gave C a free hand to remove Christine? Went off to ensure that the alarm was raised, presumably... but then what happened when the body was discovered by all and sundry but Christine was no longer present? It would look very suspicious, and Mifroid hasn't asked any questions that would suggest anything of the sort.

No, I think that if B is *not* C, then B must have arrived after C had already 'rescued' Christine (to protect her reputation?) and have found d'Arcy alone in the room. Which again rather raises the question of how B could be certain that Christine was involved in the first place. (After all, if B didn't witness either the crime or Christine's presence, Christine might perfectly well have been able to prove the next morning that she had nothing to do with it! Which would have been rather awkward...)

The most likely scenario would seem to be that B is, in fact, the same person as C, and that dumping Christine in her dressing-room and writing accusations on the wall were both acts performed to make her appear to be culpable rather than being the victim of the evening.

On the other hand, neither Raoul nor Erik seems to fit the profile of A, the hypothetical hit-and-run avenger - the attack is too messy and incompetent for Erik, too gruesome for Raoul (who wouldn't have run away from the consequences if he thought he was justified in defending Christine). And if A did *not* write Christine's name on the wall, then where was he while B was doing it? If he thought he was protecting Christine, why did he run away and leave her lying on the floor in her own blood rather than rushing to fetch a doctor? Or if he was Person C, then why did he leave her lying in her dressing-room without medical help for hours?
And what is the significance of the missing gloves...?

I suppose the other possibility is that B witnessed the murder, wrote the accusation, then quietly disappeared without taking any steps to ensure that the crime was discovered immediately - thus allowing C to turn up/return and remove Christine. Certainly Mifroid doesn't seem to know for certain whether Christine was even present at the time of the murder.

Maybe she *wasn't*? (No, because she has the murdered man's blood all over her - too much to have come from her own injury.)

And what was Adalene's evidence? There seems to be a hint that it was something to do with Christine's clothes.

"Theories" indeed...

"I am the late Lord d'Arcy's silent partner" - the one who really wrote the music, then, according to Erik's unkind comments :-p

Now how does Claudin know of Christine? Is he really simply a fan who has heard all her performances? Has d'Arcy been talking about her to him?
"If I had known you were-" what? In the room? The woman d'Arcy had some scheme centred on? The 'Christine' whose name was written on the wall?

"Commissary Mifroid of the surete" - shouldn't the Sûrété at least be capitalised, even if not overwhelmingly accented? :-(

Christine may have torn up one set of letters, but apparently Erik had another set prepared or already sent; surely he can't have written these in the time it took Christine to reach the managers' office? (Particularly given that he seems to have escorted her up to 'the last steps', and would have had to return home before he could start writing again!)
On the other hand, if these letters were written on the assumption that Christine would be remaining below with him, they are going to confuse the managers mightily...
Phantomy Cookies chapter 1 . 6/28
I love this so effing much. So. Effing. Much.
Igenlode Wordsmith chapter 9 . 6/26
Hmm... if Erik had killed d'Arcy without remembering it, surely he wouldn't *need* to evade denying it? He wouldn't know himself (although he might have worked it out afterwards from telltale evidence, I suppose).

I do remember him setting off with a special satchel on that first night, and I don't think we're ever told anything about where he was actually going that kept him so busy; does he have a confederate, perhaps, who might have carried out the crime? (But then why would a confederate care enough to murder 'for Christine'?)

If Raoul had murdered d'Arcy and then blacked out, his account of finding that Christine had walked out on him and going home in a huff would be a conscious lie (presumably intended to cover up an awkward blank in his memory, in such a case - but if he *did* have a missing chunk of his memories corresponding exactly to the time of the crime, and lied about it, would he have been so adamant that he had "nothing to hide", and have jumped to the conclusion that Erik was responsible? Wouldn't he be uneasy and worried?)
Would he have been stupid enough to use *his own monogrammed handkerchief* to decorate the wall, and then leave it conveniently to place him at the scene of the crime?
And above all, would he have publicly associated Christine's name with a gruesome murder by cold-bloodedly daubing it on the plaster? It's not the act of a sane man or a gentleman; Raoul might act to rescue her, but not carry out all those baroque additions, however drunk he was. (And he wasn't behaving as if he were particularly drunk when last seen that night; Christine blacked out only after having a tumbler of neat spirit forced down her, after all...)

