Isda does not exist. At least not beyond the opulent walls of the opera house.Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high—and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.
But Isda breaks Cyril’s cardinal rule when she meets Emeric Rodin, a charming boy who throws her quiet, solitary life out of balance. His voice is unlike any she’s ever heard, but the real shock comes when she finds in his memories hints of a way to finally break free of her gilded prison.
Haunted by this possibility, Isda spends more and more time with Emeric, searching for answers in his music and his past. But the price of freedom is steeper than Isda could ever know. For even as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place.
I read this series for my own personal pleasure and was not required to write a review. Therefore, all comments and opinions are entirely my own.
I read Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux last summer and was surprised by how much I loved it. Of course, it was well written (it’s a classic for a reason!), but I found the themes especially captivating and fascinating. When my cousin highly recommended this Phantom retelling, I had a feeling I was going to love it. I just didn’t know how much.
Sing Me Forgotten is the kind of book you binge. I don’t know that there is any other way to read it, and I say that as a very slow reader myself! I loved the world Olson created—mirroring France while still having a unique, magical twist to it. She created her own society rules and hierarchy which revolved around the people society despised—people like Isda—who didn’t fit into a box. People who had power. This Phantom retelling is a gender swap—Isda mirrors the Phantom. However, Olson did a brilliant job pouring aspects of both the Phantom and Christine into Isda’s character. This was demonstrated in Isda’s selfish motives and desire for acceptance balanced with her desires to be loved by a father and her naïve perspective on reality. Olson did the same thing with Emeric, having him mirror both Christine and Raoul. His personality was playful, light and innocent while giving Isda the solace and acceptance she so longed for, much the way Raoul did for Christine in Phantom of the Opera.
Sing Me Forgotten was the perfect mix of retelling Phantom of the Opera and its major character arcs while still being a completely new and original story. That’s a hard balance to achieve! There was one plot twist I predicted toward the end that was still completely satisfying and a few I wasn’t expecting that caught me off guard, but I still loved! The last 100 pages are rife with tension and conflict and emotions and so much pain. I think Olson did an amazing job navigating the toxicity of Isda’s behavior with Emeric while still helping us have sympathy for her as a character. Isda’s inner turmoil was so fascinating and intense while still being completely understandable and, in some aspects, relatable.
The climax was super intense and I definitely felt conflicted as it was happening. It’s hard to share my full feelings without spoilers, but suffice to say, while Isda is certainly misunderstood, she still makes some very poor decisions—and receives the consequences. I think that was actually my favorite part of the book. Olson didn’t change the major theme of the original she was retelling—toxic love, while full of emotion and affection, is still just that—toxic. And when taken too far, there is no going back. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. I really appreciated that Olson didn’t sugarcoat or even change this theme in her own version of Phantom. If she had, I think I would have lost some respect for her storytelling. But as it stands, I cannot wait to read more of her work because of the delicate way she handled this story!
I absolutely loved Isda and Emeric’s relationship. The ups and downs of their friendship and the arguments and discussions they had as they grew closer felt very realistic. And I was able to swoon over them in some moments and cringe when Isda took advantage of him. It was a strange back and forth, but it still somehow made sense.
Isda’s character arc is by far the best part of the story and the book is worth rereading for that experience alone. It’s a heart wrenching arc to watch unfold, but so beautifully written.
I give Sing Me Forgotten 5 out of 5 stars. This story is absolute perfection and I would recommend 10x over to those who loved Phantom of the Opera. However, there are a few violent exchanges that could be considered gory or explicit, so I extend caution there and recommend this book to ages 16+.