"pretending to be opposite herself on stage" - I found this a very confusing phrase (not least since 'to play opposite someone on stage' generally means to co-star with them!) I eventually worked out that it was intended to mean 'playing a character the opposite of her own', but I actually wondered first if "one of the most opposite roles" was a typo for 'apposite', since she is the quintessential 'soubrette', after all: young, pretty, light voice, not a big dramatic soprano...
Basically I'm not sure "opposite" is the right word in either of these two sentences :-(

"he meant for her to never her return" - typo

It's an interesting idea to have Christine using her experience of playing Siebel to attempt to put herself into the mind of a man...

"how could anyone who truly loved her have written those words unless they were mad" - exactly.

"keep your nose out Erik's business" - looks like a missing 'of'

I like the description of the pen blotting when Christine halts it in mid-travel - as it would!

"the u and r barely legible" - an interesting reminder that of course it was written *in French*... (I always had that trouble with that scene in "Elainie" which pivots around Christine writing HELP on Raoul's calling-card, this being of course an expression which notoriously doesn't exist as a single word in the French language!)

Convenient of Erik to carry dark-coloured handkerchiefs; one might almost think he was in the habit of wiping off blood and ink with them...
Evidently he has a photographic memory. Though one has to ask, with Christine, exactly *when* he had the opportunity to observe the scene of the crime - through one of his trap-doors, no doubt? He can scarcely have been wandering about openly amid the uproar in his mask.

"They were in in a stack" - typo

Erik *kept* Raoul's note - to gloat over, apparently? (Well, it's a plausible motive for an otherwise inexplicable action; one would normally have expected him to eradicate any trace of Raoul from his house as soon as possible.)

"He who killed him is not."
You know, that would be a possible motive for Erik to have rigged up all this elaborate scheme: in an attempt to frighten Christine into leaving the world above and seeking refuge with him on a permanent basis. So long as he can persuade her that there is a murderer on the loose up above, he can argue that she is safer with him :-p

On the other hand, if we take his assertion at face value, surely a man who claims to have killed to *avenge* Christine is not likely to intend to kill her himself later? (Unless he's Erik, who is psychologically entirely capable of doing both; which suggests that if Erik *isn't* the murderer, he is at the very least imagining how he would behave if he were...)

"she was loathe to admit it" - typo: "loathe"/verb, "loath"/adjective (I usually prefer the spelling "loth" to make the distinction easier!)

"where time lost all meaning" - particularly when he deliberately doesn't wind her watch... :-(
friendorphantom chapter 10 . 6/23
Loving the double update, and loving the nod to the Claude Raines version in this chapter!
lilly87 chapter 10 . 6/23
"Here Christine, we want to honor the man who tried to rape you, (and came close to it), by putting on his musical and we want YOU, his victim, to star in it! BE PROFESSIONAL AND JUST DO IT!"

Sigh...I have to remind myself this story isn't being written in modern times. I feel so outraged for Christine! I want her to be a strong, independent soprano who don't need no phantom( or man). :) nah..that would be no fun! I am hoping she can find a somewhat happy ending in all this...though I remember you are very famous for your dark twists; I am not even attempting to guess who dun it because knowing your history, you could spin a web that would lead to CHRISTINE being the murderer! (Though I am officially suspecting this professor. He seems very smitten by Christine. Guess she just has that something special! Haha poor thing.)

I am so thrilled you are writing again. I am secretly hoping you may be inspired to pick it back up as a fun hobby again; you are very talented. I wish I had your imagination! It is very difficult to get the characters as Leroux-accurate as you have, so I tip my hat to you. I would love to see this story spun in a modern time era...like my comment above. Though I am always more partial to modern-day phantom stories that stay Leroux-eque. I like my Christine's to have a backbone :) but even despite that I still love your version, and the book version.

A quote I can't quite remember the source of reads: "It isn't weak to be gentle and kind. In this wicked world; it is too easy to hate. It takes a great strength for a person to be genuinely kind." I feel like that wraps her up perfectly in your story. My heart breaks for her and I want her to be okay.

I also adore your Erik. I always have!

Thank you for the updates! It was a real treat to see two within the same week! :)
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